Life insurance companies can fail to pay out if they find a policy holder didn’t disclose or update important personal information, including changes to their health, or failed to make payments.
But sector experts dismissed the idea that any insurance company would refuse to pay out a claim because of the Covid-19 vaccine, going so far as to call it “scaremongering” and illegal.
The South African Financial Sector Conduct Authority released a statement, saying the rumours had “no merit or basis”.
“I hope you are aware that if you get the Covid vaccine, it basically renders your life insurance null and void. Because it is experimental,” reads a Facebook post shared in South Africa over 2,400 times.
The post, written in Afrikaans, appears to be a screenshot of a WhatsApp message that has been forwarded many times. A cropped image of the same claim has been shared 1,700 times on Facebook.
It warns that life insurance will not be paid out even if you die in a car accident and the insurance company finds out you had the vaccine.
“As jy in die versekerings bedryf werk, behoort jy die sommer outomaties te weet,” the post says. This means: “If you work in the insurance industry, you should know this automatically.”
Africa Check investigated this viral message.
What is life insurance?
Life insurance is a contract with an insurance company. In exchange for paying a monthly fee, called a premium, the company will pay a lump sum of money to your beneficiaries after your death.
“This ensures that your loved ones have enough money to give you a respectable funeral and cover other living costs after your death,” says Nedbank, a South African bank and life insurance provider.
Life insurance companies may reject a claim if you have not fully disclosed or updated them about important employment, health, possession or medical information.
A violation of policy terms or getting behind in premium payments could also result in the claim not being paid out.
Financial Sector Conduct Authority denounces claim
Africa Check spoke to life insurance company representatives who said the viral online message was false.
The Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) regulates the market conduct of financial institutions that provide financial products and services. After we contacted them about the Facebook posts they issued a press release stating that the claim has “no merit or basis”.
“It is the expectation of the FSCA that taking a Covid-19 vaccine will not lead to cancellation of a policy or the repudiation of a claim,” it said.
It “recommended that policyholders contact their respective life insurers and/or financial advisors/brokers” if they had any questions or concerns.
The FSCA said the “unfounded statements are causing fear, anxiety, and uncertainty among the public”. They told people to follow the South African government’s advice about the safety of vaccines.
The World Health Organization and the South African government both confirm that Covid-19 vaccines are safe, having undergone rigorous testing and approval by various regulators globally.
Message is ‘anti-vaccine scare-mongering’
Jean-Paul Rudd, partner attorney at South African law firm Adams & Adams’ personal injury and insurance department, told Africa Check that refusing to pay out a claim on this basis would not be legally acceptable.
Anna Rosenberg, senior life and risk policy advisor at the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa, called the post anti-vaccine scare-mongering.
There is no reason for life insurers to make this a clause, she told us. “Life insurers are obviously going to be very happy. The more people who have the vaccine the better.”
Same claim debunked in US and Australia
In May 2021, US fact-checking organisation PolitiFact debunked the same claim shared on Instagram. Their investigation found that the message started circulating on social media in March 2021.
The Australian Associated Press also rated it false. They traced the claim to a fraudulent edited life insurance policy circulating on social media.
Conclusion: Covid-19 vaccine won’t render life insurance policy null and void
A Facebook post shared in South Africa claims that getting the Covid-19 vaccine will render your life insurance policy null and void.
Similar posts have circulated internationally, with fact-checking organisations rating these claims false.
According to a press release issued by FSCA and local insurance experts, getting the Covid-19 vaccine will not make your life insurance policy invalid.
We rate this claim incorrect.
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