Liberty’s Covid death claims spiked dramatically last year, fuelled by Beta and Delta

Business Insider SA
Liberty claims stats 2021. (Source: Liberty)
Liberty claims stats 2021. (Source: Liberty)
  • A leading life insurance group saw a massive rise in Covid-related death claims last year.
  • Liberty paid out five times more than it did in 2020, increasing by almost R3 billion.
  • As much as R3.5 billion was paid out to Covid-19 related claims
  • For more stories, go to

One of South Africa’s leading life insurers paid out more than five times more for death claims related to Covid fatalities in 2021, its new set of data has revealed.

For Covid-19 related claims, the financial services group, Liberty, paid out R2.9 billion more in 2021 than the previous year, its latest claims statistics show.

Much of the claims resulted from the second and third waves of Covid infections. South Africa was ravaged by a brutal second wave of infections at the tail end of 2020, and it was dominated primarily by the Beta variant of the virus. The claims resulting from these deaths spilled over to the 2021 year, said Kedibone Chuene, Liberty’s chief specialist for product marketing in the lifestyle protector individual client claims unit.

The Delta variant, which caused another spike in deaths in the middle of 2021, also contributed to Liberty’s increase in death claim payouts.

Covid-19 claims contributed the most to all claims, accounting for 21,2%, the company’s report shows. It paid out almost R3.5 billion for Covid claims, and more than 61% of the claims were related to life cover for mortality events, Liberty said.

Liberty claims stats 2021. (Source: Liberty)

The third wave in 2021 came as a huge blow to the life insurance industry and the country, Tumi Mothoagae, Head of Claims at Liberty, said.

“In 2021… the death rate that we experienced in those three months, from June to August, was obviously unprecedented… From a death claims perspective, we had no clue what would happen… based on the first and second waves; we would never have anticipated what happened with the third wave,” Mothoagae said.

Overall, Liberty paid out R10.12 billion for all claims to 43,600 individual clients and beneficiaries. This translated to a 60% jump from 2020 when the company paid R6.43 billion in claims.

Cancer-related deaths had the second-highest number of claim volumes and accounted for 20.7% of all claims.

Prostate cancer emerged as the most common type of cancer and made up 29% of all cancers that affected the company’s male clients. More than 13% of the clients suffered from colon and rectal cancer.

In contrast, 38% of females were affected by breast cancer, and more than 10% were diagnosed with skin cancer.

“Cancer and many heart conditions can in part be understood as lifestyle-related conditions, and this reflects on the health challenges faced by many South Africans,” said Dr Dominque Stott, Liberty’s chief medical officer. 

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