Discovery Life has announced that new clients who refuse to be vaccinated against Covid-19 will be treated similarly to smoking or lifestyle diseases such as diabetes — which receive a higher premium.
This premium may be adjusted should an unvaccinated client later decide to get vaccinated.
“COVID-19 has touched every facet of our society, and we have received claims from clients of all profiles,” said Discovery Life CEO Riaan van Reenen.
“Clear trends have emerged over the last year. These relate to gender, age, lifestyle choices, co-morbidities and occupation, which influence the number and severity of Covid-19 claims.”
He said that Covid-19 adds significant risk to the health of life insurance clients across all age groups.
Mortality rates also rise far above the average population mortality rates once a client has tested positive for Covid-19.
“Our research reveals that middle-aged clients have the highest relative increase in mortality risk once becoming infected with Covid-19,” said Van Reenen.
“The relative mortality risk is highest for people in their mid-40s, emphasising that the risks caused by contracting Covid-19 cannot be ignored in any age group.”
Van Reenen said that risk due to Covid-19 is two-fold — mortality and morbidity risk.
While life cover will always be essential, with its value amplified throughout the pandemic, morbidity risks manifest through benefits such as the Income Continuation Benefit and Severe Illness Benefits, which are associated with severe cases of Covid-19.
By reducing their risks from Covid-19, Discovery Life clients create savings that the company said could be returned to them.
Healthy behaviours are proven to lower a client’s risk. A healthier client exhibits lower mortality, morbidity and lapse rates.
“When our clients lead a healthy life, it allows us to derive insurance savings over a longer period. Through engagement with Vitality, we can determine a client’s individual level of risk and pass these insurance savings back to them through rewards such as lower premiums and PayBacks,” Van Reenen said.
This same concept applies to vaccinations since they result in healthier clients.
“Our internal data suggests that an average 75-year-old who is fully vaccinated has a similar risk of dying from Covid-19 to a typical 40-year-old who has not been vaccinated,” said Van Reenen.
“Vaccinations are also extremely effective in preventing hospitalisations. A recent study showed that even if only 8% of a population does not get fully vaccinated, that 8% is expected to experience more hospitalisations than the other 92%,” Van Reenen explained.
“This follows from the fact that fully vaccinated individuals experience a 94% lower real rate of admission than those who are not vaccinated.”
If a new Discovery Life client is vaccinated against Covid-19, Discovery Life will return this value to them through the Vaccination Max PayBack Offer.
This offer provides vaccinated clients who qualify for PayBacks the maximum PayBack percentage available to them for the first year of their policy.
“This is significant as Discovery Life clients can earn PayBacks of up to 100% depending on their chosen policy options,” said Discovery Life deputy CEO Gareth Friedlander.
The vaccination status of the main client on the policy is considered for the offer.
Discovery said its decision comes on the back of clear evidence on the efficacy of vaccinations and South Africa’s acceleration of its vaccination campaign during the remainder of 2021.
Research further highlighted that people infected with the Delta Covid-19 variants have a 95% lower risk of being hospitalised after having both doses of the Pfizer vaccine, with significant benefits even after a single dose, Discovery said.
This research also revealed that clients have a 47% lower risk of contracting Covid-19 three weeks after taking their first dose of the Pfizer vaccination.
The new rules for premium calculations and Discvory Life’s PayBack reward mechanism came into effect on 29 July 2021.