All your options to ensure you don’t lose your funeral cover

Funeral insurance providers will have more empathy than usual if you skip a payment or two because of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Picture: 123RF/ANDRIY POPOV
Picture: 123RF/ANDRIY POPOV

Funeral insurance providers have put measures in place to help you if you can’t pay your funeral policy premiums during these tough times and they will have more empathy than usual if you skip a payment or two because of the Covid-19 lockdown. 

The financial services regulator appealed to insurers and other financial services providers to treat you with empathy during and after the lockdown given its impact on your finances and most providers have come up with measures.

However, beyond these measures you should try not to let your funeral policy lapse by not paying your premiums as you may need the benefits in this time when the novel coronavirus is claiming many lives.

Your Assupol policy will remain active and your claims will be paid as long as you are not behind on more than three consecutive premium payments, Jacques Erasmus, COO of Assupol Life, says. After that your policy will lapse. 

Being in arrears will, however, affect the amount for which you are covered. The sum paid if you claim will be adjusted for the arrear premiums, so try to pay your missed premiums as soon as possible, Erasmus says. 

Assupol is reviewing claims declined due to non-payment of premiums on its two funeral parlour groups and if it is clear that the non-payment of all premiums was a direct consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, the funeral insurer will consider the ex-gratia payment (a voluntary payment made out of kindness), he says. 

However, Assupol will only assist you in this way if your premiums were up to date before the state of disaster was declared.

Avbob has introduced a free premium waiver benefit for all policyholders who have been paying premiums for more than two years, Marius du Plessis, group communication manager at Avbov, says. This will pay your premiums if you are retrenched as a result of the virus and the lockdown.

If you miss a premium, the Avbob call centre will contact you to find out how it can assist you to retain your cover, special bonuses and free benefit, he says.

Old Mutual’s chief communications officer Tabby Tsengiwe says the majority of its funeral policies already provide for premium holidays, and your cover will only lapse if you have used up all these holidays.

You will, however, be allowed to reinstate such policies within three months of lapse, without having to repay any missed premiums and with no new waiting periods, she says.

Charl Nel, communications head at Capitec, says the bank is currently in talks with its underwriter, Centriq, regarding possible payment holidays without the policy lapsing. 

Peter Castleden, CEO of Sanlam Indie, says Indie’s policyholders can skip up to five consecutive premiums without losing their cover altogether.

Indie temporarily reduces the cover amount based on how many premiums you have paid in the previous six months. So, if you miss two premiums in a six-month period, you will have 4/6th of your original cover amount, he explains.

Once you have paid premiums for six consecutive months, your cover will be restored to the full amount you took out originally, he says.

There are some restrictions about the maximum number of times you can skip premiums over your lifetime. If you skip six premiums in a row, your policy will be cancelled and you will have to take out a new policy if you want to be covered again, Castleden says.

A whisteblower recently alerted the Financial Sector Conduct Authority that certain funeral parlours were making policyholders stand in long ques to pay premiums in contravention of social distancing recommendations.

FSCA spokesperson Thembisa Marele says the regulator directed these institutions to limit staff at their offices and to take precautionary measures to limit the spread of the virus.

Many providers are encouraging policyholders to pay their premiums and make claims via online and digital channels rather than visiting a branch.

Assupol policyholders who don’t pay through salary or social grant deductions, can use EasyPay and Pay@ at retailers operating during the lockdown, Erasmus says.

Du Plessis says Avbob policyholders can pay their premiums electronically directly into the Avbob Absa bank account. 

Tsengiwe says you call your Old Mutual financial adviser or connect digitally via the Old Mutual website or app. You can submit a claim via your cell phone by dialing *120*6672#.

Capitec funeral policy premiums can be paid via the Capitec banking app and claims can be submitted by email or by calling Capitec’s 24-hour client care call centre.

Indie’s premiums are by debit order, credit or debit card only.

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