Namibia’s entire life insurance industry has seen an escalation in Covid-related death claims, and Hollard Namibia is no exception. The local insurer this week said while an increase in pandemic-related deaths has not impacted its life insurance premiums, the full effect of the pandemic cannot be ignored indefinitely.
The local insurer added that as more Namibians start to take the vaccine, the country is likely to see a drop in Covid-related deaths, which could mean that there would be no need for premium adjustments.
Hollard Namibia spokesperson Odette van Wyk explained that premium adjustments require a long-term view and in-depth data analysis to get a proper understanding of the risk. Insurers have to take into account factors such as how long the risk is assumed to continue, and the assumed severity of the risk in future.
“There is a massive paradox in risk that we as Namibia are facing as opposed to countries like the UK, America , Canada, Israel, etc, who have high vaccination rates. It is becoming evident that these countries will be returning to ‘normal’ sooner than others, not only their economies and way of life, but also in terms of fatality rates,” Van Wyk stated in response to New Era’s questions.
She cited examples of Israel, where 66% of the population has been vaccinated, and the United Kingdom, where 65% have received the jab. Van Wyk emphasised that Israel and the UK jointly had a total number of 375 fatalities from 1 June 2021 up to 30 June 2021, with a combined population of 77 million people.
Namibia, on the other hand, with a population of 2.5 million and a vaccination rate of 4.6%, has lost 691 people over the same period of time. That is 84% more fatalities with a population of 31 times less,” said a concerned Van Wyk.
“We have seen an increase in Covid-related death claims, but this is to be expected as the number of Namibian fatalities has increased rapidly since 1 January 2021 from 208 to 1500, and shall continue to escalate as long as the third wave continues”.
According to Van Wyk, Hollard Namibia does not expect any changes to its policy benefits, and all Hollard clients are anticipated to continue enjoying full cover benefits, even in the event of a Covid claim. Thus far, Hollard Life does not have any Covid or vaccination policy exclusions.
Van Wyk stated that the escalation in Covid-related deaths is evident from the increase in the number of claims. She added that although the older age groups are affected significantly more, the younger age groups are not immune to Covid fatalities or the complications of the virus.
“We as Hollard are pro-vaccine. We urge the public to do adequate research if they have questions or concerns about the vaccine.
We see too many clients, friends and family members who put their health at the mercy of unqualified non-scientific information and fake news”, Van Wyk cautioned.
“It is our privilege to support and assist our clients in these trying times, and to contribute to society by playing our small part wherever possible. Apart from Hollard Life having a strong balance-sheet, the company also holds sufficient reserves. These reserves are determined and monitored by valuators (actuaries) to ensure that life insurers have the ability to pay claims in any eventuality. Stress testing is performed annually by our actuaries to measure claim-paying ability by applying a ‘1 in 20 years adverse event’ scenario to ensure that Hollard can withstand any such an occurrence”.
The company also takes out adequate reinsurance to mitigate certain risks which may impede their ability to honour promises to clients.
“In view of Hollard’s strong balance-sheet and large and diversified portfolio, the current Covid claims situation, even though not ideal, will not have any material impact on Hollard” Van Wyk emphasised.
She added that over and above the settlement of Covid claims, Hollard also contributed in excess of N$100 million - and shall continue to contribute - in relief packages to clients and the tourism sector, as well as in support of the vaccination and oxygen supply programmes.
“We understand that paying out valid claims is not enough, and that we need to go above and beyond the call of duty to help safeguard Namibia and its people,”she continued.
“In order to get our wild and vastly beautiful Namibia and its people back to the way we knew it, to celebrate our freedom in masses and to showcase our diversified culture and Namibian beauty to the world, we need to beat this pandemic. For a country with a small population, it can easily be achieved if we are able to reach herd immunity, so get vaccinated,”Van Wyk urged.