Wow these are scary times. Only time will tell whether the actions being taken are necessary and proportional, but it seems clear that everyone has to do their part to slow the spread of the virus, and protect those who are most vulnerable to it.
The economic impact is certain to be devastating, as indicated by the huge losses being seen in South African (and global) stock markets. And we fear smaller businesses will feel this pain even more acutely.
Being in the business of selling and administering products that pay out large sums of money on the loss of life, this is obviously a concerning time. However, a situation like this is what insurance is here for, and we are well prepared for whatever is to come.
We wanted to deal with the main questions that our customers, or potential customers, are asking about the corona virus and what it means for Simply’s business and products. The 4 main questions we hear are:
1. Is death as a result of Covid-19 covered under my Simply Life and Funeral benefits?
Yes it is, there are no specific exclusions applied to claims where the insured person dies from this virus, regardless of where or how it is contracted. It’s important to understand that our standard exclusions would still apply, most importantly:
Death from natural causes during the waiting period (where applicable) is not covered. Death from this virus would be classified as a natural cause.
Where another serious underlying health condition was knowingly not disclosed, claims may not be paid, even if the final cause of death was Covid-19. Those most at risk from the virus, are those with some other health problems, for example HIV, TB or diabetes. According to Simply’s underwriting rules, if, when you applied, you had a serious health condition such as those (and knew about it) you should not qualify for standard cover anyway. If it becomes clear at the time of a claim that you did not disclose a known health problem at the time of applying, the claim may be denied. This would not be because the death was from the corona virus, but because you didn’t tell us about another health problem that put you at much greater risk of dying from this virus (and from many other infections).
2. Simply is a relatively young company. Can I be sure that the claims that might be coming as a result of this virus will be paid?
The majority of our clients are young and healthy, and should be able to withstand the worst effects of the virus. Putting that aside, most of the insurance risk in the products we sell is reinsured, which means we pass it on to another company, and we recover a large proportion of the claims we pay from them. Our reinsurer is RGA, one of the largest in the world, and is very well capitalized. Simply’s policies are only a very tiny part of their total portfolio. They are confident that they will easily be able to absorb the additional claims that may arise as a result of this virus. Then there is another layer of protection from our underwriter, Old Mutual Alternative Risk Transfer, who are part of the Old Mutual Group, one of South Africa’s largest and most venerable financial services companies. They are the insurer behind Simply products, and stand behind the promises implicit in these policies.
3. Can I still apply for life cover if I know or suspect that I (or in the case of our Group or Domestic Cover, my employees) have the Covid-19 virus?
Yes, you can. Being infected with this virus does not prevent you or your staff from being offered full cover by Simply, you can apply right now. However, again there are a few things to bear in mind:
As above, if the insured person dies from natural causes during the first 6 months, the standard waiting period for Family and Domestic Cover products will apply.
If the insured person has another serious or chronic health condition, such as HIV or diabetes, these should be disclosed, and in that case, unfortunately you or your staff would not qualify for full cover (whether you have the virus or not).
Bear in mind though, that in the case of Group Cover, as long as you’re covering at least 5 staff, they will get R500k of cover without having to answer any questions about their health. However, they will need to be actively at work when the cover incepts. If they are already sick and off work due to this illness (or any other), they cannot be added to the policy until they recover and return to work.
4. Should I expect any disruptions in the service I receive from Simply?
No you should not. We are confident that we will be able to continue to offer you the same great service during this turbulent period. We are taking every precaution to keep our staff healthy, and if things get worse, many of them have the ability to continue working from home. So even if South Africa moves into lockdown, we will still be available to service your policies and pay any claims that come in.
We hope that these answers give you some comfort. The corona virus should have no impact on the cover you have with Simply, or on our ability to continue to meet your needs. And you should be confident to take out new cover through Simply, or increase the cover you have. Simply and our partners will still be here to protect you and your families, regardless of the path this virus takes.