What The Financial Experts Own – Liberty Nobula
What type of disability insurance do you own?
My company is a consultancy serving insurers, employers, and intermediaries such as agents and brokers – I do not offer insurance.
What factors did you consider when determining the coverage amount?
I do not offer insurance but the South African market determines coverage amount using local context mortality tables, annual income (often 3 to 4 times annual income for Occupational Disability Cover), age, medical and financial underwriting and claims experience history. Take note, Critical Illness cover is not tied to work and income in South Africa’s context.
Do you think people underestimate the importance of disability insurance and if so, why?
People underestimate the importance of disability insurance and especially in Africa. The reasons are extensive and I could literary write a long discourse on this but I will summarise as follows:
- Societal obliviousness
- Poor financial literacy – People generally underestimate the risk of disability and mostly insure their physical possessions such as cars, property, and equipment but hardly insure what is probably their most valuable asset — their ability to work and earn income. We have an ongoing community educational campaign wherein we educate local people that ‘Insure yourself before you insure a thing as your biggest asset is you and your ability to earn an income; not a material object’.
- Financial constraints
- Dependence on state disability cover and social security safety net
- Bad faith in the disability insurance market
- Market apathy
What are some limitations or exclusions people should watch for?
The foremost limitations and exclusions should watch out for include ‘invisible’ disabilities that cannot be objectively verified by clinical investigative criteria such as whiplash injuries and psychological disorders. The HIV/AIDS high prevalence in Africa has compelled insurers to accept pre-existing risk from opportunistic infections but the premiums are weighted and typical clinical conditions arising from immunocompromise are excluded.
If you had to choose between Critical Illness and Disability Insurance which one would you choose and why?
It would be a tough choice to make as each product has its unique coverage but I would be inclined to choose Critical Illness cover over PHI because it is versatile, extensive in coverage and it is not tied to work/employment. Critical Illness cover is only now getting popular in Europe and in the USA but it was started in South Africa in 1983 by Dr. Marius Barnard, a local cardiac surgeon. Workplace Health and Labour Consultants is a resourceful company that draws from this rich South African corporate health and disability insurance legacy. We have access to a professional team of associate and affiliated medical specialists, general practitioners, phlebotomists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, pharmacologists, occupational health practitioners and labour law attorneys who work in an interdisciplinary approach in the corporate health and disability insurance landscape.
Liberty Nobula’s disability insurance product and policy knowledge, problem-solving expertise and coverage analysis skills were gained through more than 10 years in the Disability Insurance business as an Occupational Therapist, Disability Insurance Claims Adjuster and sought-after Consultant and speaker in Southern Africa across three countries i.e. South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana. He has taught professional continuing education classes in Disability and Life insurance under his consultancy, WHL Consultants, incorporated in both South Africa and Botswana. He has advised individuals and commercial enterprises on their insurance needs and consulted with insurers and re-insurers across the region to optimise their operations and improve their bottom-line. He has written and continues to write periodic contributions and articles on Disability Insurance and Health Risk Management under his Linkedin portal.
Here is the link to his website: www.whlconsultants.com
The local Disability Insurance is quite small and people prioritise short term insurance over life / disability insurance. Approximately 75% of the market being group disability insurance is paid for by employers in the form of group cover. The products are more suited to the group life market and three insurers out of about a dozen collectively have approximately 50% of the market share. The African disability and life insurance space is indeed a virgin market!
The most popular product in the group life market is PHI and the most product in the individual market is Critical Illness cover / Dread Disease cover which was ‘invented’ in South Africa.
Most of my work involves consultancy in strategy of disability insurers, training insurers on disability insurers principles and processes and improving operations; training claim assessors on technical reasoning, medical reasoning and non-medical reasoning and advising insurers on strategies to mitigate corporate risk from fraud which is quite big here, making up 20% of lodged claims!
I started out alone on a limited budget using my life savings and my team and I continue to press on despite typical African business environment challenge. The integrated level of engagement we advocate for in the wellness space in unprecedented and embodies renaissance. To my knowledge, we are the only SMME in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana that offers the Health Risk Management, claims assessment and process optimisation and the rest are large corporates. Despite having a small financial muscle, we are at the forefront of integrated approaches towards wellness, ill-health incapacity strategic management and disablement in the workplace as well as the associated labour law and disability insurance dynamics.