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Life industry waives war exclusions for peacekeepers

30 January 2007 LOA

South African soldiers deployed across Africa in various peacekeeping missions no longer have to worry about life insurance companies rejecting death or disability claims should something happen to them.

In terms of a protocol signed recently with the South African Defence Force (SANDF), the Life Offices' Association (LOA) requested its member life companies to waive war exclusion clauses for South African soldiers involved in peace keeping operations. A similar agreement has also been signed with the South African Police Services (SAPS).

Currently there are more than 5 500 South African soldiers deployed in peacekeeping operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in the Republic of Burundi and in the Sudan under United Nations, African Union or Southern African Development Community (SADC) mandates. 

Gerhard Joubert, CEO of the LOA, says in terms of the SANDF and SAPS protocols member life companies have agreed to waive the war exclusions normally applied to products such as life cover, disability and functional impairment cover, critical illness and dread disease cover, accident benefits and health insurance such as hospital plans. Participation by life companies is, however, voluntary.

Joubert says the life industry agreed to support South Africa's peacekeeping initiatives by waiving war exclusions because peace and stability in Africa will directly impact on the success of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), a strategic framework for Africas renewal. NEPAD aims to address the challenges facing Africa such as increasing poverty levels, continuous marginalisation of the continent and the slow progress of empowering women.

The protocol applies to international peacekeeping operations sanctioned by the United Nations, the African Union and SADC provided proper medical facilities are provided for at all times. It also applies to participation by soldiers or police officers in international training exercises. The war exclusions will also be waived for soldiers assisting police operations within the country or who are involved in border control operations within South Africa.

These exclusions will, however, not be waived where soldiers and police officers are involved in peace enforcement operations as the risk increases substantially.  

Peacekeeping operations are aimed at maintaining peace agreements or cease-fire agreements and only take place when peace has already been established and combat situations are not likely.

Peace enforcement operations on the other hand are aimed at deploying military forces as a last diplomatic resort to convince opposing parties to cease combat in order to reach a peace agreement. These operations generally take place when peace has not been fully established and combat situations may be possible.

Joubert advises that members of the public traveling to known conflict areas should notify their life companies before departure and also enquire whether they will be covered should anything happen to them. While war exclusions are generally only applied if someone actively participates in acts of war some life companies require prior notification.

Joubert stresses that the war exclusion protocol does not apply to South Africans who participate as security guards in conflict areas such as Iraq.

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