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Sanlam on 2020 COVID-19 Claims

By Petrie Marx, 5 February 2021

Sanlam Individual Life paid out over R456 million in COVID-19-related claims in 2020. Over R26 million was paid to clients for sickness and income protection benefits and over R426 million was paid for death and funeral claims.

Petrie Marx, Product Actuary at Sanlam, says there were clear spikes in claims throughout the year, “August was a big spike, with death and funeral claims double the amount paid from March to July. Payouts reflect the patterns of the pandemic and we will likely see another spike from December 2020 to February 2021, following the crest of the second wave.”

Marx says that 85% of the claims for the sickness and income protector benefit came from the medical and health services occupation. Most of the death and funeral claims were paid out to non-underwritten funeral lives (27%), essential services and Government occupations (22%), and pensioners (21%).

He adds that while claims for fatalities were initially relatively low from March to June 2020, amounting to over R12 million, claims for death and funeral benefits increased from July to December 2020 to make up over R414 million in claims. Additionally, Sanlam paid out 1 061 claims for the sickness and income protector benefit, amounting to over R29 million.

He explains that many clients were concerned about who would take care of their loved ones should they pass away; and worried about their ability to continue working and earning an income. “Having sufficient risk cover in place is critical to help mitigate these risks and concerns.”

According to Sanlam’s latest COVID-19 claims stats, more than 90% of total death and funeral claims were for individuals over the age of 50. On the other hand, the vast majority – 88% – of claims for sickness and income protection were for individuals younger than 50, reflecting the economically active population.

This was also reflected in the occupational breakdown, with a large number of pensioners succumbing to COVID-19, according to global stats. Claims for sickness and income protection were heavily skewed towards individuals in medical and health services. Death and funeral claims were weighed more towards male clients at 60%, again in line with worldwide experience for COVID-19, while slightly more women (51%) were affected by sickness and temporary inability to work.

Another interesting finding is that the majority of sickness and income protection claims were from Gauteng, as the economic hub of our country, whereas most death and funeral claims came from Gauteng and the Eastern Cape – also in a way a reflection of the national statistics. Marx warns that care needs to be taken when interpreting these trends as they are also strongly influenced by the areas, where Sanlam products have been sold in the past.

“Behind each claim we pay out for COVID-19 and other conditions, is an individual or family for which these payments made a real difference. The COVID-19 pandemic has again made us aware of life’s risks and our vulnerabilities, as well as the importance of ensuring that you are properly covered to have peace of mind that you can withstand such an unexpected health event in future,” concludes Marx.

Sanlam Life Insurance is a licensed financial service provider.
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