For many people, the fracas over Momentum initially refusing to pay out a life policy for a man who was brutally murdered, on the grounds that he had undisclosed high blood sugar, will fuel their worst prejudices about insurance companies. Depressingly, it also reveals a tin ear in some of SA’s largest firms for prevailing public sentiment towards many consumer-facing firms, and scepticism over the legitimacy of big business. A favourite trick of insurers is known as "underwriting at claims stage". Only once a death or disability claim has been lodged does the insurer launch a full investigation into the client’s medical history, and it can then repudiate the claim. Had it done routine tests in 2014, Momentum Life would never have given the hijack victim, Nathan Ganas, a policy. And it surely should have drawn blood for a R2.4m policy — a material amount of money. Had it done so, it would have easily seen the high blood sugar, an indicator of the onset of diabetes. But what has rank...

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