It is hard to imagine dealing with the pain of losing a loved one and having to handle the funeral arrangements. It is extremely emotional and stressful to everyone involved. Now you take that stress and add in the fact that not every funeral service company is trustworthy, and you can see why many people are lost and unable to prepare for what to do next. It is a truly hard time for everyone involved, and you have to be careful not to get taken advantage of in this day and age.
It is unimaginable that some companies would take advantage of someone so vulnerable as those that have just lost someone so dear to them, but they are out there right now doing it. In fact, in the last month, the Financial Services Board or FSB for short has advised the public not to do any business with thirteen funeral insurance providers that are currently under investigation. These thirteen providers are Baxolise Funerals, Botlhe Funeral Undertakers, City Funerals, Devine Casia, Eyodidi Funeral Undertakers, Infinitum Funeral Assist, Itshereletso Funerals, Matome Molefe Funeral Service, Ndikhokhele Yehova Funeral Service, Nom and Macc Funeral Services, M&P Funeral Services, Tswelopele Funerals and Zelda’s Wreaths and Coffins.
According to Jacky Huma, the head of micro insurance at the FSB, “some of the companies have already started working with us and helping us to get a view to regularize their business activities, and many of these companies are also in the process of hiring and underwriter.” However, it is important to remember that these investigations are still in progress and any of these companies who are not fully cooperating with the FSB investigation will be subject to full regulatory action.
Hama would also like to note that there are 135 cases open for investigation into the possibility of unregistered insurance businesses by funeral homes and other companies providing funeral insurance. Unfortunately, at this time, no one can be sure of how many funeral policies have been provided by these companies. It will take further investigation to know the true impact these companies have made on unsuspecting people.
The CEO of MiWayLife Craig Baker agrees that this is a common scam. According to Baker, “a typical case of fraud for funeral cover is when people obtain funeral policies from a scam artist who never has any intention of providing this coverage.” The scam artists will normally use face-to face interaction to lure in their prey with promises that will never be kept. The premiums will be paid for in cash. This, in turn, will make the purchasers think that everything is all good and that they now have coverage. However, there is never an insurance company involved in underwriting the risk, and the premiums collected will never be handed over to a registered insurance provider.
Baker goes on to say that the scam artists take full advantage of the fact their prey lacks knowledge in the financial services industry, and by the time that the fraud is discovered it is too late. Unfortunately, all the money that was paid will have become almost impossible to recover. There are many industry insiders that claim there are many ways for these scam artists to infiltrate the system and prey on unsuspecting individuals.
Many insurance companies certify that they can pay your claim within 48 hours of receiving documents that prove the policyholder is dead. This offers a great turnaround time for the beneficiaries to receive their benefits; unfortunately, this process also allows the scam artists a way to get their gains long before any type of investigation into fraud or other criminal activity can be launched. Using this method, the scam artists often fool the insurers, who can also fall prey to these smooth talkers.
According to Sonja Visser CEO of Africa Unity Life, “there are quite a few organizations that operate within this space. They use stolen IDs and even sway mortuary staff to give them information about unidentified cadavers. They can easily use these stolen IDs to begin the process of a claim on people who may have died years ago or for people who may not even know they were insured.”
So, the big question of the day is how do I avoid falling victim to these tricky scam artists? Here are a few tips to help you on your way:
- Only Deal with Reputable Companies. This is one of the best tips to remember. Do your research on the companies you use. Check reviews and listen to word of mouth, but most importantly, you need to check with the FSB to verify that the company you are considering is properly registered.
- Work With the Proper Individual. Unfortunately, many scam artists will try to convince you that they work with or for a reputable company to put your mind at ease. According to Baker, “if you are ever in doubt, go with your gut and check out the individual. You can see if they truly work for the company by calling that company or the FSB.” He cautions that you will need their full name and ID number to perform this search. If they are unwilling to give you this information, it should throw off some warning signs, and you should quickly walk away and discontinue any type of business dealings you had with them.
- Know Your Paperwork. It is best that you understand any and everything that you are signing, and you should never allow anyone the chance to hide something from you or pull the wool over your eyes. Visser states that you should always request to see all your policy information. You should never agree to anything that is not in your contract, written down for everyone to see. Remember a professional and reputable insurer will be transparent and supply you with all the details, no matter how big or small, of your policy.
- Do Your Due Diligence. Don’t shy away from looking into everyone you are dealing with. You have to do your research not only on the insurance company involved but also the person selling you the policy and the insurance policy they are offering. There are many sellers who do not actually work for the company providing your policy, which is fine and normal, but you still need to ensure that both the seller and the insurance company are truly looking out for you and your policy exists. It is also crucial for you to completely understand your policy to ensure that your beneficiaries do not run into any problems during the claim process.
- Never Make a Payment in Cash. Many scam artists may pressure you into using cash to make a payment. This way there will be no record of what you ever gave them, if anything at all. It is best to use a credit card, debit card or check to ensure that you have some type of record on how much you paid them. This will help you keep track of how much and how often you have paid your insurance and give you all the necessary proof of payment should you need it.
It can be a difficult process trying to find the right funeral insurance provider; however, it is of the utmost importance that you do all the legwork required to hire the best company for you. All of this hardwork will pay off in the end. Also, one of the most important things to do after you