Legal and regulatory update for the life and health insurance sector

28 Jan 2022 – Privacy Commissioner’s Office latest newsletter released, covering:

  • Privacy Commissioner Annual Report
  • Property rental sector guidance regarding tenants’ personal information
  • High Court 2021 review of Ministry decisions about Māori vaccination data
  • Updated privacy provision in the Incorporated Societies Bill
  • Australian Information Commissioner proposals to strengthen privacy protections
  • Simply Privacy upcoming workshops (While noting the latest newsletter copy is still to be posted on this webpage)

People with Covid-19 jabs have been less likely to die of other causes

The Economist has this report on a very large sample data investigation into all forms of mortality for people who have been jabbed against COVID-19 compared to those who have not. This is unlikely to be a direct effect of the vaccine, it is much more likely to be a consequence of sorting: 

"Large observational studies can give unparalleled insights into the safety and efficacy of vaccines across diverse populations. However, real-world data is never perfectly controlled. It seems all but certain that some still-invisible difference between people who get the vaccine and those who do not, rather than some unknown benefit of the jab, is to thank (or blame) for the vaccine’s correlative effects. Jabs are not immunisations against mortality."


More insurers share views on COVID-19 data and vaccinations, and more daily news

Head of Asteron Life, Grant Hill has announced that Asteron Life and its reinsurers have decided to monitor the long-term effects of COVID-19. Hill noted that they still need more data to ensure they implement effect underwriting processes.  

Similar to Asteron Life, AIA has said that they will monitor the situation, although acting CEO Sharron Botica has noted that new customers are not currently required to disclose whether they have had a vaccination against COVID-19. Botica has said that the underwriting approach will not change without new evidence.

Simon Tohill , General Manager of Strategy and Marketing has said that it is too early to understand the implications of the Government’s decision to transition from the elimination strategy to living with Covid-19.

Chief Insurance Officer Kath Johnson has said that Fidelity Life has decided treat existing unvaccinated and vaccinated customers equally. New customers will not be asked about their vaccination status and financial hardship support will continue to be offered.

“Head of Asteron Life Grant Willis says Asteron and its reinsurers are closely monitoring the medical developments around Covid-19 and its long term impacts.

"At this stage, we need more data to inform any decisions on how we underwrite for it in future.

"Kiwis tend to be under-insured when it comes to life and income protection type covers, and we think it’s important that New Zealanders know that there are still options for them when it comes to personal insurance, even if they have suffered from Covid-19 or other major health issues.

"Covid-19 has created a lot of uncertainty and hardship for many New Zealanders, and we have worked hard to ensure that our customers can keep and feel confident in the insurance they have purchased from Asteron Life."

Willis says Asteron has not applied any blanket exclusions for Covid-19 and have offered a range of support options to help customers keep their insurance cover in place through short-term periods of financial vulnerability.

AIA NZ acting chief executive Sharron Botica says AIA does not ask new customers to disclose their Covid-19 vaccination status as part of its underwriting process.

"We continue to monitor the developing situation, but at this time there is no new information that would cause us to change our current underwriting approach," she says.

General manager of strategy and marketing for Cigna New Zealand, Simon Tohill says it's also too early for them to "...fully assess the impact of the Government’s recent change in strategy from elimination to living with Covid-19.

Fidelity Life's chief insurance officer Kath Johnson says as a customer-led business Fidelity aims to give its customers certainty in an uncertain world.

"We currently have no plans to treat existing unvaccinated customers any differently to vaccinated customers and we don’t currently ask new customers if they are vaccinated.

"We continue to provide financial hardship support to our customers who need it, including as a result of Covid-19.

“In relation to potential underwriting changes in the future, we’ll make any decisions based on facts. Together with our reinsurers, partners and our industry body the Financial Services Council, we’ll keep monitoring medical developments closely, including the long term impacts of Covid-19.” Click here to read more

In other news

From The Spinoff: For many New Zealanders, Covid-19 will be a lifelong disease

FMA: FMA clarifies Wisdom House FAP cancellation decision

Strategi: Training opportunity with Strategi’s AML/CFT expert

Covid-19: modelling risks comparing vaccinated and unvaccinated

The Herald has this article on comparing the relative risks. The key take-out from Dr Watson's research is this:

Unvaccinated people are nine times more likely to seed fresh Covid-19 outbreaks in New Zealand, finds new modelling that's prompted a plea for those who haven't had their shots to think before travelling this summer.

The importance of encouraging people to get vaccinated is underlined again. The full paper is at this link:

Covid-19 vaccines are effective

With billions of people vaccinated around the world we are now getting some robust numbers about vaccine effectiveness - which is very good - the following chart, using US data, shows powerfully that vaccination has reduced death rates from Covid-19 substantially. This from Our World in Data project on Covid-19 data tracking:

The United States has fully vaccinated 58% of its population, mostly with the mRNA vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna. Mortality data by vaccination status is published by the US CDC. This chart presents the COVID-19 death rate among unvaccinated people and among fully-vaccinated people. You can click the “Change age group” button on the top-left to explore data for a specific age group.

For more information about the effectiveness of vaccination please do go and check out the whole article on Covid-19 deaths by vaccination status available at this link (including a nice simple example, suitable for sharing to non-stats people, about the base rate fallacy):

Also, their wider work on covid-19 vaccinations is very helpful and may be a useful resource if you want to share data with vaccine hesitant people that you come across.


My Covid Record: site details and reminder to get vaccinated!

The Ministry of Health has the new My Covid Record site is up in beta. The purpose is to provide a portal to obtain vaccine evidence currently for travel, but later for mass events such as concerts. I managed to set up my account in about ten minutes - it helps if you already have a RealMe login.

It is also an opportunity to provide a reminder that getting vaccinated works to reduce the transmission, serious illness, and death from COVID-19. I'm vaccinated and everyone I know has had at least the first jab, if not both. If you haven't or you know anyone - often young people who have only recently been allowed to go an get the jab - who hasn't got around to it yet, do help to spread the word. The more of us that can get it, that do get it, the easier life will be (including for those few who cannot have the jab due to medical reasons). Link to the site here:

Insurers interested in how digital health records development is going should definitely take note of this. It is likely to be the same or similar registration process.

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