With the recent surge of COVID-19 cases across the globe, vaccination efforts have increased in order to flatten the curve. Reception of the vaccine has also increased in Malaysia as seen in the recent voluntary registration for AstraZeneca vaccination late May 2021. However, this wasn’t always the case.
In January, before the immunisation began, Malaysian insurers had yet to decide whether to extend medical coverage to the treatment of complications arising from COVID-19 vaccinations. Whereas in Singapore, the seven insurers offering Integrated Shield Plans announced that they are covering possible COVID-19 vaccine complications effective January 2021.
By the beginning of the vaccination programme a couple of months in, however, several insurance companies in Malaysia started extending coverage for such possible complications, with some offering it for free to existing clients.
1. Malaysians’ Reactions to COVID-19 Vaccination Side Effects Coverage
A majority of life insurance companies in Malaysia are extending financial assistance to their policyholders who may suffer from severe side effects or complications resulting in hospitalisation from COVID-19 vaccinations.
The Life Insurance Association of Malaysia (LIAM) said the coverage includes hospitalisation costs that were medically necessary and reasonable due to side effects from COVID-19 vaccination under the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme.
With all this new information, naturally, the public has strong opinions. Through social listening, iWISERS picked up chatters on insurance coverage and policies that have created a buzz on social platforms.
Of the chatters, 48.4% said that the policies are unclear. The public has expressed concern about multiple factors including eligibility of insurance coverage for recently recovered patients of COVID-19. There were also questions regarding new policyholders who are discovered to be positive with COVID-19 but were asymptomatic during application. Uncertainties surround both the eligibility and disqualification criteria, particularly if their insurance will be voided.
Another shared concern among this group is the fact that people who have had close contact with cases but are not positive with COVID-19 are eligible to apply for insurance, subject to approval. But if their case returns positive, they can only apply for insurance six months after recovering from COVID-19.
On the other hand, 30.5% are unsure if their insurance provider covers COVID-19 vaccination side effects. As the side effects of vaccination may vary from mild soreness and fatigue to difficulty in breathing and potentially blood clotting, the public is unsure of the extent of insurance coverage in such cases. As with most new SOPs and policies, people were trying to figure out the definitions and criteria for the coverage.
Some netizens have also sarcastically voiced out that they are being treated as lab rats in an uncertain social climate. However, the fear and risks are real, especially when it concerns the life and well-being of the public. These fears and anxieties may be soothed if the public had more information and assurance from their insurance provider regarding the coverage offered.
It is obvious that there is not enough clarity on the topic with the remaining 20.7% unaware that insurance coverage for COVID-19 vaccination side effects is even a viable option.
2. What Do Insurance Companies Actually Cover?
Naturally, a large chunk of the public is confused about the coverage available to them due to the rise in concern of side effects due to vaccination. Many citizens are steadily facing more and more anxiety on the topic as on one hand they want to be safe from COVID-19 but are on the other hand unsure if the vaccination process may put them in harm’s way.
As an effort to calm these fears, several insurance companies have listed the assistance and coverage provided for cases due to COVID-19 vaccination side effects. Assistance from said insurers includes:
• Berjaya Sompo Insurance extends complimentary coverage for COVID-19 vaccination side effects.
• Prudential Malaysia has introduced the COVID-19 Hospitalisation & Post Vaccination Campaign.
• Great Eastern offers complimentary daily hospital cash benefits and death benefits.
• AIA Online Shield is a short-term plan that provides compensation in the event of death caused solely by accidental means, COVID-19, Dengue Fever and/or Side Effects of COVID-19 Vaccination.
• Zurich Malaysia offers free COVID-19 post-vaccination cover.
• Manulife Insurance Berhad (MIB) introduced a Post COVID-19 Vaccination Support Benefit to persons covered by MIB.
• Sun Life Malaysia has further extended support and protection for COVID-19 Vaccine Complications Fund and COVID-19 Medical Assistance Fund.
• Hong Leong Insurance covers complimentary benefits for complications caused by COVID-19 vaccination.
• FWD Takaful’s Eligible Customers are entitled if one is hospitalised or dies due to any complications or side effects arising from COVID-19 vaccinations.
Policyholders, however, are advised to contact their insurance company to find out more about the assistance offered in the event that they may develop side effects due to the COVID-19 vaccine. Such developments have raised the question of whether or not it’s necessary for the public to get insured for these possibilities.
3. What Are the Side Effects of the COVID-19 Vaccine?
The internet has been flooded with opinions and worries on the current hot topic of vaccine side effects. With such a significant percentage of the population unfamiliar with what vaccination is or why side effects are to be expected, it is understandable that some people have developed an irrational fear of vaccination and its side effects.
In this screenshot, we can tell how worried and lost citizens are when it comes to getting vaccinated. It really displays the wariness they feel and how unaware they may be. In light of the current situations, such polarising opinions can further discourage people who may be undecided about vaccination. This is counterproductive to the herd immunity plan of the government to help Malaysians survive this pandemic, leading to a further increase in cases, and adds to the extensive number of deaths as a result of COVID-19 infection.
In light of the current situation, the best way for the public to aid the nation’s recovery would be to be informed about the side effects. By educating ourselves on the possible side effects with the information provided from health authorities, we can be assured that it is, in fact, a safe option.
Here is a list of the common side effects that can be expected post-vaccination:
In the event that the said side effects lead to needing medical assistance or hospitalisation, medical insurance covering the COVID-19 vaccination side effects would come in handy.
For example, LIAM also said that the coverage includes hospitalisation costs that were medically necessary and reasonable due to the side effects from COVID-19 vaccination under the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme. Prudential Malaysia customers who have been diagnosed and hospitalised with COVID-19 would receive RM1,000 cash relief and RM10,000 upon death.
What Should You Do?
With all this information, it’s only natural to feel overwhelmed, but we are confident that you do have a better idea of the process and its effects with all this new information.
As of 1st June 2021, up to 12,267,350 citizens have registered for the vaccine, with 2,011,455 already vaccinated. The location with the highest number of registered vaccinations is Putrajaya with 100% of the population (67,667) already registered. On the other hand, out of Sabah’s population of 559,376 only 19.07% have registered for the vaccine. All other locations (Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Kuala Lumpur, Melaka, Labuan, N. Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Sarawak, and Terengganu) have a range of 34.75% to 67.45% of their citizens registered for vaccination.
We hope that it inspires you to sign up to get vaccinated either via the traditional way of MySejahtera or #CucukMyAz. After dealing with that important step, it is integral to speak to your insurance providers today to ensure you are covered on COVID-19 vaccination side effects.
UPDATE: As of Monday (May 31), Malaysia had detected 104 COVID-19 cases involving new variants in the country. On the other hand, Malaysia has procured 12 million doses of Sinovac which will ensure that approximately 18% of our population will benefit from this vaccine.
iWISERS has a multitude of social intel solutions and custom objective research services working with brands across APAC. Drop an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or chat with us on LinkedIn@iWISERS for social intel or industry studies that enable people-centric-data-based decision making.
iWISERS has a multitude of social intel solutions and custom objective research services working with brands across APAC.