THE major players in Jamaica’s life insurance industry say they stand prepared to deal with any large volume of claims due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are confident that the financial structures of their companies will not be undermined.
So far, Jamaica has had seven COVID-19-related deaths, and should the community transmission of the highly contagious virus sweep across the island, more deaths may occur. That could mean an increase in claims from families of insured individuals.
Globally, insurance companies have been reallocating funds, adjusting their offerings and, in instances, waiving fees as they grapple with the impact of the seemingly unstoppable virus.
On Friday, Businesswire reported that insurers in a number of countries have already started taking the necessary action for protecting their businesses, leaving many consumers in the lurch as they are now finding out that most insurance policies do not cover pandemics.
Additionally, the threat of a recession, as well as a growing number of insolvencies have placed the insurance industry under severe pressure.
Earlier this month Fitch Ratings agency, in an analysis of the impact that the coronavirus will have on the insurance industry, noted that there will be increased health insurance claims to cover hospitalisations for people who are infected by COVID- 19, or life insurance claims for death.
In Jamaica, the largest provider of life insurance — Sagicor Life — says though its stress tests have considered potential increase in payouts and increases in lapses, among other possibilities, the company maintains a capital ratio that exceeds the required regulatory ratio. As such, it is confident of its capital strength and liquidity.
Executive vice-president, individual life at Sagicor Life Mark Chisholm went on to say that the company has been proactive with keeping the communication consistent with clients and has been reaching out to them, providing them with regular and relevant information.
In addition, the insurance giant said its field force team of financial/ insurance advisors are keeping especially close to their clients during this challenging time, offering them support through sound financial guidance and advice.
“An important process for us at Sagicor Life is also to reasses the risk profile of our clients to determine the best solution for them regarding their life insurance portfolio,” Chisholm said.
In relation to claims that may increase in light of COVID-19, Dr Damian Ffriend, senior manager of sales at JN Life Insurance Company, said “JN Life plans to honour all legitimate death claims.
As a life company and member of the JN Group we support our clients and their families throughout their life experiences.”
Similarly, Guardian Life Limited (GLL) has assured its customers that the various health plans it offers cover the treatments for COVID-19 and its related illnesses.
“This includes diagnostic examinations [lab/blood testing and radiologic/ X-rays] and treatment, including medication, nebulisation, and hospitalisation within the permits of the member’s health insurance plan benefits,” Annette Atkinson, senior manager, corporate affairs and communications told the Jamaica Observer.
She pointed out that Guardian Life is consistently analysing the risks it undertakes and as such is able to honour legitimate claims.
“We are prepared financially and operationally to honour the eligible claims for our insured — whether from the members or health care providers. We are a customer-centric company, so necessary adjustments will be made to ensure timely payments if we observe a considerable increase in the volume of claims related to COVID- 19,” Atkinson said.
“Guardian Life has been, and will continue to honour all obligations under the terms and conditions of the individual life contracts of our policyholders, and if it worsens during this period, it will be no different. In light of this, the company has implemented the relevant processes and resources to facilitate the processing of claims [living benefits and death claims] upon fulfilment of all the requirements by the beneficiaries to facilitate a decision on the claim,” Atkinson said.
She added: “Up to the end of the first quarter we did not see an increase in payouts. GLL has adequate liquidity to deal with any policyholder claims that may arise. Guardian Life’s financial and solvency positions are very strong and we continue to do new business. This is an opportune time for employers who can make consideration for their employees without health, life, and pension benefits to consider this, and for individuals to do the same.”
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive