FIFI PETERS: There has been a lot of talk these days about whether the Covid-19 vaccine should be mandatory. Discovery has indicated that unvaccinated members will be classified as higher risk, similar to smokers, which could increase the cost of their premiums.
To discuss the impact of the Covid-19 vaccine on life coverage, we are joined by Graham Thomas, divisional executive for risk product development at Liberty Corporate. Graham, thank you very much for your time. Will there be a different treatment under Liberty for those who are vaccinated compared to those who are not? This relates specifically to the cost of coverage.
GRAHAM THOMAS: Good evening Fifi and thanks for the opportunity. For our part, considering that we at Liberty Corporate are currently providing benefits to retirement funds and employers, it has often been very difficult to understand whether or not your staff or employees have been vaccinated.
So at this stage, we are not approaching that with price differentials or a difference in underwriting approach, particularly given that little of the population has been vaccinated. As you know, only in the last week a large part of the working population between 18 and 35 years old has even had the opportunity to be vaccinated.
FIFI PETERS: Surely there should be a difference, given the argument that vaccines reduce the risk of disease and even death. One could argue that it can be argued that people who are vaccinated or companies that have a large part of their staff vaccinated should actually pay less because they are “less risky.”
GRAHAM THOMAS: Yes absolutely. And I think it is very possible that we will come to that. We just think, particularly in today’s environment where roughly 7% of the population has been vaccinated, saying we’re going to load everyone up now and start cutting back as they get vaccinated is not entirely fair to those who haven’t. vaccinated. the opportunity to get vaccinated.
As you know, the government’s deadline is to vaccinate a large portion of the population before the end of the year, so it is quite possible that as the numbers start to evolve and we understand where the surge type of experience is settling. post-initials. , we could start doing that and say, well, we could limit your coverage or charge you more. But we haven’t made that call yet. We believe that there is still a lot of uncertainty about how many people will be vaccinated and what impact it will ultimately have. But it is very possible that we will come to that. We haven’t made that decision yet.
FIFI PETERS: He makes an interesting comment, especially in regards to who has been able to access the vaccine so far. I think we are now at the point where all adults can sign up and go get the jab. A catch-up conversation, I guess, wouldn’t be a bad idea towards the end of the year if you changed.
But right now, what would you like your members to realize in terms of what changes when it comes to life coverage?
GRAHAM THOMAS: I think, for us, the most important thing we want to make sure people understand is that especially as you keep hearing (talking) about fake news, and some of the stories that have circulated are kind of fake news articles with People who say: “If you have been vaccinated it is experimental and the insurance company will invalidate your coverage”, for us it is very worrying that there are stories like the one there is, because it is not entirely true.
So it is important for us to understand that if you have the vaccine and develop any complications, you are still insured in terms of your policy with us. And if you do not have the vaccine and develop Covid or any other complication, in terms of the conditions of the policy and the benefit report with us. you still have your cover.
I think it’s very important that the man on the street and the covered person understand that insurers are not walking away from you at this particular time. So whether you choose to have the vaccine or not, you are still insured in terms of the policy and benefits that you have purchased, and you shouldn’t be saying, well, “I’m not going to have the vaccine because the insurer might then give the turn around and say, “You could say you’ve had this experimental treatment and therefore it’s not insured.” “That’s totally and categorically false. We don’t want people to believe that.
FIFI PETERS: I didn’t even know that news of that nature was circulating, Graham. But is there anything else that listeners should consider in this process, especially when it comes to paying claims?
GRAHAM THOMAS: I do not think so. The reality is that we are one of the many large insurers that have, as you will know if you have looked at any of the financial results that have been released in recent weeks and the business updates from some of the big insurers. who have set aside large provisions to pay for Covid claims. So we will be around to pay them.
All insurers have ensured that we have the ability to pay those claims, so there should be no real delays in paying claims. There should be no hassle getting your claims paid. If they have … [5:22] and meet the conditions, claims will be paid. Insurers have the funds, reserves, and capacity to pay for these claims.
FIFI PETERS: Good to know, Graham. Thank you very much for joining the SAfm market update and also for clarifying and debunking the fake news circulating regarding the checkout process.
That was Graeme Thomas, a divisional venture product development executive at Liberty Corporate.