Insurers are following the stats, writes Maya Fisher-French.
This week, Discovery Life became the first insurance company to reward clients who are vaccinated and to apply a risk rating to new clients who choose not to get the Covid-19 jab.
When it comes to understanding the risks in a society, insurers generally offer the best insights. Insurance companies do not pay out for deaths that did not happen, and they will apply a risk rating on behaviours or the health status of clients they believe would lead to more illness or a higher mortality rate.
Therefore, people who smoke or have a chronic condition such as diabetes pay more for insurance cover.
Discovery Life’s statistics are telling them several things about Covid-19:
- Covid-19 affects younger people
- Middle-aged clients have the highest relative increase in mortality risk once becoming infected with Covid-19.
- Vaccines reduce severity of infection: He says they have already seen a 47% reduction in Covid-19 cases among people three weeks after receiving the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
- Vaccines reduce hospitalisation: Discovery Health data further highlights that people infected with the Delta variant of Covid-19 have a 95% lower risk of being hospitalised after receiving both doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
- Benefits outweigh risks: The risk of becoming infected by Covid-19 far outweighs any possible side effects of the vaccine. It would be counter-intuitive for an insurer to encourage people to do something that would increase their chances of death or illness.
Discovery Life’s deputy CEO, Gareth Friedlander, says there is a misconception that the increased mortality rate is only seen in the elderly.
“Our research reveals that middle-aged clients have the highest relative increase in mortality risk once becoming infected with Covid-19.
“The mortality risk is more than 10 times higher for people in their mid-forties, emphasising that the risks caused by contracting Covid-19 cannot be ignored in any age group,” Friedlander says.
He also confirms that, in the unlikely event of a client having an adverse reaction to the vaccine, they will be fully covered under their life insurance. Having a vaccine is not considered to be a risk to one’s health.
What does this mean for Discovery Life clients?
There are no changes to existing Discovery Life clients’ policies as the move will only be applied to new clients. Discovery Life states that being vaccinated against Covid-19 “is now an additional consideration in determining life insurance premiums for new clients, effective from July 29 2021”.
The CEO of Discovery Life, Riaan van Reenen, says clients with new polices who indicate that they will not get vaccinated may be subject to higher premiums due to the increased risk to their wellbeing.
A refusal to get vaccinated will be treated similarly to smoking or lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, which result in higher premiums.
This premium will be adjusted should an unvaccinated client later decide to get inoculated.
It is also offering new clients “maximum possible payback, given their selected payback option and integrator type, for the first year of their new policy”, says Van Reenen.
Clients are asked upfront if they have already been vaccinated or if they plan to get the jab as soon as circumstances allow. If they answer yes, they will get the offer.