Life insurer FMI has officially rebranded itself to Bidvest Life as it sought to unlock growth opportunities, raise its profile in the local market and better connect the company with its customers, Independent Financial Advisers (IFAs), and other stakeholders.
The insurer’s chief executive Lulu Rasebotsa said that the rebrand was a key step in the company’s move away from being ‘the best-kept secret’ in the local market. “In partnership with Independent Financial Advisers, we’ve been helping South Africans achieve financial peace of mind for 27 years by insuring their most important asset: their monthly income. As Bidvest Life, with the backing of our shareholder, we are building a brand in the market that makes our life insurance solutions accessible to all South Africans; and we will continue to provide cover that is easy to understand and talks to the specific needs of our customers,” Rasebotsa said.
FMI, which was one of the first insurers in South Africa to specialise in income protection for business owners and the self-employed market in 1995, has been a division of Bidvest since 2016.
Bidvest Financial Services chief executive Hannah Sadiki said the new brand would form part of a broader Bidvest offering that would offer consumers a wide range of financial services under one umbrella from banking, short-term insurance, life insurance and more. “Bidvest is renowned for its model of acquiring businesses that will benefit from the synergies and strength of the Group to enable growth and ultimately deliver a greater return on investment. By investing in local businesses, such as Bidvest Life, we aim to turn ordinary companies into extraordinary performers, delivering strong and consistent shareholder returns in the process,” Sadiki said.
Speaking at the official rebranding on, Rasebotsa said Bidvest Life aimed to get South Africans to re-imagine life insurance with their Income First Approach. “We’ve always believed that South Africans should always insure their income before anything else. We aim to change the way life insurance is sold in South Africa, from traditional life cover which pays out as a lump sum to insurance that pays out monthly. This solves for what really matters: protecting yourself, your business and your family against unexpected expenses incurred due to illness, injury, disability or death,” she said.
The insurer said that the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of income protection, especially for business owners and the self-employed. FMI said it paid 92 percent of all claims in 2020. According to FMI’s 2020 Claims Report, 87 percent of all claims paid in 2020 were for Income Protection benefits. The firm said that the pandemic continued to show that income protection was still the most effective insurance against the risk of injury, illness or death.
In October last year, the company said that the Covid-19 pandemic had a major impact on the life insurance industry, with significant increases in claims for income protection, retrenchment, death and funeral claims. It said that the pandemic continued to show that Income Protection remained the most effective insurance against the risk of injury or illness. Minor infection claims due to Covid-19 accounted for almost a third of the company's income protection payouts in 2020. It said that it believed this allowed their policyholders to continue providing for their dependents and employees during a highly unusual year which presented many financial challenges.”
FMI said that it paid 92 percent of all claims made in 2020. Of the 8 percent of claims that were not paid, the leading cause of non-payment was that clients tried to claim under their income protection policies while still within their waiting period. In income protection terms, the waiting period was the number of days a policyholder must be sick or unable to work before a claim would start paying.
According to the Claims Report, 40 percent of claims lasted less than 30 days, with an average duration of 18 days for Covid claims. Claimants with a 7-day waiting period accounted for 86 percent of Covid claims. However, 64 percent of income protection policies sold had a waiting period of 30 days or longer. The company said that there was a need for consumer education around concepts such as waiting periods to ensure that clients understood and selected products that suit their needs.
FMI said it was important to note that only 2 of the top 10 claim causes for income protection were for conditions that would likely have resulted in a lump sum payout.
Despite this, the majority of policies sold in the industry during last year did not include income protection. Lump sum benefits dominated sales in the life insurance market, with life cover representing 61 percent of new sales. Lump sum disability and critical illness sales accounted for a further 32 percent, whilst income protection drew the short straw, with only 7 percent of sales.
Rasebotsa said the rebrand would open new opportunities for Independent Financial Advisers and demonstrates their commitment to supporting and growing their businesses. “Entrepreneurship is in our DNA and we look forward to this new era in our Bidvest Life journey and the endless possibilities.”
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE