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Momentum Life Insurance pays out R1.4bn for Covid-19 related death claims

Momentum Life Insurance says its claims experience proves first-hand that the vaccines work. Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/AP

Momentum Life Insurance says its claims experience proves first-hand that the vaccines work. Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/AP

Published Aug 31, 2021

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Momentum Life Insurance has paid close to R1.4 billion, this year, up to July, for 842 Covid-19 related death claims, due to the devastation inflicted by the second and third waves of the pandemic.

The claims, so far this year, show a steep increase from last year.

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Jenny Ingram, the insurer’s head of product development, said last year, of the R5.5 billion in claims paid, more than R370 million was for 217 Covid-19-related death claims.

Ingram said, respiratory death claims, in which Covid-19 is categorised, formed the third highest number of claims in 2020, representing 19 percent of their 2020 death claims. However, the top two reasons for death claims at Momentum Life Insurance in 2020 remained Cardiovascular Disease at 28 percent followed by cancer with 25 percent of claims.

Although only representing 19 percent of total death claims, respiratory complications, Ingram said, they had seen a dramatic increase of 145 percent from the previous year, adding that “this increase is directly linked to Covid19”.

She said Momentum had seen an obvious increase in the number of death claims in this period, with the majority of Covid-19-related death claim payouts made to clients older than 60 years of age.

“Although most of those clients who passed away were old enough to retire, we cannot ignore the fact that our youngest client to pass away from Covid-19 was only 31 years old. The virus does not discriminate. However, based on evidence from our claims experience relating to clients in the healthcare profession, it is clear that a vaccination is our best solution to the Covid-19 problem,” said Ingram.

Another interesting trend that was observed during 2020, was that high value death claims of R10 million or more, almost doubled from the year before.

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In terms of the largest Covid-19 death claim paid out by Momentum Life Insurance in 2020, an amount of R70m was paid. The client, who was otherwise healthy and in his 60s, contracted the virus 18 days after his policy started, and sadly passed away a month later.

“Thanks to the life cover he had in place, his family and business was financially secure after he passed away,” said Ingram.

Regarding the geographic spread, Ingram said the provincial split might be unsurprising to most with Gauteng at 41 percent, KwaZulu-Natal at 10 percent, followed by the Western Cape with 10 percent of claims.

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Ingram said that as the country battled the impact of the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, statistics clearly indicated that the fear of contracting the virus prevented many people from consulting with their doctors or specialists regarding treatment for the most prevalent chronic diseases in the country, which the statistics reveal as cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases.

She said this trend was also highlighted by The Hospital Association of South Africa, which mostly represents private hospitals. On a global scale, the number of new oncology patient registrations had decreased by 50 percent year-on-year during periods of severe Covid-19 increases in countries with established oncology care programmes.

“In all likelihood, this will result in an unusual increase in the number of claims for critical illnesses going forward.”

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From an income protection point of view, from March 2020 until July 2021, Momentum Life Insurance paid 902 Covid-19 related income protection claim payouts to a total value of more than R20 million.

She said one thing remained certain in these times which was that getting vaccinated was the best thing any South African could do to protect their families, themselves, and the nation’s economy.

“Our claims experience proves first-hand that the vaccines work. Every jab enables the continuation of our journeys to success. Every push of the syringe enables life.”

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