All life insurers have now released summaries of their claims statistics for 2022, with a cumulative payout of R43.2 billion across five of the largest: Old Mutual (R14.7 billion), Discovery Life (R9 billion), Liberty (R6.98 billion), Sanlam (6.38 billion rand) and Momentum Retail Life Insurance (6.18 billion rand).
The diminishing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic can be seen across the board, with Momentum reporting that while Covid accounted for 42% of all death claims in 2021, that number dropped to 12% last year. This ties in with Old Mutual, which was responsible for the largest claims payout in 2022 at R14.7 billion, but also recorded a 30.7% decrease in claims paid compared to 2021.
“A drop in gross payments of about R6.5 billion was expected as 2021 was an exceptional year for claims due to the boom caused by Covid-19 and we are now starting to see a return to normal,” says John Coetzee, Head of Retail Protection Product Marketing at Old Mutual. Old Mutual reported an average payout of R29.2m per working day in 2022, including death, disability, sickness and reduction claims.
Discovery Life executive vice president Gareth Friedlander said the decrease in Covid-19-related death claims has been offset by increasing morbidity trends, reflecting the changing nature of risks related to Covid-19 as it moves from a pandemic to an endemic condition. Discovery Life data supports the evidence that the long-term impact of the disease and pandemic is expected to continue, with research indicating that the global death rate remains 5% higher than pre-pandemic levels.
During 2022, Discovery Life has paid out a total of R626 million for single life claims related to Covid-19. “The impact of the pandemic on clients has changed,” Friedlander says. “We are now processing more claims for living benefits than for life cover. Long-Covid is not fully understood, but the risk is expected to persist for the foreseeable future and provides another reason for South Africans to ensure they have adequate coverage for long-term risks.”
Sanlam reports that Covid-19 still accounts for most sick income claims (41%) in 2022.
While the Covid-19 virus remainedThe main reason for these claims was that the payment of R31 million to people booked from work was 46% less than in 2021.
Only confirmed Covid-19 claims accounted for R133.7m of Sanlam’s 2022 total payout.
Our findings are consistent with the global trend of Covid-19 cases becoming less frequent and severe as vaccination efforts and past infections lead to some “herd immunity” around the world. Our data reveal interesting epidemiological patterns; Between March 2020 and March 2022, most death claims due to Covid-19 came from men, but sick and disability income claims for clients booked from work for Covid-19, were fairly similar for men and women,” says Marks.
The impact of reduced health checks
“Another side effect of the pandemic is the marked decline in health screening,” Friedlander says. Distinctive parallels can be drawn between the health screening deficits observed in Discovery and the more severe diagnoses in severe disease claims.
“Cancer has always been at the top of the list of causes of severe disease claims. Now, as screening has decreased during the pandemic, we are seeing the impact of late-stage diagnosis,” says Dr. Maretha van der Walt, chief medical officer of Discovery Life.
She says this serves as a stark reminder of the importance of annual routine screenings for early detection of health conditions so patients can reduce their risks and improve health outcomes.
“Up to 47% of our cancer claims due to severe disease are for those where health screening screenings are already an established population-wide practice. Regular screenings are essential for improving survival rates from breast, prostate, cervical and colon cancers, where detection is Early intervention is possible and can greatly improve clients’ health outcomes.
“For example, breast cancer diagnosed in its early stages has a survival rate of 95%, and similarly, prostate cancer in its early stages has a survival rate of 99%. In the later stages, both conditions have a survival rate of 30% and 31%,” says van der Walt. respectively”. DM