Local online life insurer Simply Financial Services has seen a significant increase in demand for its life assurance, disability cover and funeral policy products as a result of the CoVID-19 pandemic.
Simply’s CEO, Anthony Miller, says, “There has been a seismic shift on the consumer side of the life insurance equation. The advent of CoVID-19 has caused people to re-evaluate their lives as they sit at home, viewing images from across the world and studying statistics around case numbers and deaths. The new reality is that people now imagine death or disability as a very real possibility and see life cover for themselves and their families as a necessity.”
Simply has experienced strong growth in product uptake. “Since the beginning of March, sales of our individual life insurance products are up around 30 percent,” says Miller. “This is an incredible turnaround in such a short time and, if you add the fact that most South Africans are far more cash-strapped now, the trend is quite remarkable.”
The 2020 pandemic has eerie parallels with the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. In a recent Financial Mail editorial journalist Rob Rose wrote, “During the 1918 flu epidemic, the government dithered and 4.3% of SA died. On 27 October, 1918, the Sunday Times reported that, one month after the Spanish flu arrived, no-one was quite sure why people were dying. Back then, there was no health minister explaining cases or causes, no wall-to-wall TV coverage, no Twitter. Hysteria was the order of the day.”
The difference today is that the population is well-informed and, as a result, people can take precautions where possible.
Miller says, “We are seeing people taking responsibility in the areas that they can control. The majority of low- and middle-income earners are chronically under-insured. Many have funeral or credit life insurance policies but few have life insurance or disability cover. Because of the pandemic that is changing rapidly and South Africans are becoming responsible and allocating scarce resources in productive ways.”
This is not only a South African phenomenon. Numerous reports out of the USA tell the same story. “The demand for life and health insurance policies has seen a huge spurt over the last 20 to 30 days as the number of coronavirus-positive cases started growing. One online distribution portal has seen a 20 percent growth in life assurance sales during this period” is a typical report. *
“At the same time, the ‘no-touch economy’ is firmly here. People don’t want to meet face to face with a broker. They don’t want to go to a clinic, see a nurse or give blood. They want reliable life cover, all online and right now,” Miller adds.“
Simply’s model fits right into this trend. The life insurance products offered in combinations of life, disability and funeral are easy to understand, quick to sign up for and easy on the pocket. Family Cover is available for as little as R89 a month, depending on the level of cover selected.
The entire online process takes less than 10 minutes, requiring a quick fill in of some personal details, three health questions to be answered and, providing you qualify, immediate cover. No blood or medical tests are required.
“We’d like consumers to realise the time for digital insurance has arrived and If everyone is doing it, so should I,” Miller says.
But there is more to this story than just a temporary uptick in demand. Experts predict that, post-COVID, the world will change in many ways, permanently.
Miller agrees: “The world is going to be less face-to-face and more remote, more online, more digital. This is especially so in our industry.
“I can say with confidence to life insurers and brokers: if you’re digital, if you can adapt quickly, and if you can target accurately, the future looks good. Of that I have no doubt,” he concludes.
* Aprajita Sharma, Businesstoday.in