Got the jab? At the time of writing more than seven million South Africans were included in the four billion people worldwide who have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination.
But the vaccine has also come with a lot of fake news – including scare stories about what it means for you and your insurance policies.
What’s the truth? Below we take a look at some myths and facts around the COVID-19 vaccine and how it affects your life and funeral cover policies.
Fact or fiction? Here’s the truth about vaccines and your policy
Myth: Getting the COVID-19 vaccine will result in my life and/or funeral cover being cancelled
This is 100% not true. We’re not sure where this came from, but it seems to have originated from a thought that the vaccine was classified as experimental medicine.
The vaccines administered in South African at official vaccination sites have all been very carefully checked by SAHPRA, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority, which regulates all of our medicines and medical products to ensure they are safe for use. As such, they are approved and not experimental.
Having an approved vaccine in approved doses does not and cannot result in your policy being cancelled. So, your 1Life life cover and/or funeral policy will not be cancelled if you have the COVID-19 vaccine.
Myth: Not getting the COVID-19 vaccine will result in my life and/or funeral cover being cancelled
This is also untrue but is an excellent example of how confusing social media can be. Your 1Life life cover and funeral policies are not dependent on you getting the vaccine.
Myth: My claim on my life and/or funeral cover policy won’t be paid if I die of COVID-19 vaccine complications
If you have life and/or funeral cover for death due to natural causes, you are covered for death due to COVID-19 and any complications as a result of the vaccine. In the extremely rare cases where a person has passed on because of a suspected side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine, such as a blood clot, this would be classified as a death due to natural causes.
Myth: I won’t be able to take out life and/or funeral insurance if I have not been vaccinated against COVID-19
This is also untrue. Having a vaccine has never been a prerequisite for a life or funeral cover policy. However, insurance companies may decide to load (increase) your premiums with additional risk rates if you do not get vaccinated.
If all these myths are untrue, how does COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccine affect my existing 1Life policies?
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, and death from COVID-19 or COVID-19 complications, or complications for a COVID-19 vaccine are classified as death due to natural causes.
- If your policy covers you for death due to natural causes, you are covered, and a valid claim will be paid.
- If your policy covers you for accidental death only, you may not be covered for death due to COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccination complications or other natural causes such as a heart attack. Accidental death covers you for death due to accidents such as a car accident. You can check on your policy schedule or on our online policyholder portal if you are unsure.
- Waiting periods may apply. 1Life funeral policies have a six-month waiting period before members are covered for death due to natural causes. If you take out a funeral policy in April, suffer COVID-19 vaccine complications in May and pass on, your claim may not be paid as it is for an event that happened in the waiting period. But this applies to other natural causes such as a heart attack as well. You can check on your policy document for any waiting periods that may apply to your policy. Waiting periods are cumulative. What this means is that where one funeral policy is immediately replaced with another, the waiting period applies across both policies. So, if you took out a policy from one insurer and paid those premiums for two months, and then replaced that policy from another insurer and paid premiums for four months, your waiting period would be complete after four months because you have had an active funeral policy for six months.
Applying for a new policy?
COVID-19 can cause long-term effects such as lung problems. So, if you do apply for a policy, you must disclose that you have or have had the illness, including any complications and time spent in hospital. If you have current complications from COVID-19, 1Life may defer your policy to wait until you recover.
In rare cases, there may be an allergic reaction to the vaccine. If you have experienced this, you should also disclose it on your application.
Every day, tens of thousands of South Africans are lining up to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine has been thoroughly tested and those tests checked not only for safety, but also to make sure the vaccines work. They do. According to the World Health Organization, vaccines are safe and effective and prevent people from getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19.
A quick word on the LifeQ COVID-19 screening app
This app is available to 1Life Pulse life cover policyholders. It is used in conjunction with the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 and the VeoSens Health Management app and uses a combination of physiological monitoring and user feedback to provide you with an early indication of changes in your health. This means you can make informed decisions and get tested for the virus, as well as choose to self-isolate to protect your loved ones and colleagues. This app is a health monitoring tool, and the information and data on this app is private and is not shared with 1Life. If you do choose to share this information, you won’t be penalised on your policy based on the information and data shared.
How do you tell a myth from a fact?
- Check the source of the information. Reliable sources for information about COVID-19 and the vaccine include WHO, NICD and South Africa’s coronavirus portal.
- Check with your insurer. Your insurer has to tell you if there is any material change to your policy so changes to life insurance and funeral policies will be communicated by your insurer, not via social media.
- The Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) issues warnings against fake news relating to financial products
- Contradictory messages. One day the story was doing the rounds that your policy would be cancelled if you didn’t get the vaccine, the next day that you couldn’t get a policy without the vaccine! When stories contradict themselves so much, they are usually myths.
- Stories that defy logic. Sometimes a story is so illogical and impossible it cannot be true. Think practically how the story would play out in real life – would all insurers know who has and hasn’t got the vaccine? And would they immediately cancel these policies (which is illegal) without informing policyholders? And how would this look for the business of the insurer? The impossible happens far less frequently than we realise!
The vaccine doesn’t affect your cover!
At 1Life, we have seen the devastation COVID-19 can cause. We worked hard to pay all valid claims when our policyholders sadly passed on after contracting the illness. This is why we are in business, to give financial peace of mind to grieving families and pay for funeral services, memorials and other expenses. We are not in the business of cancelling policies on a whim, or on a myth.