David Munro. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
David Munro. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

A tug-of-war is brewing between two of the country’s largest insurers, Liberty and Discovery, over accusations that Liberty has infringed Vitality's copyrights, while the Standard Bank-owned insurer says it is just a ploy to limit competition.

Liberty CEO David Munro said during the presentation of the insurer’s results on Thursday that Discovery has taken it to court over Liberty’s recently launched wellness bonus benefit, saying it has infringed its Vitality trademark and alleged that it has launched unlawful competition.

Liberty introduced a wellness bonus for customers to add on to their lifestyle protector risk products in May. Clients get a cash-back benefit after five years. But the insurer did not create a wellness programme of its own. Instead, it would use the wellness status from whatever programme their clients were on to reward them.

“We did see the action by the competitor as an attempt to limit competition in our market. Secondly, and perhaps more profoundy, we believe that client data belongs to the client,” said Munro, promising that Liberty will vigorously defend this matter because the data in question does not belong to the company running the wellness programme.

Munro said Liberty constructed its wellness bonus benefit the way it did because in its research, clients had indicated that they did not want to be boxed into another rewards programme. Instead, they wanted the insurer to reward them based on their available health information.