Momentum changes tune: Pays out death benefit to widow

After strong public backlash, insurance provider Momentum announced on Tuesday afternoon that it would pay out the death benefit to Natalie Ganas, the widow of a slain policy holder Nathan Ganas.

This comes after Momentum CEO Johann le Roux previously insisted that the company was right to reject the claim, due to the non-disclosure of a pre-existing health condition by Ganas.

Momentum, in a statement published on Tuesday on its website, said the way in which the news of Natalie Ganas’ claim was received by the public “created the impression” that life insurers were looking for reasons to avoid payout.

Ganas died from gunshot wounds in March 2017 when he was hijacked in his driveway. But the insurance firm initially refused to pay his R2.4-million policy claim after it was discovered that he suffered from high blood sugar levels.

Momentum now says it has created a policy to “pay out an amount equal to the death benefit (limited to a maximum of R3-million) in the case of violent crime, regardless of previous medical history”.

“The guarantee will apply immediately to all our life cover clients, and will be applied retrospectively. We are identifying clients who were impacted in this way and we will contact their families to arrange payment. This includes Mrs Ganas.”

Momentum explained that the payout would not be in addition to normal death benefit payouts, and would only apply in circumstances when the death benefit will not be payable or has been reduced.

Violent crime

“This payout will be fully funded from Momentum’s profits and not from our clients’ premiums. The guarantee will pay out when the death was a direct result of violent crime, even when material medical non-disclosure impacts the legitimacy of the contract.”

Momentum added that the only time a client’s health status matters is when that client applies for the cover.

“This is when you need to share all your medical and health information. If your health deteriorates after commencement of the policy, there is no need for you to inform Momentum – your claim will be completely valid if the information provided at the start of the policy was accurate.”

Momentum said it reserved its right to reject fraudulent claims, and with the “exception of the new guarantee, full disclosure remains non-negotiable to ensure peace of mind”. — Fin 24

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Khulekani Magubane
Khulekani Magubane

Khulekani Magubane is a senior financial reporter for Fin24. 

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