Work in the summer is extremely difficult (image provided by Risk Benefit).
Hence, the costs incurred would be charged to the guarantor or the bereaved family, but there are cases where the tenant has moved in without a guarantor to begin with, or is completely disconnected from his/her relatives and refuses to pay. If this happens, the costs cannot be recovered from anywhere.
Insurance companies took notice of this situation. They saw a commercial opportunity in offering lonely death insurance as a product.
There are two main types of solitary death insurance.
Owner-purchased: The owner of the rental property purchases the insurance and pays for it.
Tenant-purchase type: Tenants pay the premiums themselves.
The contents of the insurance policies vary, but in general, the owner-purchase type insures the cost of special cleaning and the cost of organizing the property, while the tenant-purchase type includes the cost of discharging debts and other inheritances and funeral expenses.
There is a risk-benefit for companies that provide special cleaning services. Toru Tadamura, president of the company, says the following.
“Today, the purchase of solitary death insurance is becoming the standard in places where lone deaths are likely to occur, such as one-room apartments for rent. If I were to give you a sense of the situation on the ground, I would say that in large cities like Tokyo, more than half of the residents are covered by insurance.”
Solitary death insurance itself has been increasing for about 10 years. However, it is only in the last few years that it has been applied.
This is due to the characteristics of the insurance. There is a time lag of several years between the time an insured person enrolls and the time he or she actually dies. This is why people who have taken out insurance policies have been dying alone in recent years.
“Recently, real estate companies have been requiring their tenants to purchase insurance. Some insurance products include solitary death insurance along with fire insurance. So, instead of just putting in a solitary death insurance policy, we require them to purchase a set of insurance products.
Some of these insurance products cover the cost of removing household goods. People at high risk of dying alone tend to be at high risk of having their rooms trashed. This is also a tricky case for owners. So the demand for such insurance products will increase.”
Single-person households account for nearly 40% of all households.
According to the 2008 census, single-person households accounted for 38.1% of all households, and the number is increasing every year. In light of this, the solitary death insurance market is expected to continue to grow.
However, the situation is somewhat different for “tenant-purchase” solitary death insurance, which is purchased by tenants at their own discretion.
They are aware of the risk of dying alone, and the reason they pay a certain amount of money each month to purchase insurance is to avoid inconvenience to their children and other family members after their death.
However, if they do not inform their families that they have a solitary death insurance policy, or if the families forget about it, the insurance policy will not be used. In some cases, people live alone because they do not have a close relationship with their families, so the question of how to inform their families of the fact that they have insurance is one that cannot be taken lightly.
So, what is the current situation of solitary deaths after the COVID-19 crisis, and what is being done to avoid solitary deaths? In Part 2, we would like to report on the real stories of those who have died in solitary confinement.
(Honorifics omitted in the text)