The last thing you want to do when you’re overwhelmed by the loss of a loved one is to be worrying about paying for the funeral. You also don’t want them to worry about how to pay for yours when you’re gone. Funerals are both emotionally and financially taxing, but the good thing is you can plan for the latter. To help you do so, here are some tips for what to keep in mind when choosing funeral cover.

BE PROACTIVE

It’s easy to put it off and think you’ll get to it another time because it doesn’t seem that urgent. But death is inevitable and often unexpected, so being prepared is key.

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 WHAT KIND OF SEND-OFF DO YOU WANT?

How much you can afford to pay every month is important, but you also need to think about how much cover you want. “The payout amount should be enough to cover all the funeral costs,” says John Manyike, Old Mutual head of financial education.

“Decide what type of funeral you’d like and find out how much it’s likely to cost,” says Craig Torr, director at financial planning company Crue Invest. There are a lot of expenses when it comes to funerals – from the coffin and undertaker’s fee to the service itself, flowers, leaflets and catering. Costs vary widely – from R15 000 for a basic funeral to R200 000 for a lavish send-off, says Grant Kerr, a funeral advisor at Kerr’s Funeral Directors. A basic funeral of R15 000 would cover grave fees, a coffin, 100 leaflets, flowers and the service, Kerr says. Grave fees range from R1 500 to R6 000 depending on the municipal gravesite you choose.

Churches generally don’t charge a fixed fee for a funeral service, but you’ll need to make a donation, which is usually R500 and up. Lavish funerals can cost between R100 000 and R200 000, Kerr says. “It’s the same process, but a lot more fancy.” Torr says if you budget for funeral expenses of R20 000 “don’t buy insurance in excess of this amount”. Remember, the higher the payout you want, the higher the monthly premium.

The next thing you need to do is decide which dependants – children, parents, parents-in-law – you want to include on the policy and the level of cover you’d like them to have. This will determine the monthly cost.

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COMPARING PLANS

These are the things to look at when shopping around for a funeral cover, according to Manyike and Torr:

The insurer’s reputation in terms of claims payout and the ease of claiming If there are additional benefits offered, such as grocery vouchers, education benefits (school fees being covered for a certain number of months, for example) and assistance with funeral planning The number of people that can be covered on the policy Find out if you have the option to take a premium “holiday” in the event of retrenchment or other times of financial stress and what the conditions are with regard to this Check if your cover increases every year so the payout keeps up with inf lation – but keep in mind this will mean your premium increases too If your policy promises you a cashback benefit, it’s likely the premiums are inflated to cover the costs of this benefit. To ensure you’re comparing apples with apples, ask the insurer to quote you on cover that excludes a cashback benefit