Financial services group Liberty has reported an increase in mental health claims for 2021, particularly among professionals aged 35-54, as stress caused by Covid-19 weighed heavily.
Depression made up 45% of all Mental health claims accounted for 15% of schizophrenia and 10% of dementia claims. According to Chief Medical Officer, Dominique Stott, time anxiety, disability and grief also contributed to mental health claims,
“The stresses caused by the pandemic are having long-term effects, including a mental health crisis because people have lost loved ones , have been cut and are struggling to make ends meet due to the economic turmoil.”
Claims under its flagship Lifestyle Protector policy shot up from R6.43 billion to R10.12 billion. in 2021, mainly due to the pandemic. The delta wave and beta waves, coupled with “all other existing risk events that customers are typically exposed to outside of the virus,” contributed to the higher claims, the group said.
David Jewell, CEO of Liberty, said the impact of the pandemic became a reality over the course of the year.
“We anticipated this and have been able to be there for our customers during this difficult time. The pandemic has shown the value of insurance as it was a totally unexpected event and a reminder that life doesn’t always follow a predictable course,” said Jewell.
Covid-19-related claims totaled on R3. 47 billion paid out to customers and their families. More than 61% of these claims involved life insurance.
Other claims were due to cancer, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and stroke.
In men, prostate cancer was the most common, accounting for nearly 29% of cancer cases in men. In women, breast cancer was most common, accounting for 38% of female cancer cases. Various heart-related diseases accounted for 17.4% of all disease claims.
“Cancer and many heart diseases can be understood in part as lifestyle-related diseases and this reflects the health challenges faced by many South Africans. Stott said.
In terms of cut claims, according to Liberty, the numbers weren’t as high as in 2020, accounting for 7.2% of all lifestyle protector claims, compared to 8% a year earlier.< /p>< p>The cuts remain higher than pre-pandemic numbers, recorded amid difficult economic conditions in 2019.
“Unemployment in South Africa remains high and this weighs heavily on many South Africans, but the rate of increase has slowed from what was seen in 2020 during the early lockdown periods,” Jewell said 2.2 million jobs were lost in the first wave.
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