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A complete guide to funeral insurance

9 January 2024
5 minute read

Planning ahead for funeral expenses is key to ensuring you and your loved ones can have a respectable service and burial, without having to worry about the costs. We've put together a funeral insurance guide that covers everything you need to know about funeral cover, including how to select the best funeral policy for you and your family.

The essence of funeral insurance 

Funerals are expensive! South Africans know that the costs of a casket, burial plot, service and gathering, as well as a memorial after the funeral, run into tens of thousands of rands. Without a  funeral cover policy that pays a lump sum on death of an insured member, most South Africans would be forced to use their savings, borrow from family or even take out a loan to cover funeral expenses.

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What funeral policies cover

The main benefit of funeral policies is the pay-out of the amount insured on the death of a policy member. This pay-out is subject to all terms and conditions being met and a valid claim being submitted. The amount of cover is based on what you choose and varies between R5 000 and R100 000 per member on a funeral policy.

Funeral policies may also include additional benefits, such as:

  • A grocery benefit that pays out on the death of a main member or his/her spouse
  • A repatriation benefit that will cover some or all of the costs of moving the deceased from the place of death to the place of burial within the borders of South Africa
  • A memorial benefit that covers all or a part of the cost of a headstone one year after passing

Additional benefits may be included in the cover and premium, or there may be an option to choose to include certain benefits in your policy and pay an additional premium. Be mindful of this when choosing your funeral policy.

Tailoring funeral insurance to your modern lifestyle 

South Africans are used to being able to buy goods and services online and that includes insurance policies like funeral cover. The good news is that you can get quotes and buy insurance policies online and even manage your policy and, in some cases, claim online! But, if you prefer to buy your cover in person, you can also chat to a broker or your financial adviser.  

Top tip: Always be sure that you understand how the funeral cover policy works, and check that it is underwritten by a registered insurer and licenced financial services provider.

Navigating funeral insurance jargon 

Funeral insurance policies do have some terms and conditions, although insurers like to keep these to a minimum! These are some of the most important terms you need to know to fully understand your funeral cover and benefits:

Member: The person whose life is insured. The main or principal member is the owner of the policy and is responsible for paying the premiums or ensuring they are paid if another person is paying the premiums. Additional members such as a spouse, parent, child or family member may be covered on the policy. As a rule of thumb, there needs to be an insurable interest when adding someone to your policy.

Sum assured: The amount you take out to cover the costs of a funeral for you and your loved ones. There may be limits on how much a member can be insured for, such as a maximum of R50 000 cover.

Premium: The amount that is due monthly as stated on your policy documents, such as R100 a month. Paying your premiums on time ensures you and your family members have the cover you need.

Premium escalation: When and by how much premiums increase.

Cooling off period: This is 31 days after the policy was taken out. It is a time in which you can review the policy to ensure that it still meets your needs and if not you can cancel the contract during this period, without incurring any penalties, provided you have not made any claims.

Waiting periods and exclusions: These are in your policy document and policy schedule and provide you specific instances when a claim will not be paid. For example, you have a waiting period of 6 months and 6 premiums paid, from the commencement date of the policy/cover, before you can claim for death due to natural causes.

Crafting your funeral policy: choosing and comparing funeral insurance options 

When choosing a funeral cover policy, you should first consider: 

  • How much you can afford to pay monthly in premiums
  • How many members you would like to cover on your policy
  • How much funeral cover you would like for your own and any additional members’ funerals
  • Any additional benefits you would like, bearing in mind that most funeral policies have specific additional benefits included that are not optional.

Then, you need to choose an insurer. There are many funeral insurance providers in South Africa, so it makes sense to compare what they offer to see which insurance provider can best meet your needs. When you compare, look at:

  • The sum assured the insurer allows for yourself and each family member
  • How many family members you are allowed to add to the policy
  • Any additional benefits offered, such as a grocery benefit
  • How claims and benefits are paid – such as in cash or directly to a specific provider
  • Does the insurer let you buy, manage and claim on your policy, conveniently and quickly and in your own time

Take time to research insurance providers and different policies online, chat to friends and family members about who they are insured with and use sites like Hello Peter to read reviews from other South Africans.

Importantly, your insurer should be a registered financial services provider with the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA).

1Life Insurance is an innovative insurer committed to offering easy to understand funeral cover that suits your family and your pocket. You can buy funeral cover online and save 40% on your premiums as well as manage your policy online and on WhatsApp. And valid claims can be paid as quickly as within 24 business hours!

Safeguarding tomorrow, today 

Your funeral plan plays an important role in your financial plan! When you plan ahead and provide peace of mind for loved ones, your family can rest assured that they are covered. Why not take a few minutes today to take out or review your funeral policy to make sure it meets your and your family’s needs?

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