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Category Life Insurance

Provider of insurance for HIV positive individuals dramatically changes lives

20 November 2012 AllLife

The first of December marks World AIDS Day and presents an important opportunity to raise awareness and education about HIV and AIDS. HIV is a manageable disease and HIV positive people can live long and fulfilled lives, provided they prudently look after

Since 2004, when AllLife broke the mould of traditional life insurance by formally introducing pure risk cover to HIV positive individuals, this pioneering South African company has changed the lives of thousands of South Africans living with HIV.

Contrary to the well-trodden insurance path of straight-forward death and disability cover, AllLife dared to venture off the beaten track with an innovative approach to life cover, unlocking access to financial products for people living with HIV by offering them affordable life and disability cover. In so doing, this has dramatically changed their lives by keeping them healthy and committed to living longer, more productive lives.

“When AllLife started in 2004, most people thought it couldn’t be done. How could we build a business that would operate profitably in a market no one else would insure? The answer was simple in concept, but complex in implementation. If we could get our clients to manage their health properly, this would dramatically improve their life expectancy, and so allow us to provide affordable life insurance to them,” says AllLife MD, Ross Beerman.

Today, AllLife delivers a complete end-to-end life insurance offering to the South African market. “We design, market, distribute, administer and manage all aspects of our unique life insurance products which allow a discriminated against segment of the population to access ‘normal’ financial services products and, thereby, the ability to participate fully in the economy.”

Beerman says that slamming the door on life insurance for people living with HIV also prevents them from accessing other financial services, most of which are essential for anyone living in today’s world and who wishes to participate in the mainstream economy. “For example, it is virtually impossible to get a mortgage loan, even a small one, as life insurance is commonly required to secure a home loan, even with all other criteria in place.”

Beerman believes the most tragic consequence for HIV positive individuals being excluded from traditional life insurance is that they are prevented from living an otherwise normal life – which they are very capable of doing. Many become utterly despondent, often ending in severe depression.

AllLife has changed all of this dramatically. “Whether or not our clients take antiretrovirals (ARTs) six months after buying insurance, they show around a 15 percent improvement in their CD4+ count (the immune system marker),” Beerman says. This improvement may partly be due to seeing their disease in a different way. They are far more positive about their future insofar as they can freely participate in the economy like any other HIV negative person.

Beerman attributes much of AllLife’s success to adherence monitoring and its message of ongoing assistance and hope. AllLife consultants consistently follow up on clients to ensure that they are taking their medicines and have the necessary blood tests done, on time. “Our message is encouraging and reassuring: ‘You have a chronic, manageable disease. If you manage it appropriately and adhere, you will live a long time. And we are always there to help you.”

To ensure clients stay healthy so that they can live active and healthy lives and participate in the economy, the company’s custom-built Client Relationship Management (CRM) system monitors clients’ adherence to health management protocols.

More than 95% of AllLife’s clients adhere to their HIV treatment regimen, drastically exceeding the success rate of most of the managed health care industry.

According to AllLife Medical Director, Avron Urison, clients who actively monitor the progress of the disease and who responsibly follow the recommended medical treatment, can expect to live healthily for an additional 20-30 years.

What also sets the company apart is the free counselling service to HIV positive people during their insurance application process at other life insurance companies. Several life companies that decline hundreds of clients every month as a result of a positive HIV test, refer these declined clients to AllLife for telephonic post-test counselling. “Historically, declined clients were referred back to their doctors for counselling, which resulted in less than 10% of them actually being informed of their test results and receiving counselling,” says Dr Urison.

Since the introduction of telephonic post-test counselling, more than 75% of declined clients spoken to by AllLife now choose to receive their results and are counselled on how to manage HIV.

As World AIDS Day (1 December) draws closer, AllLife has ample reason to celebrate a mission accomplished. Not only has the company gained international recognition as a trail-blazer in the life insurance industry by setting a unique insurance example, it has also firmly entrenched itself as a viable business model in SA, delivering more than R2bn of affordable life cover to people living with HIV.

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