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Momentum pays out millions to families of murdered policy holders

May 23 2019 17:09
Sibongile Khumalo

Momentum said on Thursday that it had since paid out millions of rands to families of murdered policy holders whose claims were initially rejected.

This follows the case of a Durban man, Nathan Ganas last year where Momentum initially refused to pay out the R2.4m life policy owed to his wife on the grounds that he failed to disclose a pre-existing condition - elevated blood sugar levels.

Ganas was gunned down in his driveway in 2017 and died from gunshot wounds. The company later recanted and paid out the claim amid widespread public anger, in what the company's Head of Retail Life Insurance, George Kolbe described as a period that "made us relook the way we do business".

Review of Claims

Kolbe said that since the incident, the insurance company had conducted a review of historic claims that had been rejected on similar grounds.

The review went back about 20 years, he said and uncovered five cases - including that of Ganas - which led to a combined pay out of about R7.3m. Momentum paid out R4bn in life insurance claims in 2018.

However, Kolbe insisted that disclosure of existing illnesses when taking out a policy was critical.

"By paying out the claim we did not mean that we changed the rules. Disclosure is key and it remains the most important factor," said Kolbe.

"We have not rewritten the rules, non disclosure is not tolerated in any form, and we hope this would not open up a loophole for non disclosure, as we encourage people to make full health disclosures when taking out a life policy," he said.

Kolbe stated that the Ganas saga prompted "massive outcry from the public" and the company drew critical lessons from the experience.

"If it happens again our promise is that we will pay…we will look at the facts that prove that there was a violent crime," said Kolbe adding that the decision is not a contractual obligation.

Momentum Life CEO, Johann le Roux said, "It is our business to pay claims and [for] our clients [to] achieve their desired financial goals and aspirations, even when the unthinkable happens."

Statistics released by the company on Thursday show that cancer was the leading cause of death, accounting for 45% of critical illness claims, while cardiovascular related illnesses made up 26%. Claims for these categories jumped 20% compared to 2017.

The statistics indicated that 93% of suicide claims were for males, and that cases were more prevalent in smokers than non smokers. The four largest claims that Momentum paid out were:

Death claim: R45m

Critical illness: R6.3m

Disability: R62.4m

Income protection: R2.2m


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