Many South Africans did not think getting disability coverage was necessary for them, either due to financial reasons or simply because they believed they would not need it, according to Insurtech start-up YuLife.
Yule said should an accident occur, depending on the severity of the disability, research showed that some individuals were unlikely to still be employable.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), one in six people worldwide has a disability. This number was estimated to be much higher in South Africa. According to the organisation, people with disabilities were more likely to live in poverty, have lower levels of education, and be unemployed.
Despite this, there have been some positive strides made to create awareness of disabilities, such as disabled fashion designer Laura Wagner-Meyer’s decision to enter Miss SA 2023. Recently, South Africa and India also signed a memorandum to cooperate on developments in the disability sector, break down the persistent stigma surrounding disability, and address the continued lack of resources to light all the work there still is to be done.
November marks disability month, and YuLife said disabilities were more prominent than ever as an estimated 7.5 million South Africans had a disability, and according to a study published in 2018, around 3.5% of the population experience severe functional limitations, while 12.2% have a moderate disability.
The company said the average age of a person with a disability in South Africa was 47 years. The report also stated that the impact of disability is wide, with around 28% of households having a member with a moderate disability, while 9.5% of households include someone with a severe functional limitation.
YuLife South Africa CEO and managing director Jaco Oosthuizen said disability insurance could play a vital role in meeting the gap between society’s ambition to help build equity for those with disabilities, and the reality.
“Group Disability Insurance provides employees with financial security, access to supportive services, and peace of mind for them and their families. It also gives organisations a competitive advantage in terms of attracting and retaining the best talent. While the market for Disability Insurance is highly competitive, it has also become stale with most insurance companies stuck in their ways - resistant to change with limited innovation to improve their service.”
Meanwhile, the findings of the 2022 Life and Disability Insurance Gap Study released by the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa (Asisa) in November last year found that the average South African income earner had a life insurance shortfall of at least R1 million and a disability cover gap of around R1.4 million at the end of December 2021.
The study showed that South Africa’s 14.3 million income earners had only enough life and disability insurance to cover 45% of the total insurance needs of their households. It said the average South African household supported by at least one income earner would, therefore, be forced to cut living expenses should the earner die or become disabled and had no other source of income could be found.