- Sanlam Corporate says it's "very concerned" about the likely severity of third wave of Covid-19 infections.
- Low availability of vaccines and misinformation deterring people from taking jabs aren't helping.
- Insurers have already paid billions of rands in death claims in the first quarter of 2021.
While insurers were hoping that the third wave of Covid-19 infections would not be as severe as the second wave, they are starting to fear a possible repeat of what happened between December 2020 and February this year.
"What we're seeing at the moment is that the third wave is tracking very closely to the second wave. We were hopeful that the third wave would not be in the region of the second wave. So, we are extremely concerned," said the CEO of Group Risk at Sanlam Corporate, Michelle Jennings.
Speaking at Sanlam Corporate's 2021 retirement benchmark survey presentation, Jennings said the low availability of Covid-19 vaccines and rumours that some vaccine centres are standing empty, and people fearing to take the vaccine because of misinformation in social media created a recipe for rapid spreading of the virus now that new infections are breaching the 10 000-mark every day.
When they said they were expecting a kinder third wave, Jennings said insurers' models were based on assumptions that there would be a little bit more community or population immunity because of the extremes of the virus exposure in the second wave.
"But that doesn't really seem to be coming through, and it's very concerning," said Jennings. The second wave hit insurers hard.
While Sanlam's death claims mirrored the national trend in the first wave, in the second wave, the insurer's death claims were higher than the national trend. And that's something that the industry representative body, Association for Savings & Investment South Africa, said was consistent among all major insurers.
The virus claimed more lives in the insured working population, and deaths were 400% greater than the expected mortality.
In May, Old Mutual reported that it paid approximately R2.7 billion of Covid-19-related death claims in the first quarter. Jennings said Sanlam paid R3.8 billion in the first quarter of 2021.
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