New Discovery data shows death and illness statistics for South Africa

New data from insurer Discovery shows that it has paid out R1.48 billion in group risk claims in 2020.

At least R100 million of this amount was directly due to Covid-19, Discovery said. The company offers group risk benefits that include life cover, global cover for the education of employees’ children, severe illness cover, lump-sum and monthly disability protection, and funeral cover.

“2020 has been a stressful year for employers across the board, particularly for decision makers seeking to protect their employees and their families against financial difficulty,” said Guy Chennells, head of product for Discovery Employee Benefits.

“We have seen the high value our clients place on these benefits as almost all our clients continued to prioritise maintaining cover during this period of financial difficulty.

“Many of our pension and provident fund clients took payment holidays to ease cashflow pressure, but wisely continued to pay for our comprehensive risk cover all the way through,” Chennells said.

Some of the key findings from Discovery’s data include:

  • The group reported at least 79 group risk claims related to Covid-19, with the trend following the national trend through our first wave. To date R9.5 million has been the highest Covid-19 related pay-out;
  • The largest single pay-out under the life cover benefit, for all causes of death, was R18 million;
  • 85% of causes of death were natural, with an average age of 47;
  • Almost one in five death claims were due to unnatural causes, which affect clients no matter their age or underlying health. In this category, the average age was 40;
  • The most common cause of death for males was due to unnatural causes, such as motor vehicle accidents. Males are 2.3 times more likely to die of unnatural deaths than females;
  • The largest number of claims received within the year was from Discovery’s income continuation benefit. In this category, people younger than 40 mostly claimed for nervous system conditions (these include strokes), the musculoskeletal disorder was the most common reason to claim for people aged 40 to 60, and cancer was the main cause of disability for people older than 60;
  • Cancer is also the main reason both males and females claim from the Severe Illness Benefit, making up 48% of all claims. The largest single claim pay-out was for colon cancer. Discovery received four times more claims for heart and artery conditions for males (21%) than females (5%).
  • The highest number of severe illness claims was from the 31 to 40 age group. However, the highest total value of claims was within the 51 to 60 age band as these individuals’ claims were of a higher severity than that of younger members.

“A pandemic brings claims payment into the spotlight; but the reality is that we are there for people through their life crises day in and day out,” said Chennells.

“On average, we pay out a claim every 80 minutes, and to date, Discovery Group Risk has paid out 48,800 claims to the value of R10.2 billion in total.”


Read: 50 large companies in South Africa commit to paying SMEs faster

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New Discovery data shows death and illness statistics for South Africa