The answer is yes. You and your family will automatically by covered by your existing life, funeral and income protection insurance policies if you contract Covid-19. There's no need to procure life policies that specifically cover the virus.
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In fact, your biggest risk as a healthy person from the coronavirus is a potential loss of income if you have to be isolated or are unable to work, says Marius Botha, the chief executive of Stangen. If contracting the virus results in a temporary disability, and you have used all your sick leave, income protection products would pay out where applicable.
“The coronavirus will not affect the policies of existing customers in any way. If you die or become disabled after acquiring the virus post take-up of your policy, you will be covered (provided all other terms and conditions are met). New customers, however, will have to disclose if they have the virus, or think they might have it, so we can apply the necessary medical underwriting rules. The coronavirus is something we cannot ignore, but the role of an insurer is to manage risk – and epidemic and pandemic risks like Covid-19 are generally planned for by life insurers in the normal course,” said Botha.
The customer’s responsibility is simply to be honest in all their disclosures.
There are three main insurance products that could be affected by coronavirus-related claims:
- Life insuranceIn the case of life cover your policy will pay out if you pass away as a result of acquiring the coronavirus.
- Funeral coverFor funeral cover it will also pay out, provided you have served the waiting period on the policy for a claim to occur for example first six months for main members or 12 months for extended family members
- Salary protectionWith group income disability or salary protection policies, it’s important to check the exact terms of your policy. Generally speaking, though, if you get the virus and it results in you no longer being able to perform your occupation, then you will most likely have a valid claim, assuming all sick leave has been utilised and deferred periods have been served.
It is also important to know that critical illness products cater for specific major critical illnesses, like open heart surgery, heart attacks, strokes and cancer. Coronavirus is not covered under this product offering.
There are a range of practical measures that employers can take to respond to the challenges posed by the coronavirus, starting with a clear policy for self-quarantine, absenteeism, sick leave and working from home. These include:
- Educate staff on how to protect themselves and others from the virus. Face masks are not required for healthy people.
- Instruct staff that are ill or have low immune strength to stay at home or work from home as a precautionary measure if there’s an elevated risk in your specific environment.
- Practice better hygiene. Have offices cleaned with higher frequency in common areas using antiseptic products.
- Maintain social distancing. Beware shaking hands as a form of greeting. Beware anyone on public transport that is coughing.
- Limit domestic and international travel where possible.
- Avoid large gatherings, such as conferences, where possible.
- Ensure you communicate clearly and work collaboratively. Be understanding and patient with your employees.