Is Discovery’s R3.4bn Covid-19 provision sufficient?

Previous to the discharge of Discovery’s full-year monetary results to end-June, the market already had a stable indication of what to anticipate.

In mid-June, it warned that it might e book an approximate R3.three billion cost as a reserve for “the potential claims and lapse influence of Covid-19 which are projected to emerge in future durations”.


The ultimate provision is R3.442 billion, with practically 60% of this comprised of the reserve within the Discovery Life (insurance coverage) e book. Two additional fees have been booked within the UK well being (R713 million) and life (R569 million) insurance coverage companies with a small R181 million cost in Discovery Make investments.

Web of discretionary margins, the revenue influence is R2.three billion.

To reach at these figures, Discovery estimated the “future mortality, morbidity and financial results of the pandemic” throughout the following two monetary years (to December 2021) and modelled quite a lot of situations “by setting a burdened, central (prudent finest estimate) and light-weight state of affairs”.

To set the supply, it used the central state of affairs. It used the burdened state of affairs to check capital and liquidity. If the end result over the approaching years was nearer to the so-called mild state of affairs, it says there shall be a “materials launch of provisions” in future years.

The expertise up to now?

Solely 13% of the group’s complete life claims provision has been used so far, which equates to round 69% of what it had anticipated.

Within the native life insurance coverage enterprise (Discovery Life), 16% of the claims provision has been used so far. The full provision raised was R1.979 billion, roughly evenly cut up between lapses and claims. Nonetheless, if one components within the R921 million launch of margin, the online influence is R1.058 billion.

Supply: Discovery Holdings presentation

The group says the “claims reserve is suitable and enough for a possible second wave”. The illustrative progressions for each the group (SA and UK) and Discovery Life (SA solely) present this could handily be the case.

Learn: Covid-19 hospital admissions cost Discovery R85 000 on average (Might 2020)

Precise versus projected deaths in each the Discovery Life and Vitality Life books present that the precise variety of deaths will probably be beneath the medium state of affairs as modelled.

The additional away from this state of affairs the precise quantity is – in different phrases, if there are fewer deaths than anticipated – the extra of the supply on the life insurance coverage claims entrance Discovery will have the ability to unwind. Conversely, ought to circumstances deteriorate, it could need to e book an extra cost.

In each circumstances, this may influence earnings however not money stream.

Supply: Discovery Holdings presentation

The availability for Covid-19 throughout the group (web R2.34 billion) is important, on condition that earnings from operations for the yr totalled R8.four billion. This equates to 28% of earnings.

A far greater influence on headline earnings was brought on by the R4.eight billion cost because of the lowest rates of interest in current historical past in each SA and the UK.

“Vital actions in optimistic actual charges of return in SA and detrimental actual charges of return within the UK has a big impact on coverage values and headline earnings, however none on money flows, solvency or capital in SA; and for the reason that implementation of the hedge technique – little influence within the UK”.

The hedge within the UK provides away any upside for the primary 100 foundation factors (bps) of charges will increase, however thereafter there’s important upside as charges rise.

Supply: Discovery Holdings presentation

“The influence within the interval was R3.6 billion for Discovery Life and £60.5 million web of the valuation of the hedge for Vitality Life, with no bearing on working efficiency.”

It expects working earnings in Vitality Life to “revert” to regular ranges subsequent yr.

Core new enterprise for the yr grew by 5% to R19.2 billion.

The group’s established companies (Discovery Well being, Life, Make investments and Vitality Well being and Life within the UK) had been a drag, with new enterprise declining by 5% within the yr (Discovery Well being and Vitality Well being had been down by 9% and eight% respectively).

Its rising companies (Discovery Insure, Vitality Group and Ping An Well being Insurance coverage in China) grew new enterprise by 29%. New enterprise in its so-called new companies, together with Discovery Financial institution, Vitality Make investments, Vitality1, Umbrella Funds and Discovery Enterprise Insurance coverage, was up 114%.

Working revenue was up eight% for the yr (to R8.four billion), however after the Covid-19 fees, it was 22% decrease at R6.1 billion.

Headline earnings had been 94% decrease at R296 million, however after the rate of interest fees are unwound (web of tax and the rate of interest spinoff), the group says normalised headline earnings are down 26% at R3.eight billion.