Sanlam's digital life assurance offshoot, Indie, achieved a South African first last week: it opened a tech-enabled self-service store in Soweto.

Despite being a necessity, life cover is considered by many to be a grudge purchase. Adding to the “grudge” is the fact that for an underwritten policy there is a relatively laborious application process: you need to answer a long list of complex questions and go for medical tests, and your cover kicks in only once this process is completed. Hence the high sales among less financially savvy South Africans of non-underwritten policies (in which the insurance company takes on more risk), which require less upfront information, give you immediate cover, but which cost more and which may present greater obstacles when you claim. 

Indie offers an affordable mix of life, disability and funeral cover which, through its tech-driven approach, is fully underwritten and simple to buy – directly online, through a call centre, or via a broker. You will still need to answer questions about your health and risk profile, but these have been simplified to maximise efficiency and minimise confusion and hassle.

Another plus of the Indie product is that a portion of your premium goes into an investment account. The account is called Bounty. Depending on your age, you get up to 100% of your monthly premium paid into the investment each month, meaning that while paying for life cover, you are building wealth.

The Soweto bricks-and-mortar outlet allows you to buy a fully underwritten policy in under 10 minutes. In the store, there are experts who can answer any questions you may have.

Indie chief executive Peter Castleden says that few South Africans have access to the full potential of pairing technology and advice to create wealth. “Our bigger mission at Indie is to bring exceptional products to everyone, rather than having them pretty much exclusively available to the already well off, so accessibility is really something we want to do.

“Insurers have made it very difficult to buy life insurance. Complicated wording, levels of unnecessary complexity and ridiculous hoops that consumers are made to jump through almost make it seem that insurers don’t really want you to be covered.”

The store is at L129 Mahalefele Road in Dube, Soweto. Castleden urges Soweto residents to test it out: “Head in-store and get a quotation for life insurance – you’ll see how simple the process is.”