South Africa's Top Life Insurers Report Spike in Death Claims During Covid-19 Pandemic

analysis

Claims from March 2020 to January this year were well above what was expected by the industry.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

South Africa's largest life insurers have reported increases of 50% to 60% in death claims against fully underwritten individual life policies between March last year, when the first Covid-19 case was recorded in South Africa, and the end of January 2021.

Although life insurers anticipated that death claims would increase in line with the national death rate during the second wave, insured lives lost exceeded the expected death rate by four times at the peak of the second wave in January 2021.

In comparison, the country as a whole saw an increase in reported deaths of 2.8 times the expected death rate.

"This was a surprising finding given that policyholders with fully underwritten life policies tend to have fewer comorbidities and usually have access to better healthcare," says Anja Kuys, chair of the Actuarial Society of South Africa's Continuous Statistical Investigation (CSI) committee.

The information came via a CSI-designed dashboard that tracks excess death claims against policies. The data is submitted by four of SA's biggest life insurers, representing...

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