Life, Funeral and Disability Cover most important during the global pandemic
By Martin Shaanika
MD Namforce Life Insurance.
The global pandemic has driven home various lessons but mainly it is that life is uncertain and the unexpected can happen at any moment. We have witnessed many losses of lives taken by the pandemic especially when it comes to the loss of loved ones due to COVID-19.
Headed into another year, of living with COVID most people, especially breadwinners want to ensure that their families are cared for after they have passed on and it is critical to be reminded of the advice given during a period when times were more certain than now.
While we cannot avoid certainties like death, we can prepare for them to ensure those left behind can mourn without added financial burdens and that the last worry is about financial constraints, let alone the heartache. COVID-19 is an ongoing health catastrophe and will continue to be Reports have shared that death claims increased 127% in the third wave and the life insurance industry saw the impact of the pandemic firsthand.
In the first two waves of COVID-19 (April 2020 to March 2021), death claims increased by 64% in rand value, according to the Association of Savings and Investment South Africa (ASISA). The third wave, (April 2021 to September 2021) saw death claims increase by 127% in rand value.
In the same six months in 2019, before COVID-19, insurers received just under 370,000 death claims. During the third wave, there were over 565,000 death claims.
With so many statistics seen through our neighboring country, this is a real eye-opener for us to become more vigilant and aware of preparedness while time still allows. Although times were tough financially, the importance of life insurance and funeral cover was never more evidently seen through alarming figures reported by ASISA.
If there are a few observations to take note of, we can see an increased focus on the importance of funeral benefits. Where employers haven’t had this type of cover for all staff previously (for example where contract workers aren’t covered for funeral benefits), insurers are looking to introduce funeral benefits. There has also been a need for funeral cover to provide benefits for not only the member, spouse, and children, but to extend to other family members would include the member’s parents, which is deemed important, especially for more rural settings.
COVID-19 not only continues to be an emotionally and mental devastating period, but it also has severely dented the pocket with the health risks it has shown, at a time when one can least afford it. A few best ways to avoid the high costs of COVID-19 and other severe illnesses it comes along with. A few include the following:
You are keeping screening for serious illnesses. One of the lingering impacts of the coronavirus pandemic has been the drop in preventative testing and screening – especially for illnesses such as cancer. Keeping healthy through managing chronic conditions, not smoking, as well as reaching and maintaining a healthy body weight will make your life cover premiums more affordable. Review your financial plans, is the best way to keep your house intact, review your financial plans to see how you can add additional emergency savings into your budget and ensure you have suitable insurance including life and funeral cover before it’s too late.
In addition, apart from life and funeral cover, COVID-19 has changed the game for disability insurance as well. For years, financial advisors and experts have been lending sound advice which overly emphasizes the importance of financial planning and preparing for the unexpected. It’s the only way to help safeguard your income and your family by having insurance protection in place before you get sick or injured significantly during such uncertain times we’re living in.
Last year Social Security Administration in South Africa estimated that a 20-year-old has a 1 in 4 chance of becoming disabled before they reach retirement age. With such a high estimated chance of becoming disabled, it is an eye-opener and a reminder of why products put on the market to help in such difficult moments are embraced. With the ground on the matter due to the pandemic, the insurers are still trying to determine how to verify some issues from “long COVID.” Unfortunately, some have been denied disability benefits despite being unable to work due to such symptoms caused by COVID. It is critical to get a regular check- ups and declare symptoms and family history much before COVID. Fortunately, the medical sector is developing better tests to properly diagnose these issues for claims.
In conclusion, expectations for any new waves and preparedness in the new year must be highly considered or even reviewed if not already. Consider meeting with a trusted financial advisor to discuss your options. At Namforce, we encourage all to act sooner rather than later—when COVID-19 first hit, it happened so quickly that people didn’t recognize the need until it was too late. Seek the best options that are affordable for you and most convenient.