A PARTICIPATION certificate is crucial, because it indicates exactly who and what is covered by the funeral policy.     Pixabay
A PARTICIPATION certificate is crucial, because it indicates exactly who and what is covered by the funeral policy. Pixabay

OPINION: What you should know about funeral policies

By Pierre Schoeman Time of article published Sep 4, 2019

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The thought of your funeral may seem quite grim, yet planning it might be wise, says Pierre Schoeman, the head of client services at African Unity Life. While you don’t have to have everything sorted down to a T, there are several steps you can take now to ensure that you don’t place an unnecessary financial burden or stress on your family, says Schoeman.

Securing a funeral policy should be at the top of your list of priorities, says Schoeman.

If you are working through an intermediary, such as a funeral parlour, church group or burial society, you, as the policyholder, should know who the policy underwriter is and make sure that it is a registered insurer with a financial services provider number, says Schoeman.

Consider different funeral policies and choose the one that will suit your financial needs. Research the exact benefits the policy provides, who it will cover and whether it includes additional pay-outs. Also look at whether it covers all aspects of your funeral, so that you can make provision for the things for which your family may have to pay, such as administration costs, says Schoeman.

Undertakers usually add different fees to their final cost. This includes obtaining the death certificate, storing your body and other services.

You’ll need to make a list of all the essential documents and information your family will need, says Schoeman. One of the most important documents you need is a participation certificate, which should list all relevant terms and conditions related to your funeral cover. This document is crucial, as it indicates exactly who and what is covered by the policy, he says.

Often, when submitting a claim, people are told that the deceased was not covered by the policy, so insist on receiving a participation certificate once you have signed up for the policy, says Schoeman.

You should also be aware of different waiting periods for different causes of death. Find out whether there’s a waiting period before receiving the pay-out. It is common for insurers to pay out within 48 hours if the correct documentation is submitted to them timeously, says Schoeman.

In the case of death due to natural causes, you will need to wait six calendar months from the date of inception of your policy, says Schoeman.

In the case of death resulting from an accident, there is no waiting period provided that you have paid your first premium, and in the event of a suicide, the waiting period for your funeral cover will be 12 calendar months from the inception date, says Schoeman.

Equally important is sharing policy details with a designated relative, preferably the nominated beneficiary, to make sure that they will have access to documentation such as your identity document, marriage certificate, life insurance and funeral cover policies, and your will, says Schoeman. 


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