By Momentum Metropolitan Life Limited
With the arrival of Covid-19, the awareness around illness and death has increased, and reports from insurers highlight a growing demand for funeral and life cover solutions.
While historically viewed as a grudge purchase — and despite the toll that the pandemic and lockdown have taken on South Africans’ wallets — consumers are waking up to the importance of being covered for every eventuality.
Parallel to the impact of the pandemic — or perhaps, heightened by it — is also an increasing emphasis on building generational wealth. Sufficient cover is no longer considered a ‘nice-to-have’, but rather a basic need.
However, hand-in-hand with this consumer awakening comes a growing demand on insurers to come to the party in terms of how their live cover products have traditionally been structured, says Abulela Gazi: Head of Client & Business Solutions at financial services provider Metropolitan, “The circumstances of consumers have undergone a radical and rapid shift, and for many South Africans, their income security has taken a knock.
“This, coupled with consumers’ desire to provide a solid legacy for their families has led us to demonstrate that we understand the value in the power of the collective – even in the manner in which we design solutions.”
Gazi believes that the design of insurance solutions needed to undergo an evolution, to accommodate this new context. Agility, affordability and personalisation are the order of the day; benefits need to deliver maximum value to a pressurised consumer; while the service experience should be transparent, smooth and seamless. “Solutions need to diversify and be led by real-time consumer needs,” he adds.
In response to this changing landscape, Metropolitan has launched its new Metropolitan Life Cover Plan. Gazi explains that although a dignified funeral is important in the South African market, it is equally important to people to create a legacy for the future.
“The level of flexibility and customisation that Metropolitan’s Life Cover Plan offers bridges the gap between funeral and life cover, with the plan complementing existing funeral cover, depending on the benefits selected.
The benefits of Metropolitan’s Life Cover Plan are certainly comprehensive – free accident cover, terminal illness and immediate needs cover are standard for this product, while disability cover, value protection, survival, retirement waiver and cashback benefits are optional, and clients can add these according to their needs.
Metropolitan Life Cover Plan is also customisable, allowing clients to select between whole or term cover and receive this cover in as little as five minutes – no medical required. “An increased focus on affordability and flexibility means that clients are able to select a payment pattern that suits them, and can enjoy comprehensive financial protection from as little as R4 per day.”
For many years, Metropolitan has offered level premium patterns with no future increases, while the products of other insurers generally include annual premium increases, which become very unaffordable over a client’s lifetime. To allow for more affordable premiums at the start, Metropolitan has now introduced an increasing payment pattern, should the client select this option.
However, these increases never go beyond the age of 60, so that clients are treated fairly and can maintain their cover when they need it most. Clients and intermediaries can also be assured by Metropolitan’s stellar track record in paying out client claims – with an average 24-hour payout period on approved claims.
Gazi believes that it is of utmost importance that access to cover be made as easy as possible. “Due to the industry-wide underwriting requirement, the application process for life cover products has traditionally been onerous, with extensive paperwork and medicals needed. In a time of crisis, speed and simplicity is key. We, as insurers and intermediaries, have a responsibility to alleviate our clients’ stress, not add to it. “
Gazi highlights that in the past, the misspending of lump sum payouts has been identified as an issue, which the financial services provider found prudent to address.
“We offer our clients access to financial planning as part of their cover; not only to help them make provision for when they are gone, but also to assist beneficiaries in making informed and sound decisions when their lump sums are paid out.”
The pandemic has catalysed a reinvigoration of the insurance industry, and brought with it a much-needed re-imagination in how solutions have traditionally been designed.
“The silver lining is that this has allowed us the opportunity to partner together with our clients to better understand their needs, and deliver more value through personalising our solutions according to these needs,” concludes Gazi.
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Momentum Investments is part of Momentum Metropolitan Life Limited, an authorised financial services (FSP6406) and registered credit (NCRCP173) provider.