Local life insurance companies are beginning to feel the pressure of an escalation of Covid-19 related deaths which has increased death benefit claims.
The country recorded 650 Covid-19 related deaths in the past month including a staggering 281 Covid-19 deaths from 20 to 27 June. While the life insurers say that no death benefit claims have been declined for any reason, the long-term impact of the pandemic has not been ruled out in terms of benefits as well as pricing.
Two of Namibia’s biggest life insurance companies, Sanlam and Old Mutual, also moved quickly to reassure clients that they will continue to be covered without any specific vaccine exclusions.
“We have experienced an increase in death claims over and above the normal baseline, largely attributable to Covid-19 related claims since the beginning of the pandemic. However, the increase we are experiencing in 2021 is much more material than what we experienced in 2020,” explained Sanlam Namibia spokesperson, Hilaria Graig.
Responding to New Era questions, Graig revealed that the claims Sanlam has experienced in 2021 are much higher than anticipated and as such, it is normal to expect an impact and decrease in profits.
“However, at Sanlam we early on implemented an exceptional risk management process which allows us to be well reinsured and capitalised, to remain in a financially viable position and a position that allows us to continue to honour our commitments to
our clients,” Graig stated.
She added that the Covid-19 situation is still relatively new to the world but that Sanlam Namibia is doing its best to plan for it as far as possible. She continued that Sanlam continues to closely monitor the situation but emphasised that no changes have been made to existing policies without ruling out that the long-term impact of the pandemic may still rear its head in the future of the industry in terms of benefits as well as pricing.
Said Graig: “No changes in individual premiums have been effected in response to Covid-19. A growing concern from clients has been fear of exclusion as a result of the Covid vaccine, however, at Sanlam we know that it is exactly for times like these that our clients have insurance, and our goal is and always has been to serve our clients in their time of need. We reassure our clients that they will continue to enjoy cover without any specific vaccine exclusions. We will continue to provide our clients with the cover they need during these difficult times and
our requirements for claimable events, therefore, remain unchanged.” Meanwhile, Old Mutual Namibia also confirmed a considerable increase in the number of death benefit claims processed on a weekly basis. Company spokesperson, Ndangi Katoma noted that Old Mutual is well capitalised and that it anticipated the severe impact of Covid-19, which is precisely why it made provision for the increase in claims. Said Katoma: “Yes, the number of death claims since the outbreak of Covid-19 has significantly increased compared to pre-Covid-19.” He continued that Old Mutual will continue to pay all valid claims and thus, honours commitments to all its customers.
“Old Mutual has not adjusted policy premiums. Premiums are adjusted on an annual basis and a number of factors play a role in the adjustments. Last year, following the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, Old Mutual provided premium relief support to severely affected customers in the form
of additional and automatic premium holidays to customers with specific risk products that have premium holiday features,” Katoma stated. Katoma concluded that “Old Mutual has gone through good and rough seasons over the last 101 years and we have remained anchored as a financially strong, well capitalised and well governed business with capabilities that position us well to meet the changing needs of our customers.”