Funerals are big business in South Africa and South Africans spend a lot of money to ensure loved ones are given a dignified burial. Many families take out funeral policies to cover the costs of an appropriate send-off but, even then, there's no guarantee that'll happen... So, what are your rights as a policy holder, and what can you do should you gind yourself with a service provider unable to deliver on its promises?
1. Oftentimes, dodgy policy providers will insist on a verbal agreement between themselves and the policyholder. Insist on a written agreement that is signed by both yourself and the provider.
2. Read the fine print. While it can be a tedious process, it's crucial that you fully understand how your policy works, what you're covered for, and what your responsibilities and rights as a policyholder are. If you battle to make sense of the jargon, approach a legal expert or someone you trust to explain the fine print.
3. Keep a record of payments. Even when you pay your monthly instalments in cash, you should insist on a receipt, invoice, or account reflecting all your payments.
4. Is your policy underwritten by a long-term authorised financial services provider (FSP)? No company may provide insurance of any kind without a licenced FSP. This ensures your monthly payments go to a registered insurance provider who will be able to pay out your claim with little to no hassle. It also protects your rights as a consumer should things go wrong.
5. When visiting your provider's office, the FSP number and a copy of their licence must be clearly visible for members to see.
6. Also confirm that your policy provider is indeed underwritten. Before you sign any documents, call the FSP as listed on the policy documents. Sometimes, funeral policy providers claim to be underwritten by insurance company X when, in fact, they are not.
7. Never settle for the first option. Request quotes from several funeral cover providers to compare the monthly cost, what cover you get, and any fine print that could affect your eventual claim.
8. No person is allowed to hold onto your personal ID or bank cards in the event you're unable to pay your monthly premium. Legitimate providers will have systems in place to help you when you find yourself in a financial pinch.
9. Regularly check with your funeral cover provider that all details are up to date. This includes your personal details, the details of your beneficiaries, and covered individuals are correct.
HOW TO CHECK YOUR FUNERAL POLICY PROVIDER
Check all documents for the FSP number. You can input that number on the Financial Sector Conduct Authority's (FSCA) website to confirm whether that FSP number is valid.
Should there not be an FSP number, you can also check the validity of your policy by typing in the provider's name, a provider's personal ID number, or even by postal code.
WHAT IF I LOST MY POLICY DOCUMENTS?
If you can't find your original policy documents, you can request copies of the agreement from your policy provider. Should the provider refuse to supply these documents, you can lodge a complaint with the FSCA or the Ombudsman for Long Term Insurance.
Source: FSCA | Ombudsman for Long Term Insurance