Can ICT mediate the Momentum conundrum?
The recent Momentum (By the way MMI is the holding group of Momentum) spate over a claim non-payment has thought-provokingly elevated the conflict between a regulatory framework and a moral human response. The story briefly is that a client, Nathan Ganas took a Life Policy in 2014 for 2.4m. He was tragically killed in 2018 during a hijacking as he took his kids to school. Momentum, as all assurers do, examined his case file and decided to repudiate the claim because he had elevated sugar levels. Even though this was precisely not the cause of Ganas’s death, he according to Momentum failed to disclose his prior ailment. The Ombudsman agreed. Momentum decided to repay the premiums, though not the claim.
South Africans, through Social Media, erupted with a storm and hostility rarely seen in this country. Momentum could have capitulated, paid the widow R2.4m and the matter may well have died.
Momentum, however, to their credit decided to take a step back and examine the challenge in its entirety, and wisely decided to repay all recent policy holders whose claims were repudiated for non-disclosure due but who passed away due to accidental death. The claim is limited to a maximum of R3m, to negate adverse impact on other policy holders. This response is therefore a delicate, contextual, sensitive, carefully thought, actuarially verified solution, that considered the problem set in totality, not just the case at hand.
This case has made every single assured person sit back and re-examine their policies. One does not take a policy to get the premium refunds, one hopes to leave a legacy of funds. Our problem is our memory. Let’s face it trying to remember when your brother had a heart-attack is depressing and it is awkward to find out.
As an assured person, I am concerned of the notion of the assure now, validate your bone fide, when you die or need the pay-out. When you take a policy you are obliged to tell the whole truth about your medical history. Lying, understating or obfuscating the truth may invoke the pain of repudiation of the policy. It is a petty tense engagement. It is as it is. What are the trigger mechanisms that makes one remember the day you started smoking, drinking or taking medication?
Being digital I am challenged to come up with a solution. How can we improve the veracity of information on our policy with regards to the start date of our illness? Or the date we started medication? Or the year your brother had an ailment?
I e-met a school childhood buddy through Social Media and he pinged me on how ,we as students, used to drink at University and laughed at how I struggled to start smoking, which was deemed sexy in those days! I immediately remembered the exact day I started smoking. And it also reminded me of how I struggled to stop smoking. The trigger ultimately to stop was the birth of my son which is an easy sign post. Events trigger actions that make us remember. Unfortunately these events mostly occur during a seemingly random event or meeting.
Thus, if we record as we our memory is triggered, then potentially our recreate a picture of an increasingly accurate knowledge of our heath. Now if we had a little applet running on our most significant other – the ubiquitous smartphone, it may will well facilitate capture of the information least we forget again. Can we store this new self-discovery in some cloud so that at the next meeting with our Certified Financial Advisor we can “update or correct” our policies? I remain one of those ICT folk who is Applet averse. How many applets have you downloaded in the last year? The notion of appifying the world, annoys me. It therefore seems that my idea of an applet is stillborn. How can we make this proposition a little more tangible.
There will be a day when you or your loved one are so ill that you (they) may not be able to communicate for themselves. Worse, you (or they) may even be alone. Think extreme – an ambulance and a comatose patient. Given that we prefer life over death, how does the paramedic and medical team know about the comatose patient and their ailment? We could extend and adapt this app to also store some pertinent medical information in addition to our medical history. This may well help save the patient, in real-time, much like medical bands currently do. Examples here include penicillin allergy band, diabetics and epileptic warnings. Off course we will have to create a specific door (Virtual private Network) to the medical file that will not violate your smartphone data privacy. I wilt rave my privacy in this case for my continued life.
The devil, as always is in the detail and I am happy to help a young develop this! Do you have an interesting challenge that we could explore publicly? Let’s start a conversation?
Author: Dr Surendra Thakur