An FSCA Press Release on 15 June 2021 addresses the occurrence of inaccurate reports, particularly on social media platforms, which indicate that getting the Covid-19 vaccine will render life insurance policies “null-and-void” because the vaccines are regarded as “experimental medicine”.
The Regulator is of the view that such unfounded statements have no merit or basis and are causing fear, anxiety, and uncertainty among the public.
“It is the expectation of the FSCA that taking a Covid-19 vaccine will not lead to cancellation of a policy or the repudiation of a claim. Should there be any further concerns or questions related to such statements, it is recommended that policyholders contact their respective life insurers and/or financial advisors/brokers.
The South African Government has issued various communications regarding the vaccines (including highlighting the safety of the vaccines) which are available on the following website: https://www.gov.za/covid-19/vaccine/vaccine
The FSCA also draws attention to the regulations issued in terms of the Disaster Management Act, 2002 clearly outlining that any person who publishes a statement, through any medium including social media, with the intention to deceive any other person about Covid-19, is committing a criminal offence”.
The fact that life insurers saw huge increases in death claims since the outbreak of the pandemic may have provided fertile ground for those who thrive on disinformation. Old Mutual was one of the first out of the blocks by advising clients as follows:
“We are aware of the false information circulating on social media suggesting that insurance companies will automatically decline claims from customers who have received the COVID-19 vaccine. At Old Mutual, we encourage all efforts geared towards stopping the spread of the virus and are committed to paying claims; this is why we will continue to honour all valid claims.
We do not have any automatic exclusions linked to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. We will assess all claims against the terms and conditions in your contract at the time of the claim.
Our commitment to protecting our customers is evident in our 2020 Claims Statistics
Report. We paid R6.5 billion in underwritten claims; and of those claims, there was a 61% increase in respiratory system disorders from the previous year. This did not stop us from being there for our customers when they needed us most.”