Cardiovascular disease, cancer and accidents remain the leading causes of claims

In 2019, Sanlam paid out over 99% of death claims. The insurer predicts a rise in claims for death, funeral, sickness and income protection in 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Petrie Marx, Product Actuary at Sanlam Individual Life

Petrie Marx, Product Actuary at Sanlam Individual Life, says that this year is a testament to how easily one’s health and life can change and the impact such a change can have on one’s finances, “The current uncertainty has made many people appreciate the importance of making sure their loved ones are looked after financially should something happen to them.”

Sanlam’s 2019 claims show that cardiovascular disease, cancer and accidents remain the leading causes of claims and the company is urging clients to futureproof their financial lives. The group revealed its 2019 claims statistics amounted to a whopping R4.3 billion. Of this, R397 million was paid for income cover, R3 251 million for life cover and R406.5 million for injury and trauma-related claims.

Marx adds, “Our 2019 stats show the risks of severe injury or illness unrelated to the coronavirus are real. Many people are underinsured or not insured at all, with the most recent research showing the biggest shortfall in disability cover.”

In 2019, 38% of income protection claims at Sanlam were paid to clients between the ages of 36 to 45, followed by 19% paid to those aged 26 to 35. Two-thirds of the claims were paid to male clients, who are predominantly the breadwinners of their families. This highlights that insurance for risks related to unemployment, disability and severe illness is important at any age.

“The value of risk cover is unfortunately only felt when something happens to you or your loved ones. At Sanlam, we remain committed to providing our clients with proper cover to ensure we keep to our promise of paying risk claims during some of the most difficult periods in our clients’ lives.

“In our view, when times are tough financially, it’s better to have some insurance in place to protect families than none at all,” concludes Marx.

More insights from Sanlam’s 2019 claims statistics:

  • Approximately 60% of severe illness claims paid were for cancer
  • More than 50% of all disability income benefit claims under Sanlam’s Income Protector were for accidents, injury and musculoskeletal conditions
  • More than 10% of all sickness claims were for pregnancy, childbirth, and puerperium complications
  • 80% of severe illness claims are attributed to cancer, heart attacks, stroke and coronary artery bypass grafting
  • Heart disease, cancer and accidents remain the leading causes of death claims
  • As in 2018, breast cancer remains the leading cause of severe illness claims by females
  • The majority of death and funeral claims were paid to individuals 55 years and older, the most income protection claims were made by individuals aged 36 to 55 years, and the most sickness claims were made by individuals aged 26 to 45 years
  • “Year on year we see an increase in claims related to disease of lifestyle and this confirms the public health warning that diseases of lifestyle are becoming more worrying and costly nationally as well as globally”, notes Dr Morkel, Chief Medical Officer at Sanlam. This is most evident in our severe illness claims experience. While our annual claims review is primarily intended to inform the public of the claims we have paid, we also encourage everyone to use this information to make healthy choices for themselves and their families.

Claims during COVID-19

With more than 100 years in insurance, Sanlam has survived previous pandemics, even paying eight death claims during the Spanish flu of 1918 (Sanlam’s first year in business). While the insurer does not specifically cover virus infections other than HIV, COVID-19 remains covered if it causes death or any other claimable event under a living benefit. “It’s important to understand that if COVID-19 should cause people to be unable to do their work or cause them, in terms of severe illness cover, some long-term lung damage, organ damage or cardiovascular problems, they will be covered regardless of whether it’s COVID-19 related or from something else”, concludes Marx.

For more information on claims due to COVID-19, visit sanlam.co.za



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