The Association for Savings and Investment South Africa (ASISA) has published its latest death claims statistics, showing that 1,023,083 policyholders died between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021.
The association said that the statistics reflect claims made against individual life, group life (offered by employers), credit life and funeral cover policies.
Hennie de Villiers, deputy chair of the ASISA life and risk board committee, said that this represents an increase of 309,733 lives lost compared to the death claims statistics for the previous 12 months when 713,350 policyholders died.
“These are staggering numbers, and there is no doubt that Covid-19 has caused many of these additional deaths, whether directly as a result of a person contracting the virus or because people were reluctant to seek medical attention for other serious conditions.
“The hard lockdown conditions, curfews and alcohol bans would have reduced violent and accidental deaths,” he said.
De Villiers said that the beneficiaries of the 1,023,083 policyholders have received death benefits of R47.58 billion across all lines of risk business.
This represents a 64% increase in the value of claims paid by life insurers compared to the previous 12 month period when R29.08 billion was paid, he said.
This also represents a R47.58 billion injection into the country’s economy when industries like the tourism industry and the liquor industry were throttled due to the Covid-19 pandemic resulting in massive job losses.
“The reality is that during a period when job losses and salary cuts reduced retail spending, death benefits paid would have played an important role in supporting the economy,” De Villiers said.
Covid-19 is not over yet
De Villiers said that the biggest jump in the value of benefits paid was in the individual life space, where life insurers reported a 70% increase.
In the 12 months to the end of March 2021, life insurers paid R29.11 billion to the beneficiaries of individual life policies, compared to R17.12 billion in the previous 12 month period, he said.
De Villiers said that the highest increase in the number of death claims took place in the funeral insurance space, where the number of deaths recorded increased by 216,705 in the 12 months to the end of March 2021.
Despite the significant increase in claims paid as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the life insurance industry remains resilient and able to support its policyholders and their beneficiaries throughout this difficult time and beyond., he said.
“As an industry, we expect the death claims statistics for the current financial year to tell a grim story as they will reflect the severity of the current Covid-19 third wave.
“While the life industry remains well capitalised and in a strong position to continue paying death claims, no amount of money can make up for the loss of a loved one. We, therefore, urge all South Africans to get vaccinated rather than risk death, severe illness or even potential long-term debilitating side effects often caused by Covid-19.”