Insurance coverage in South Africa

Hello everyone,

Moving abroad requires adequate insurance coverage.

What type of insurance expatriates need the most in South Africa: health, house or liability insurance? All of them? Do they come as a package?

Are there other insurance options to consider like critical illness, damage or property insurance?

Is it better to purchase insurance from an expat insurance specialist or from a local insurance provider?

And what about insurance costs?

Tell us about your experience in South Africa.



Hi to all,

I am an Insurance Broker with experience spanning 27 years.

Crime in South Africa is quite alarming, therefore vehicle and household cover is a must.

I can recommend Santam Insurance for reliability and Momentum Insurance for  extremely competitive pricing.

Package deals can combine Vehicle, House owners and House contents cover.

Discounts are usually awarded for high security (home linked alarm), Tracking device in the vehicle, named drivers etc.

Premiums can also be reduced by accepting a voluntary excess in addition to the compulsory excess.

Medical / Hospital cover is a separate issue and not included as a package.

For further free advice you are welcome to email me at:   finsureman[at]



When I moved to South Africa I took out a lot of insurance, because of crime, like for everything, even including my pets! - but after a couple of break-ins, muggings, an attempted car-jacking etc., I decided the last time I was robbed to cancel all insurance except the car, not only because it was expensive, not only because insurance companies do not live up to their promises but because I realised I am supporting the very thing we all want to prevent, that is, crime.

My reason, if you keep replacing it, they will keep coming back, hence I do not own a television anymore, or fancy gadgets or gold jewellery etc. and I have a notice on my door that reads, "I'm broke, no insurance, no replacements, you have already stolen it."  I have not had another incident since.  Having no television has meant that I am more social, get out more, do healthy activities and when I want to watch a movie I go out with friends to the movie house or alternatively, I watch a movie on my second hand laptop.  I do not own gold jewellery anymore as one can rarely wear it in safety, so I sold that which was not stolen and had a lovely relationship building holiday with my family instead and paid some of my student fees, things people cannot steal.

I also used to have health insurance which I found was more of a scam than coverage so I cancelled that too after waiting four hours in casualty in a private hospital near midnight with chronic abdominal pain that could have constituted appendix, miscarriage or anything else alarming and I was seriously ill while a nurse asked if I was sure it was that bad or was it just "pms".  I had a serious ulcer poisoning my system that needed serious attention and I had been vomiting etc. for three days. My husband eventually flipped his nut and took me to a government hospital where I was seen to within ten minutes. If it is an emergency, I have found the government hospitals just as apt to help.  The private hospitals have certainly gone down hill fast in the last twenty years insurance or no insurance.  If you cannot afford an expensive emergency operation with medical insurance, then really, you shouldn't have medical insurance because really, medical insurance is to me, to "insure" yourself for the best service and facility; so if you're not getting it, and cannot afford the excess in an emergency - cancel it.  Government hospitals may not have the cleanest toilets or prettiest gardens but who cares, it's the insurance of a doctor you want not the view.  Rather put monthly payments in a short term investment that you can access in an emergency.  Your money will grow and will be easier than arguing a policy in casualty and the money becomes an asset to your wealth.

Car insurance is a must.  It's a must because I find the traffic in Gauteng horrendous with so many people with both their hands on their mobiles rather than on their steering wheels, bought licences which are bragged about, attempted car jacking's, theft, vandalism, etc.  You need your transport like you need oxygen as the only reliable bus service and taxi service I have found was in the Western Cape and does not cover all the areas yet although they are expanding.  I must say here that Cape Town certainly puts the rest of the country to shame with their clean city and public services.  I find I need car insurance because there are so many other irresponsible people out there and I cannot afford to lose my transport because someone hasn't learnt to drive properly or they want to steal the car because unemployment is so high or they are more busy on 'whats ap', instead of what the.....?  I need my car to do my job, to get home, to provide for my family and when things got really bad at one point, I lived out of it, sad but true.  Transport is more than just wheels, second to a job, it's a second back bone of modern existence in big cities.  Having lived in all size cities, I find that having a car and car insurance a must in Gauteng.

Funeral insurance.  Life insurance.  Debt insurance.  Also a scam.  The average cost of a cremation in South Africa is about R12 000.  Burial last time I checked, about R20 000.  These costs alone are shocking but what's more shocking is what people want to spend on their deaths.  I have the funeral insurance that just covers my needs, not to hold a party for people who never cared.  I carried life insurance until my parents died and my children were financially independent then surrendered it.  I do not see the point in providing money to children or relatives when I have already paid for their degrees, first assets etc.  They have the tools they need to get on.  They love me for me, not for what I can leave them on my death.  People will argue that it is to cover debts; here's another point, do not accumulate debt, live within your means.  You will also find if you take a student loan or real emergency debt that it comes with its own insurance, like when you buy a house, you take house insurance for the same reason, geyser bursts unexpectedly, fire, vandalism, hail storm, death - but you do not open clothing accounts to the same value of the house just to take more insurance!  So if you work out that you can put away up to R500 a month for ten years, you will save more than enough for your death, many more years away than that, putting your money in a long term investment to grow interest and pay out strictly for what it's meant for and if when you turn eighty to decide to have the biggest party ever and use it, then good for you, because money after you die is not of any use to the deceased.  The lesson in insurance is personal values versus greedy insurance companies - what is important to you?

Overall, there is more insurance sold today in South Africa than ever before with funeral cover competing for the spotlight.  Funeral insurance is sold to emotionally black mail the traditional people, people who have customs etc., pertaining to more than a dull burial, and if they can afford it, then good for them, but really, again, when my Grandmother passed away, we had to fight for the rights of her policy; so do I think it's healthy to support them when so many companies are going out of business overnight, no.  Coming from a traditional family myself, nothing showed up like the shortfalls of insurance when my Father died and I had no one to help and I turned to the insurance company who said his policy was short after thirty years of payments.  Having being desperately unemployed, my family who are not in South Africa, and I, tried to raise the difference and failed.  The funeral home still holds my Father’s remains at ransom a year later, and as I still haven't afforded to pay the difference, they deny me my closure to bury him, in fact, although traditionally we are buried in my family, my Father opted to be cremated to save on bills, and the insurance policy doesn't even cover that.  Sad for a man who paid his taxes and insurance in South Africa for over sixty years.

Household and other insurance.  I don't think we should give into the crime by barring our homes like prisons, spending half our earnings on tax to prevent crime and spending the other half on insurance to pay the criminals.  Mandela fought for freedom, so less insurance and more spending on public service to catch criminals would be better, because freedom is not having to lock yourself in a prison every night just to sleep and pay expensive insurance in case they get through the security, hurt and rob you.  We need to support the term "freedom" not make it easier for crime.  Since I moved to South Africa, the only time I have had the privilege of freedom to observe the stars has been on a farm in the Karoo.  Every other night you can be insured I was locked up.  Recently we have moved to accommodation with no burglar bars, gates or security and no household insurance.  I have nothing left to steal so I am not going to make any insurance company rich.  If they break in now, they are coming for my life and insurance is not going to save me, only my will to fight for my right to live will insure the outcome.

Insurance is about responsibility and being sensible.  My ex mother-in-law spent a fortune on insurance, but in the end, she was murdered and the only people it insured, were the insurers who gained her monthly premiums for forty years, enough money to pay her house off again. Insurance can be viewed as convenience, it buys things back, unfortunately, it cannot buy a life back, it can only try to bury the deceased according to the benefit of the insurance policy, which if you're lucky, you will not have to fight for.  So if you are materialistic and value assets above life, insurance is for you, and the more the merrier as it is convenience but it is also personal, so when you take out insurance make sure you have a written copy of the policy regardless of the ‘recorded conversation’ because if you do not demand it, someone will fail to email it, and when you want cover after months and years of debit orders, you might have failed to read the fine print.  Insure that the insurance you chose is for the reason you want it, serves you first; and adheres to the promises made; covers you in time of retrenchment, unemployment and tragedy; otherwise you are wasting your money.

Hi Angelcat,

An interesting response which effectively describes my reasons for moving to Thailand.

No more car guards, Tracking systems, burglar alarms, electric fencing. My doors and windows are wide open and I have no large fearsome dogs.

Due to the hot climate, cars are left running while shopping to keep the aircon working. Nice to step into a cool car !

You better look for a health / hospital insurance coverage outside South Africa. If you are not South African, getting those insurances locally will be difficult and could be very expensive.

As an expat I had no difficulty in obtaining health insurance. My subsequent acquisition of South African citizenship did not affect the cost or availability of health insurance. Neither did I have difficulty in making a number of transitions to more competitive health providers over a period of 43 years.

The cost and availability  of health insurance is determined by age, pre- existing conditions, current health and occupation, to name but a few ; not by nationality as your post suggests.

Hello Alan,
Yes, you are right. I did not mean that nationality was a parameter taken into account when looking for an hospital insurance. In fact, your nationality is not important at all. What I mean is that when you are 60 years old and that you arrive in South Africa to retire, getting an hospital insurance at an affordable price is very difficult not to say impossible. Again, finding a good scheme is not a problem but when it comes to the price, this is another thing.


Agreed, at age 60 you will pay a lot for in hospital cover. I arrived in South Africa at the enviable age of 29 and the rates were affordable.

I relocated to Thailand last year at age 71 and am faced with the same problem.

The cheapest hospital cover i could  find in Thailand was at a  premium of R 7,228 per month. Well outside my range of affordability.

Fortunately, Thailand is virtually crime free so I am unlikely to be a victim of assault.
I exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet of vegetables, fruit and minimal dairy products. I neither smoke or drink and I drive more carefully..
I put away a little money each month to build up an emergency fund to hopefully
cover a medical emergency.
That's the best I can do.

An elderly gentlemen I know in his seventies found himself back in South Africa and I agree, nationality is not a problem.  Gaining medical help is founded on various factors.  The only time nationality I find comes into it, is if the company you work for do or do not cover you, or if your illness is part of a for example; car accident that has hurt locals etc.  If you land up in a place like Malawi with Malaria, they will treat you there and not send you home because they realise there is no time to argue about insurance or nationality and they tell you that your home country will probably miss the Malaria and you will die before you get help.

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