SA leads in HIV life insurance, writes Isaac Moledi

Isaac Moledi

Isaac Moledi

Sanlam have announced a comprehensive personal cover for people living with HIV - positioning the country as the world leader with innovative HIV-life cover.

Known as Sanlam LifePower, the policy has three types of cover:

l Term life cover provides cover for 10 or 20 years. It is appropriate for people who want to provide cover for dependants during an important, but finite period of their lives;

l Whole life cover provides cover for an unlimited period, or until the policy holder decides to cancel the policy. Cover is provided on a level-premium, or on an escalating-premium basis.

The escalating option is cheaper at inception, but premiums increase at 5percent a year;

l Loan Protector Life provides cover designed to match the outstanding balance on an amortised loan, for example, a bond that is paid off in regular and equal monthly instalments.

Cover is provided for either a 10-year or 20-year loan term, with level premiums throughout the term. The cover amount decreases at the expected rate of repayment of the loan and does not make allowance for re-advances.

Disability benefits are provided at 75percent of the death benefit value when linked to a term life or whole life solution.

When linked to a loan protector solution, the disability benefit is 100percent of the (declining) death benefit value. There is an acceleration of the death benefit, which means that once a permanent disability claim has been paid, the death benefit will also come to an end.

The policy includes a premium waiver during the waiting period in the event of a disability claim. The benefit is limited to 12 payments.

AllLife, the only smaller life company that pioneered more affordable HIV life cover with AltRisk, has been given the responsibility of administering the Sanlam LifePower.

Petrie Marx, Sanlam's product actuary, says the LifePower range is ideal for people living with the virus who want to provide for their dependants in the event of death or disability.

Marx says all solutions have adherence requirements, but are available only to people on Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) or who will do so at the appropriate time.

"The commitment is not just a promise. We will regularly monitor whether people are following treatment guidelines, and will assist them if they have problems following the guidelines, Marx says.

He says adherence means going for regular HIV-monitoring blood tests, starting ART at the right time, remaining on ART and taking them regularly and on time.

The policy has been reviewed by the South African HIV Clinicians Society and is in accordance with the Health Department's treatment programme.

AllLife will monitor adherence on behalf of Sanlam through access to blood results and will communicate regularly with clients about their adhere- nce status.

All the LifePower solutions provide cover in the event of the insured's death, regardless of the cause. There is no waiting period and cover kicks in immediately on inception. You can also add permanent disability cover as an optional additional benefit on LifePower policies.

Gerhard Joubert, chief executive of Life Offices' Association, says that the initiative is good news for people living with HIV.

He says it would enable local life insurers to introduce more affordable and comprehensive life and disability cover for people living with HIV.

South Africa and the Netherlands are the only two countries worldwide where HIV patients have access to life insurance.

Joubert says the products are expensive due to a lack of reliable data relating to the HIV-Aids survival rate and the way people respond to treatment.

South Africans have access to old products which were deve- loped before treatment options were available and new products which are much more affordable and flexible, but require policyholders to be on ART.