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Sanlam’s claims stats reveal fascinating trends for women and youth

10 June 2024 Sanlam

Sanlam, a leading financial services group, today released its claim statistics for 2023, showing its unwavering commitment to paying on its promise.

In 2023, Sanlam paid out R10.7 billion in claims across both Sanlam Group Risk and Sanlam Risk and Savings. Sanlam Risk and Savings paid over R6 billion for claims, and this amounted to R18 million in payouts every working day. Furthermore, 67% of sickness and disability income claims were paid to clients under 45, highlighting a significant trend in the needs of younger clients.

This was one of the trends explored in depth in the Sanlam Risk and Savings division’s webinar on Individual Life Claims, presented on 10 June by Petrie Marx, Product Actuary at Sanlam Risk and Savings, and Dr Marion Morkel, Sanlam’s Chief Medical Officer.

Key highlights from Sanlam Risk and Savings 2023 claim statistics:

• Total Claims Paid: Claims came to over R6 billion.
• Death Claims: 99% of all submitted death claims were paid, with the largest individual claim amounting to over R36 million. The oldest deceased claim was for a 109-year-old, and the youngest was for a 1-year-old.
• Younger Clients: A significant portion of claims were paid to younger clients, with 67% of sickness- and disability income claims paid to clients under 45.
• 5-year trend: Covid-19 caused a clear spike in claims, starting in 2020 and peaking in 2021. In 2022 and 2023, Sanlam continued to pay some claims for Covid-19 and also saw a slight elevation in other respiratory claims.
• The big four: Across all Sanlam benefits, cardiovascular incidents were the biggest cause of claims at 18%; followed by cancer at 15%; then respiratory illnesses at 12%; and accidents, violence, and injury at 12%. These four accounted for 57% of all claims paid.

Marx says, "Sanlam recognises that behind every claim is a name, a story and a family. Sanlam remains steadfastly committed to helping move lives forward financially by paying on our promise when it matters the most. We encourage people to start talking more openly about risk cover and the way they’re choosing to protect the people they love. By having these courageous conversations, we can help amplify awareness around the need for policies to help people have the right support for when unthinkable, costly life curveballs happen.

“Young people, especially, often think they are invincible, but our statistics show a significant number of claims come from clients under 45. It's crucial for younger individuals to have appropriate cover, such as income protection and severe illness insurance, to safeguard their financial futures.”

Delving deeper into the heart of the problem

For the last two decades, the rise in cardiovascular diseases has been flagged. Dr Morkel says this is clearly linked to lifestyle diseases and was magnified by the extra mortality burden of the pandemic. “We continue to fail to address the key causes of diseases of lifestyle, so, sadly, we’re likely to see cardiovascular incidents exponentially increase in the future. Obesity remains a major challenge in our country, with Type II diabetes linked to this.”

Cardiovascular severe illness claims are on an accelerating trend for men but remained relatively constant for women. The Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa says 1 in 3 males will have a cardiac event before they die; for women, this is 1 in 4. Younger women have marginal protection due to their hormones, which decreases when menopause is reached.

Men also experienced an increasing trend of severe illness claims for cancer; primarily for prostate cancer, which is highly treatable with an early diagnosis, and for melanomas. Dr Morkel urges regular screening for early detection for both.

Focus on Female Clients:

The 2023 claim statistics highlight the specific risk cover needs of women, emphasising the importance of tailored insurance solutions to address their unique challenges and life circumstances. Here are some of the key trends to emerge:
1. Cancer Coverage: Cancer remained a significant cause of severe illness claims among women, with breast cancer being the most prevalent. This underscores the critical need for women to have cancer cover to ensure financial support during treatment and recovery. Colon and cervical cancer are also common cancers in women.
2. An increase in accidents: Interestingly, there was a marked increase in sickness income claims for accidents and injuries from female clients, a significant number of which came from individuals aged 26 to 45. Sanlam will be watching this closely to see if it’s an anomaly or sustained trend.
3. Complications in pregnancy: In 2023, Sanlam paid R5.5 million for C-sections as part of its cover for pregnancy complications under the sickness income benefit. Payment for pregnancy complications under its sickness income benefit have been increasing annually. Globally and in South Africa, C-sections are increasing because pregnancy complications are on the rise, linked primarily to diseases of lifestyle. Dr Morkel says, “Obesity, hypertension and Type II diabetes are starting earlier. These conditions are magnified by pregnancy. We’re also seeing women have first pregnancies later in life, which can bring more complications and cause obstetricians to opt for caesarean sections.”

Risk Incidents Among Younger Clients:

A notable trend in the 2023 claim statistics is the prevalence of claims among younger clients, particularly in the areas of sickness and income protection.
1. 62% of disability claims came from people younger than 55, in their prime working years; for females, this sits higher at 70%. Two-thirds of sickness- and disability income claims came from individuals younger than 45. Additionally, more than half of all severe illness claims (57%) were for clients younger than 55; for women this was 70%.
2. According to Dr Morkel, in young people, the biggest claim events are for cancer, cardiovascular disease, and trauma and injuries.
3. People are living for longer, which means by the time an individual reaches old age, they’re likely to have already experienced 2 to 3 life-changing events. This underscores the need for cover early on.

The question of Covid-19:

Dr Morkel says that claims for Covid-19-linked deaths have come right down, now only impacting individuals that are elderly or immunocompromised. However, there’s been a rise in pneumonias linked to influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). This has caused an increase in hospitalisation claims, which mirrors global trends. “Covid-19 is still here but competing with influenza and RSV. So, we’re seeing the effect of these combined.”

Marx concludes, “Sanlam remains committed to our claims philosophy, ensuring clients have the right cover for their needs and providing financial security across generations. Our focus on innovation and tailored coverage continues to empower clients to navigate life's uncertainties with confidence. As ever, we aspire to be the trusted financial partner that puts our clients first.”

For more information on the Sanlam 2023 claims statistics, click here.

Sanlam Risk & Savings Claims Statistics 2023, click here.

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