During these times of uncertainty, health and wellbeing now has an added layer of meaning for us all. So, in what way can the life insurance industry better support this? Deputy CEO of Discovery Life, Gareth Friedlander shares with us how a new severe illness solution can.
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly highlighted the importance of having comprehensive life insurance cover. “That’s precisely why we’ve reassessed our product offerings quite extensively in recent months,” says Friedlander. “Our customers want to know that not only have we considered their changing needs, but that we can adapt quickly enough to provide for them.”
Quality of life has taken on a new meaning
“No one expects to one day have to deal with developing a severe illness. Yet, protective cover can be highly valuable to have in the event such a life-changing experience happens. It’s a helping hand at a critical time in someone’s life and that’s why we originally designed the Discovery Life Severe Illness Benefit as part of our comprehensive offering,” Friedlander explains.
“It’s all about enhancing the quality of people’s lives when it’s most needed. Our Severe Illness Benefit is an award-winning* offering and we’re proud of this product - it’s the most comprehensive out there.”
“Yet, the emergence of COVID-19 and its direct effects on the human body have shown us that an even more comprehensive product with more protective features is now in need,” he says.
Take care of what you value the most
“A changing reality tends to alter a sense of normalcy. When this shifts, so too do priorities. That’s where relevancy really matters to people,” says Friedlander.
“We pride ourselves in providing our customers with comprehensive life cover and offering a range of benefits we know are of utmost value to their lives. So, we needed to ensure that in this current climate we could remain relevant with what we already have on offer.”
“The Discovery Life Severe Illness Benefit is comprehensive in itself, but we did find ourselves asking the question - Is it comprehensive enough for people during a time of a pandemic? – Something we’ve never needed to design a product around before.”
“Not entirely,” admits Friedlander, and goes on to explain further. “We noted that there were industry gaps for which we now need to find solutions. Traditionally, life insurance cover for severe illnesses are assessed with a more ‘siloed’ approach and generally cover things like organ failure as a result of chronic conditions only.”
An illness like COVID-19 is now known to cause acute organ injury across multiple body systems. The shortfall of a siloed approach is that the impact on each body system in isolation may be insufficient, or may not be determined as permanent. In either circumstance, this would not result in a payment being made to a client even though the impact on their overall health is significant.
“So, after conducting research on how the illness can affect the body, we then developed ways to modernise what we already have in a way that offers the enhanced level of protection people now need,” he adds.
“This is where our Shared-value Insurance model is really quite meaningful – its flexible design enables us to shift and adapt to the times, building in added value and relevance at any point,” he adds.
Introducing a market first for multi-organ failure protection
COVID-19 is the acute medical condition, that sparked a need for more extensive severe illness cover. It’s now evident that this health condition can have serious consequences for a person’s cardiovascular, nervous, renal and respiratory systems – sometimes, all at once.
“So, we’ve developed a complementary benefit which takes the overall impact of this type of disease, and any others like it, into account, making it a market-first product in the country,” Friedlander says. “Now we have a product that can be used for all current and future multi-organ claims criteria assessment needs.”
“The new benefit is designed to complement our existing Severe Illness Benefit, providing protective cover for an acute illness with multiple organ involvement. Our newly developed Multi-Organ Benefit category allows for tiered severity payments to be made for claims, ranging between 50% and 100%,” explains Friedlander.
“So, the level of acute multi-organ failure at the time of a claim is assessed, and based on this a payment percentage of up to 100% will be made as a lump sum for the assured. So, should a disease like COVID-19 impact multiple organ systems of any one of our clients, this benefit will ensure that adequate cover is provided for the essential treatment and care they will need while in hospital.”
This cover is immediately available on our severe illness cover up to the age of 65 and is subject to underwriting. The claims category of this benefit has a survival period of 14 days.
“The way we see this benefit really improving the lives of our customers going forward is to be added to a comprehensive life policy, in particular, alongside Capital Disability and Income Continuation Benefits,” says Friedlander. “This particular benefit will help to cover unforeseen expenses that aren’t typically paid for by a medical aid plan or gap cover. So, having this kind of cover is helpful in being able to fund any additional cost needs that could not necessarily have been adequately planned for.”
“Falling ill may hamper a person’s ability to work and earn an income for a period of time too. So, an Income Continuation Benefit can really help to supplement earnings that may be lost while ill or recovering. Disability cover is also financially beneficial for someone, and by extension their families, should an earning policyholder develop a permanent disability that prohibits them from being able to receive their usual income.”
“This not only makes a life insurance portfolio more comprehensive, it also makes it relevant for today’s needs in the most beneficial way – for policyholders and those who are dearest to them. Taking such extra measures against any unforeseen life-changing events that may happen can certainly provide valuable peace of mind,” he concludes.
*As voted by the Independent Clinical Oncology Network.
This article does not constitute financial advice. 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 no liability will be accepted for the effect of any future legislative or regulatory changes. Product rules, terms and conditions apply.