This in an unusual time as the global COVID-19 pandemic challenges societies and economies. While we don’t know what to expect on every front, in times like these life and personal insurance can give some certainty.
Dr Maritha van der Walt, Chief Medical Officer at Discovery Life, echoes this sentiment saying, "Having life insurance regardless of what is happening around us in the world can be comforting in some way. As people are confronted with the uncertainty of possible illness or other life-changing events, insurance gives a level of certainty that financial needs will be taken care of if someone’s health is severely compromised."
Dr Van der Walt says, “Based on the current information on COVID-19, the majority of patients have mild symptoms. Only very severe cases with secondary complications of the virus need hospitalisation and possibly mechanical ventilation.” Even considering this, COVID-19 is a reminder about the importance of life insurance.
Is it too late to take out cover?
"It is never too late to protect your and your family’s financial welfare. While insurance is always a critical financial services product, the COVID-19 pandemic has served as a reminder of this for some people. People can still take out new policies, which will be fully underwritten, and clients can make changes to existing policies. As with any insurance, full disclosure of all the necessary details is important. If someone is already sick and did not disclose this information, processing the application may be delayed until after a full recovery," she says.
Insurance is often somewhat of a grudge purchase and, in tougher financial times, it could also be one of the first things to downgrade or cancel. Dr Van der Walt cautions against this. ”There are many factors to consider and as this situation develops, it could become a reality that people will feel some pressure in their personal finances. It’s important to do everything possible to make sure you have insurance for all life-changing events and not only for COVID-19. It gives reassurance of financial support when you’re faced with the unexpected,” she says.
The different benefits of a life insurance policy
There are different types of benefits available on long-term insurance policies. The Discovery Life Plan has been designed to give comprehensive protection when our clients and their families need it the most. The current COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. The unique features across all our benefits make sure that our clients are comprehensively protected against the effect that this virus can have on their and their family’s lives.
We spoke to Dr Van der Walt to understand how each benefit will protect policyholders in case of COVID-19 associated loss of income, disability, severe illness or death.
All existing cover remains relevant for clients
One of the main reasons why people buy long-term insurance is for the lump-sum payment to selected beneficiaries in case of death. As COVID-19 is a completely new illness, will it be covered?
Dr Van der Walt says, “Of course it will be. It’s crucial for everyone to follow the recommendations to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. While the current indicated fatality rate due to the virus is fairly low, all policyholders with Discovery Life can rest assured they are fully covered under their life cover benefit.”
Long-term insurance policies also have a component of cover in case of disability. “While more research will be necessary, early indications are that there should not be a high incidence of long-term disability. At this stage, fortunately, it seems that people recover fully. In the unlikely event of permanent disability due to secondary complications that fall under one of the Capital Disability Benefit’s claims criteria, we will assess the claim in line with Discovery’s normal claims assessment criteria,” confirms Dr Van der Walt.
A small percentage of the population who have COVID-19 experience severe illness and may need hospitalisation and possible ventilation. She says, ”Benefits in case of severe illness will work the same as cover you have for other conditions. When someone needs to be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU), for example, Discovery Life will review and pay these claims for ICU stays and emergency procedures according to the policy’s cover for severe illness and, if applicable, ancillary benefits, such as the Family Trauma Benefit.”
When income is affected due to COVID-19
"Discovery Life’s income continuation benefits are market leading and our clients will have income protection when they are sick and unable to work, including from illness due to COVID-19. Policies may have specified waiting periods to claim from this benefit, for example 7 days, 30 days, or 3 months and more," explains Dr Van der Walt.
Dr Van der Walt stresses that the benefits available through life insurance policies are for the illness of and injury to the insured person. These benefits do not apply for financial loss due to business interruption or being unable to earn an income due to the stay-at-home measures imposed by the government to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Discovery Life Limited, registration number 1966/003901/06, is a registered long-term insurer, and an authorised financial services and registered credit provider. NCR Reg No. NCRCP3555. Product rules, terms and conditions apply.