Death claims in South Africa declining – but still above pre-COVID levels

South Africa’s five largest life insurers have seen recent death claims against fully underwritten life policies starting to return to pre-pandemic levels.

This is based on the Death Claims Dashboard, maintained by the Continuous Statistical Investigation (CSI) Committee of the Actuarial Society of South Africa (ASSA).

The dashboard showed that 617 death claims were received in August 2022 – the lowest since April 2020, when 540 death claims were submitted.

Anja Kuys, chair of the ASSA CSI committee, said claims expected for fully underwritten new generation life policies would be between 600 and 700 a month in pre-pandemic years.

The number of monthly death claims received by the five life insurers started increasing rapidly in June 2020, peaking above 2,700 per month in January 2021 and again in July 2021.

The dashboard indicates that of the 31,520 death claims received by the five insurers between March 2020 and August 2022, 4,706 were due to COVID deaths.

Death claims for policyholders who died due to COVID started dropping to single-digit numbers from March this year, reaching zero for the first time in August.

However, the actual number of COVID-19 deaths was much higher, as claim forms generally do not specify COVID-19 as the cause of death.

“What is clear, however, is that COVID-19 is no longer claiming as many lives as it did in 2020 and 2021,” Kuys said.

Death claims by gender between 1 March 2020 and 31 August 2022

The dashboard showed that the death claims rate for males and females increased by the same percentage.

It is in line with the expectation that the death claims rate for male policyholders will be almost double that of female policyholders.

GenderNumber of policiesTotal death claimsExpected number of claims

Death claims by age between 1 March 2020 and 31 August 2022

The impact of COVID-19 has been surprisingly similar across all age groups, with the number of claims almost doubling for younger and older people.

Age bandNumber of policiesTotal death claimsExpected number of claims
20 to 2995,000225200
30 to 39502,0001,7221,000
40 to 49621,0004,4132,400
50 to 59500,0007,6514,400
60 to 69271,0008,9115,300