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Will you be covered if you die overseas?


Travelling overseas can be the best experience of your life. Perhaps you plan to go base-jumping in Norway and quad biking along the Namibian dunes, or maybe you prefer exotic spa days and cocktails on the beach.

Whatever your itinerary, you need to consider the risks of travelling abroad. Even a seemingly calm holiday may not go as planned, and you could find yourself injured, or even worse, in a fatal accident.  

But what would this mean for your loved ones back home? Will they still benefit from the life cover you’ve been paying towards for years?

This is what happens if you die abroad

According to Section 19 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act No. 51 of 1992, “If any person who is lawfully and permanently resident in the Republic dies outside the Republic, his or her death shall be registered in terms of the provisions of this Act on the strength of a death certificate or other similar documents issued by the authority concerned in the country in which the death occurred.”

In other words, if you pass away overseas, this must be reported to the closest South African embassy in order to have an official death certificate produced by the host country. A certified copy of this will then be sent to the South African embassy. 

A death certificate is particularly important if your loved ones need to claim from your life cover policy. It’s the most critical part of the required documentation.

Note that life cover will only be in effect for holidays of three months or less. If you pass away after having been abroad for longer, it’s possible your life cover may not pay out. However, this time frame may vary depending on your unique policy. Before leaving the country, always check the terms and conditions of your life cover policy.

How will your loved ones know what to do?

According to the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation, your next of kin will receive assistance with the following:

  • Getting a permit from the department of health to import your body.
  • Contacting reputable undertakers in the foreign country.
  • Arranging quotes for transportation, cremation, and burial in the foreign country – if that’s what your loved ones prefer. 
  • Offering information on local conditions and procedures regarding the cause of death.

However, your family’s first point of call must always be to your various covers. They should find out whether you were covered by travel insurance to help cover your medical bills, funeral cover to take care of the funeral itself, and life cover to take care of their future when you’re gone.

At SmartInsure, we want to make sure your loved ones are always taken care of. Beyond the administration and costs at the time of your passing, we care about their future too.  

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