(CDC)

For people with life insurance, cancer is usually a big killer, says Discovery Life.

Covid-19 is now bigger. It is also bigger than heart disease – and everything else combined.

In the 2021 year, up to August, deaths attributed to Covid-19 stood at 57% of its total claims, said Discovery Life in an annual analysis of its data. That compares to an average, over nine years, of 27% of deaths from various heart and artery diseases.

That makes for a big new category of payouts. Up to the end of June 2021 it had already paid R3 billion in claims related to Covid-19, the company said in a statement. It is projecting that number to reach R6.2 billion by the middle of next year.

Discovery Life is not counting on that being the last of the coronavirus either.

"Covid-19 is likely to become an endemic disease in the near future with a continued impact on society in the years to come," said chief executive Riaan van Reenen.

Life insurance companies have proven extremely keen on getting their customers, and South Africans in general, vaccinated for the coronavirus. FNB Life added R2 million to prize draw by its parent, First National Bank, for customers. In the middle of the year, Discovery Life said it would treat failure to get vaccinated as a risk similar to smoking, with premiums adjusted accordingly.

That was after the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa released industry-wide numbers for 2020 that showed a nearly 40% increase in claims compared to the previous year, most of them on funeral policies.

(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)

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