The Office of the Long-term Insurance Ombudsman records increases in number of funeral policy complaints after spike in deaths during the second wave of Covid-19 infections. Picture: File
The Office of the Long-term Insurance Ombudsman records increases in number of funeral policy complaints after spike in deaths during the second wave of Covid-19 infections. Picture: File

Spike in funeral policy complaints

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Aug 5, 2021

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The Ombudsman for long-term Insurance received an increase in complaints over funeral claims following the high number of deaths during the second wave of Covid-19 infections.

According to the ombud, the second wave of the pandemic that hit at the end of last year led to a surge in complaints.

Deputy Ombudsman for Long-term Insurance Denise Gabriels said they recorded a 48% increase in complaints in the first half of 2021 when compared to the same period in 2020.

“Our staff were under pressure to keep up with the increased workflow under difficult conditions. In addition, because we are still not fully back in the office, as are insurers, there were some constraints in the complaints handling process.

“Although we obviously cannot predict what will happen for the rest of the year, the third wave of the Covid-19 virus is likely to have an impact on the number of complaints, which means that the high numbers may well continue,” she added.

The ombud recorded 8300 requests for assistance in the first half of 2021 compared to 5606 during the same period last year. As many as 1 929 cases were finalised compared to 1 834 in 2020.

Gabriels said increased deaths at the end of 2020 led to a rise in funeral claims complaints.

“Some funeral insurers experienced a substantial increase in claims during the December/January holiday period when staff members were on leave. This resulted in instances of poor claims handling and delays, which in turn led to complaints to the OLTI,” she said.

“Complaints in the lapsing category were higher in 2021 than in 2020 as policyholders struggled to pay premiums under very difficult economic circumstances,” added Gabriels.

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