How much a funeral costs in South Africa

In South Africa, burying a loved one can be expensive, which explains why most insured adults have some form of funeral cover.

This is according to a new report by Sanlam, which found that funerals can cost anything from R6,000 for low-income families and up to R50,000 for middle-income families.

Sanlam found that in some cases, families will hire buses, marquees and have a meal for the funeral attendees – all of which can push costs up drastically.

The report follows a 2016 consumer survey by the independent non-profit FinMark Trust, which found insurance uptake among South African adults was mainly driven by funeral cover. At the time, only 8.2 million adults had insurance cover that wasn’t a funeral policy.

Insurers are also starting to look at merging life and funeral cover policies together, which is a great way to attract cash-strapped consumers who don’t want to pay for multiple policies, says Vera Nagtegaal, the executive head of Hippo.co.za.

“The rise of simple and quick insurance solutions – made available via mobile apps, simple SMS services that come with other products, means that there’s now more exposure than ever to insurance products for all South Africans,” she said.

“It’s also important that insurers make it easy for millennials taking up their products to understand what they’re getting into. Transparency is key with millennials. If you can’t be upfront and make the policies easy to understand, it’s likely that they’ll turn away.”

Millennial or not, understanding the funeral policy you sign up for is important, said Nagtegaal.

“Be aware of how much the policy pays out and make sure it’s sufficient. You should also understand the implications of taking on more than one policy.”

She added that it was important to read the fine print and know what conditions or exclusions are attached in order to avoid a situation where the provider will not pay you out.

Funeral costs

According to Sanlam, the cost of a funeral depends on the type of funeral and on the requirements the deceased specified in his/her last will and testament, as well as on the type of coffin or urn, cremation fees, religious ceremonies and the undertaker services used.

It noted that cremation is usually considerably less expensive, while other aspects that will affect the cost of a funeral are the price of a burial plot, flowers, food, a headstone, a graveside tent, programmes for the service, preparation and storage of the body, a funeral notice in the newspaper, registration of death and travel costs.

Cremations cost around R5,000, which includes collecting the ashes from the crematorium, but excludes costs like flowers and food. Scattering the ashes of your loved one can also add considerably to the cost, with Wiesenhof Legacy Park in Stellenbosch asking R6,000.

  • Entry-level market funerals  – Family income in this group ranges from R3,000 to R10,000 per month, with the cost of a funeral starting from R6 000 upwards.
  • Middle-income group – Funeral costs for this group range between R12,000 and R50, 000.
  • High-income group –  On the other end of the spectrum, a funeral in a private cemetery like Fourways Memorial Park in Gauteng, can cost on average R40,000, but may be much higher in certain cases. For instance, the funeral of Top Billing presenter Simba Mhere cost over R500 000, and that of Senzo Meyiwa, Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates goalkeeper, a full R3 million.

Read: What a litre of petrol would cost in South Africa without government’s steep taxes

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