Discovery Life reported that in 2019, ASISA (The Association for Savings and Investment South Africa) conducted a gap study which found women have an insurance gap of nearly R15 trillion.
An analysis of Discovery Life’s 2021 claims data shows while women hold 47% of all life policies, the value of their cover is much lower than that of men.
According to the insurance service provider, Covid-19 was the leading cause of claims for women in 2021, followed closely by cancer.
Statistics South Africa confirmed that 38% of South African households are singlehandedly headed by women – many of whom do not have the correct financial products to protect their income.
Kashmeera Kanji, Discovery Life’s Head of Market Analytics and R&D says: “Whether women have a role as a homemaker or an active earner in a household, they contribute directly to the financial well-being of their dependents and a life-changing event affecting them could cause significant strain on the household finances.”
She said in 2021, Discovery Life paid 3 523 claims to its female clients for life-changing events, including R628 million worth of cancer claims.
Cancer accounted for 20% of all death claims, 27% of all disability claims, and 50% of all severe illness claims for women.
“Sadly, the most prevalent cancers – breast and ovarian cancer – have a high rate of relapse too, so we have designed a Severe Illness Benefit to protect our clients specifically against the trending risks of cancer incidence and relapse rates.
“We cover our clients comprehensively for cancer and we are incredibly proud that this benefit is now chosen by so many women with more than half (57%) of our female clients having added our Severe Illness Cover to their policies,” says Kanji. This is a step in the right direction in terms of closing that insurance gap.
South African women face unique risks that compound the financial impact of a life-changing health event.
Several factors contribute to this.
The World Economic Forum finds that South African women face higher unemployment rates than men despite there being more women graduates than men.
Women are also more likely to commit to non-income generating tasks in a household, meaning that they spend less time in the workforce.
South African women, on average, also live nearly six years longer than South African men, meaning they are likely to spend six more years in retirement.
“Collectively, this underlines the importance of women protecting their ability to earn an income, because it creates the resilience needed to tide these gaps,” says Kanji.