A new approach by Metropolitan, using disruptive technology, may help to reduce the estimated R20 billion in unclaimed benefits from life assurance and investment policies that are due to as many as 3.5 million South Africans.
Deidre Wolmarans, the head of life events solutions at Metropolitan, says that most of this unclaimed money is in the form of residual benefits from lapsed policies, which policyholders are unaware of after they stop their monthly payments.
“Usually, a change of address is involved, and we cannot trace the beneficiary, or the policyholder has died and the next of kin are unaware of the existence of the policy,” Wolmarans says.
Industry regulations ensure that the financial product providers themselves can never take ownership either of the unclaimed benefits or of any interest accruing to them.
Metropolitan recently partnered with fintech company Colab, using its products FindBen and PayBen, to help trace beneficiaries.
“The primary motivation is simply to do the right thing by paying the money due to beneficiaries,” Wolmarans says, “and it’s a great positive to surprise and delight them with a completely unexpected pay-out.”
Wolmarans says the new proprietary model uses an unconventional tracing method that is set to disrupt the market and is already yielding a relatively higher success rate than traditional methods: “In just one exercise with Colab, we were able to find and pay out R20 million to 18 140 beneficiaries securely, quickly and more efficiently”.
Colab chief executive Will Green says he believes the model “has demonstrated that we can decrease a financial services provider’s liability, increase overall operational efficiencies and deliver additional goodwill to the provider and its clients”.
Wolmarans encourages anyone who suspects there might be an unclaimed benefit owing to them to get in touch with Metropolitan.