The cost of a funeral in South Africa can be as high as R100,000. This is a significant amount of money for most families, particularly in the case of an unexpected passing, and it can add serious stress at an already difficult time.
While nobody likes to think about leaving their loved ones behind, the inevitable reality is that our time will one day come. Finding a good funeral insurance plan now will ensure that your family can pay their respects without worrying about finances or taking on debt
Best Funeral Cover in South Africa
Let’s take a look at the top 5 funeral cover insurers in South Africa.
Clientèle stands out as the most comprehensive funeral insurance policy on the market. They offer two levels of funeral cover: Funeral Dignity from R205 per month, and Ultimate Dignity from R215. You can add your partner, three children, and eight extended family members to your plan, with extended cover starting at R2 per person per day.
Both plans provide up to R100,000 funeral benefit for individuals, and up to R500,000 cover for families. For accidental death of the main policyholder only, the Funeral Dignity plan offers a double accident benefit, where your beneficiaries will be paid double the insurance benefit up to the amount of R100,000.
Each plan pays out within 24 hours of a verified claim, and you or your beneficiaries will immediately be put in touch with a dedicated 24-hour helpline. Clientèle’s professional funeral team will advise you on funeral arrangements, connect you with discounted suppliers and vendors, and help you to arrange grief counselling, repatriation and other services as needed.
Both the Funeral Dignity and Ultimate Dignity funeral policies come with:
- An airtime benefit of R200 payable immediately.
- A grocery benefit of R3000, payable in one immediate lump sum or three instalments of R1000.
- An unveiling benefit of R2000, payable immediately or within one year of the death.
The Ultimate Dignity funeral plan also comes with a R2,000 transport benefit and a premium payback benefit. If you join before the age of 50, you can choose to have half of your premiums refunded to you when you reach 65, with the other half refunded to your beneficiaries when you die. Alternatively, you can have the full amount refunded to your beneficiaries.
As a Clientèle customer, you’ll also get access to the free Clientèle rewards app, where you can manage your policy online and access significant monthly discounts on popular products and services.
Assupol’s Absolute Advantage funeral insurance starts at around R95 per month and offers up to R75,000 coverage for singles and families. The family plan covers a spouse and up to five children, and extended family members can be added to either plan for an additional premium.
Assupol also offers the following add-on benefits for both plans, again for an additional but affordable premium:
- A memorial benefit paid out either five or 11 months after death.
- A monthly family income (or grocery) benefit paid out for six months.
- Double the insurance benefit pay-out for accidental death.
- A cash-back benefit every four years, even if you make a claim during that time.
- A premium waiver benefit to keep your family covered.
- A six-month premium waiver if you get retrenched from your job.
Assupol really stands out in terms of the support offered alongside their policies. The additional On-Call benefit offers an extensive list of services to help you and your family through illness or bereavement. This includes:
- HIV/AIDS assistance.
- Qualified medical advice or assistance via telephone.
- Ambulance or other emergency medical transport.
- Medical facility admission fees.
- Transport of deceased and relatives.
- Trauma counselling.
- Tutoring support for children.
- Financial advice.
- Discounts on funeral services and other expenses.
You can also choose to add on the Health+ benefit, which provides cover for the non-medical expenses that might arise from your hospitalisation.
Finally, the On-Call Plus benefit is a catch-all benefit that can be spent on expenses like groceries, utilities, transport and airtime. This benefit is paid out within minutes after a claim and provides assurance that your family’s immediate needs are taken care of during their time of grief.
One of the most affordable funeral cover insurers on the market, Sanlam’s icover plan offers family cover starting at just R25 per month. You and your loved ones can be insured for up to R40,000, with children under 21 added to the policy at no additional cost.
Sanlam’s affordability is partly down to its simplicity, with all pay-outs made in one lump sum as opposed to individual benefits. It’s paid out within 48 hours of a claim, and then you or your family can allocate the benefit as needed.
One of the trade-offs for such an affordable plan is a longer waiting period for natural death – 12 months instead of the typical six. You also won’t get the added extras that some plans offer, like telephone support and legal assistance. However, if you’re looking for simple funeral insurance cover that won’t break the bank, then Sanlam is a top choice.
Hollard offers highly flexible funeral insurance cover, providing up to R75,000 of funeral benefit. All plans allow for multiple relatives to be added to the policy, with all insured lives covered for:
- Burial repatriation.
- A R250 airtime benefit.
- Legal assistance via telephone.
You can also add the following optional extras to your funeral policy to tailor it to your needs:
- Up to R10,000 memorial benefit.
- A monthly provider benefit (similar to a grocery benefit) of up to R2,000 per month for a year.
- A vehicle access benefit giving access to a car for six days to make funeral arrangements.
- A premium holiday benefit allowing you to skip your premiums every December.
- A paid-up benefit allowing you to stop paying premiums at 65 years old.
- A money-back benefit that pays you 20% of your premiums back every five years.
Worried about how your family will afford insurance after your death? Hollard’s optional premium waiver benefit covers everyone on your policy until you would have been 65 years old, with no further premiums required.
1Life’s funeral insurance starts from around R240 per month and provides up to R50,000 funeral benefit, payable within an impressive three minutes of a qualifying claim. This includes:
- Burial repatriation to any location within South Africa, including transport and accommodation for one accompanying family member.
- Legal assistance relating to funeral procedures, death certification and documentation.
- Advice and referrals for funeral providers and specialist grief support services.
- Up to R6,000 grocery benefit, payable in one lump sum or in six monthly instalments.
- Up to R5,000 memorial benefit payable within 12 months of death.
As the main member, you can add up to 16 additional family members for an additional cost, including two spouses and five children. Should you pass away, your spouse or eldest family member can choose to continue the policy as the main member, ensuring that your family continues to enjoy full protection. And with the premium waiver feature, they won’t be required to pay premiums for two full years after your death.
How does funeral insurance work?
Like any insurance policy, funeral insurance cover requires you to pay a monthly premium in return for a benefit paid out when you pass away. This benefit is paid to your beneficiary, which is usually your partner and/or children, although you can nominate another beneficiary if you wish.
You might see your funeral benefit referred to as “R100,000 benefit”, “R100,000 cover”, “R100,000 funeral cover” or something similar. This total benefit can be paid out immediately in one lump sum to cover all the costs of your funeral arrangements and service. Alternatively, it may be divided into a smaller lump sum and a series of additional benefit payments for specific expenses, such as a memorial service.
Many funeral insurance policies also allow you to cover the deaths of partners, children and other family members, although in most cases you will have to pay a higher premium for this coverage.
You will usually be subject to a waiting period before you or your beneficiaries can claim against your funeral insurance. During this time, you will have to pay your premiums, but the insurer will not pay out the benefit should you pass away. However, most insurers will waive this waiting period in the event of death due to accident or, at present, COVID-19 infection.
What’s the difference between funeral insurance and life insurance?
Life insurance is intended to protect you and your family from general financial hardship in the event of serious injury or death. The funeral insurance benefit is explicitly intended to cover the expenses of a funeral service and its associated costs.
A life insurance benefit is typically much higher than the benefit paid by funeral insurance, but it takes longer to verify and pay out a life insurance claim. On the other hand, funeral insurance is usually paid out within 24-48 hours of the claim, so the family of the deceased are able to access the money they need almost immediately.
What can funeral insurance help to pay for?
Funeral parlour fees
The funeral parlour provides safe keeping of the deceased, documentation, funeral service arrangements, transportation by hearse, and other associated services. Their fees can range between R5,000 and R10,000, and may be even higher if the deceased needs to be transported out of the country. If you wish for your funeral to be held in another country, it may be worth looking for a policy with a higher benefit or a specific repatriation benefit.
Burial or cremation costs
The casket is usually the largest funeral expense. The very plainest options start at around R700, but the average cost is around R8,000, and the top-end options can be as high as R50,000! In addition, a grave site with municipal burial fees can range from R1,000 to R6,000, and a tombstone can range from R1,500 to R8,000.
Cremation is considerably cheaper than burial at around R5,000, but there may be additional costs if you decide to have your ashes spread.
Where would you want your funeral to be held? Venue hire will usually cost at least R1,000, and if you anticipate a lot of attendees or you have your heart set on a special location, this will push the price up higher. You’ll also need to consider tent hire, which could cost up to R5,000.
This is a cost that many people don’t think about but it can add up quickly, particularly if attendees will be travelling long distances and/or coming from out of town. Consider how many people might attend and from where, and how best to transport them between their accommodation and the venue.
The cost of catering will vary according to the number of attendees. If you also factor in a livestock offering, a goat can cost around R1,000 while a cow can cost upwards of R6,000.
Finally, many people want to be surrounded by their favourite flowers as they’re laid to rest. Funeral insurance can be used to cover the cost of flower arrangements for the venue and casket, which may cost anything from R500 to R5,000.
What other funeral benefits should you look for?
In many cases, your funeral policy will feature specifically designated benefits like an unveiling benefit. For example, you may buy funeral cover that pays R100,000 in total, of which R3,000 is an unveiling benefit. Here are some of the most common benefits and what they cover.
If you’re the primary earner in your household, a funeral policy with a grocery benefit can ensure your family can continue to afford day-to-day expenses like food, toiletries and household supplies. It can be issued in cash or vouchers, either as a lump sum after your death or in regular instalments for a fixed period afterwards.
A vehicle benefit will cover your attendees’ transport to and from the funeral venue. However, you should check the mileage included in the benefit and consider whether it will be sufficient, as you wouldn’t want your family to incur any surprise additional costs.
The memorial is an important ritual in which the tombstone is unveiled and the life of the deceased is celebrated. An unveiling benefit covers the cost of the memorial and unveiling, and it can also be used for expenses like the tombstone itself.
Because the memorial happens around a year after the funeral, this benefit is usually paid separately from the lump sum benefit at the time of the memorial. This offers you peace of mind that your family will still be able to cover the cost of the memorial further down the line.
Between notifying relatives and making arrangements, organising a funeral involves a lot of phone calls. Some funeral policies offer an additional airtime benefit to help you cover the cost, wherein an airtime credit is applied directly to the beneficiary’s phone.
Premium payback benefit
Some funeral insurance policies will refund all or part of your monthly premiums at certain milestones like retirement age, which can ease the burden of no longer earning an income. Others may pay the premiums back to your beneficiary when you die, helping to further ease financial hardship for your loved ones.
As you can see, the benefits of taking out funeral insurance cover are huge. While we don’t want to think of leaving our loved ones behind, we also don’t want to think of them agonising over their finances while they’re grieving. With the right funeral insurance cover, you can continue to take care of your family and give them everything they need to plan a dignified funeral.