On the 31st of December 2019, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) China office was alerted to the fact that a previously unknown virus was behind several new pneumonia cases. Initially, nobody pushed the panic button, but less than 100 days on and the disease, originally tagged coronavirus but now called COVID-19, has infected 859 395 people around the world.
At the time of writing this blog post, we’ve had 1353 (and 5 fatalities) confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa, with our Health Department working around the clock to keep the infected quarantined and all of us at home.
We know as much as you do, but at Stangen we have policyholders who are at the core of everything we do. With that in mind, we’ve decided to provide you with everything we know and touch on the fact that while you have a policy with us, you are covered.
What is coronavirus?
Coronavirus is part of a large group of viruses most common amongst animals (called Zoonotic diseases by scientists). These Zoonotic diseases are infectious diseases caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites transmitted from animals to humans. In the recorded cases of coronavirus, people are known to have symptoms of a common cold, but which can escalate to something more serious, depending on the age and immune system strength of the individual.
How does the virus spread and what are the symptoms?
The coronavirus is spread primarily via contact with infected individuals through respiratory droplets generated when the person coughs or sneezes, or through exposure to saliva or discharges from the nose. The incubation period of the virus is said to be around 14 days, before the development of symptoms. Symptoms of the virus include:
- upper respiratory tract illness (such as tonsillitis, laryngitis and similar illnesses)
- runny nose
- coughing or sore throat
- headache and fever
The symptoms are very similar to that of the common cold, and these symptoms typically last for several days. Other indications of infection are a raise in temperature, dry coughing, difficulty breathing and aching muscles.
What we want you to know as policyholders?
We want our policyholders to understand the products that they have in place with us. Policyholders can rest assured that risks such as the coronavirus outbreak are catered for by some of the products that we offer.
Which Stangen products cover coronavirus?
There are three main products that Stangen offers which will cover any coronavirus-related claim event.
- Life Cover
- Funeral Cover
- Salary Protection Cover
All our customers with existing Life Cover or Funeral Cover policies with Stangen will be covered should an insured event (death)occur as a result of the coronavirus. That said, we also want you to know that researchers estimate that there is a mortality rate of around nine out of 1000 coronavirus cases resulting in death, and these are even fewer in younger people who have healthy immune systems.
With regards to the Income (Salary) Protection product, the cover will only start once the deferred and waiting periods have been served. This product is focused on insuring a client’s inability to perform a job for a period of longer than three months.
What is the role of Stangen?
The role of any insurer is to manage risk. The coronavirus is something we cannot ignore. We have already made updates to our application process to identify potential coronavirus risks accurately. We urge all people applying for insurance with us to do so truthfully. If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, you must mention it in your application.
What about Critical Illness & Disability Cover?
With Disability Cover, our policyholders are covered for total and permanent disability, which is highly unlikely to occur as a result of the coronavirus. With Critical Illness Cover, our policyholders are covered for four main types of critical illnesses, being open heart surgery, heart attacks, strokes and cancer. Coronavirus is not covered under this product offering.
Here are some practical measures you can take
- Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly (20 seconds or longer)
- Always cover your cough, preferably cough into a tissue and dispose of in a bin that can close
- Avoid (as much as possible) coming into contact with people who are sick and avoid sharing personal items such as food, utensils and cups
- Avoid touching your eyes, ears and nose
- Seek medical advice if you are sick if you have a fever or cough and have difficulty breathing
Practical measures your employer can take
Employers are being tested regarding how they respond to the many practical challenges posed by the coronavirus. South Africans are incredibly resilient individuals who band together in times of struggle. Here are some measures you as the employer can take to make sure your employees are kept as safe as possible from the virus:
- compile policies for self-quarantine, absenteeism, sick leave and working from home
- educate your staff on how to protect themselves and others
- ensure proper ventilation on your premises
- ensure cleaners clean more often and use antiseptic products
- Instruct employees who are feeling ill to remain at home if possible
- Stop shaking hands as a form of greeting
- Limit staff domestic and international travel where possible and avoid large gatherings (ie., conferences)
- Work from home where possible
- Ensure that you communicate clearly and work collaboratively with your employees
- Be patient and understanding
Until then, the best we can do is apply some practical measures to keep ourselves safe.
Until next time.
The Wise About Life Team