Tombstone unveiling costs – are you covered?

By Danielle van Wyk

Funerals are notoriously expensive, but the costs don’t end there. “Consumers who don’t adequately plan for post funeral expenses may find themselves having to borrow money to cover tombstone unveiling costs,” stated Lee Bromfield, CEO of FNB Life.

“Post funeral expenses can cost up to 50% of the initial funeral expense and can put significant financial pressure on dependants. Many people overlook this expense when taking out funeral cover, resulting in tombstone unveiling costs being paid out of pocket or through loans,” Bromfield added.

A tombstone unveiling is considered an important ceremony used to remember and honour the life and final resting place of a deceased loved one.

What does a tombstone unveiling entail?

The funeral and tombstone unveiling are typically two separate events. “Funerals will be more of an emergency whilst tombstone unveilings will be more mid to long term events,” added Thabo Hallo, head of consumer financial education at Nedbank.

When a family is dealing with the loss of a loved one, it becomes challenging to plan for the funeral and tombstone unveiling at the same time, as the latter usually doesn’t take preference until the grieving process ends. “Organising this type of ceremony can be expensive as families have to cater for tombstone costs, transport for family members, food and catering, flowers and tents, among other expenses,” stated Bromfield.

FNB Life further added that these costs could set families back financially if it was not factored in when taking out funeral insurance.

 “It is advisable for consumers to consider the tombstone unveiling costs immediately when taking out funeral insurance or reviewing their cover. This should be followed by a broader discussion with their family or dependants on the type of tombstone unveiling they would prefer and whether the cover allocated will be enough,” said Bromfield. This goes a long way in helping a family plan and budget for the tombstone unveiling ceremony without worrying about costs.

“Having to borrow money or paying from your own pocket to cater for tombstone unveiling costs defeats the purpose of having funeral insurance, as the cover was initially taken out to ensure that those left behind do not carry the financial burden,” explained Bromfield.

Costs of tombstones

The cost of tombstones are increasingly expensive. Depending on the amount that the clients are willing to spend, the tombstones themselves also range from concrete to marble, with size differences too.

FNB pegs them at ranging anywhere between R4000 to R35 000. While the more extravagant ones can range up to R200 000.

“Expect to pay anywhere from R5 000 for a basic tombstone to up to R200 000 for an elaborate marble stone with gold plated trimmings. An average stone with granite and sand blasting can typically retail at R20 000,” stated Hallo.

Avbob funeral services offer tombstone products as part of their core business and quoted: “For a basic solid slab tombstone, you are looking at anywhere between R15 000 – R20 000. Costs, however, cover quite a bit. This is inclusive of the permit that one needs from the local municipality to put up the tombstone, the transport costs and also the lettering,” stated Avbob. For the fancier double tombstones one could expect to pay anything from R35 000 and up.

These costs are usually not what many budget for. “Unveiling costs can be very expensive, and in my opinion the average South African household cannot afford this off-hand, and would typically have to save money over several months or years to cover all the necessary costs. Some might even resort to taking out debt to cover the costs,” stated Tapuwa Mwashita, financial planner for Insurance Busters. Here is where people usually turn to their funeral plans, but does this provide the necessary cover?

Does your funeral policy cover the cost of the unveiling?

Nedbank’s funeral cover is structured to provide access to cash. “It is up to the clients to use the cash to cover their expenses including tombstones and other funeral related expenses. Cover ranges from R5000 to R50 000 depending on the client needs,” Hallo added.

Other funeral cover providers like 1Life offer this cover benefit as a standard feature with their funeral products. The cover is valued at a set R5000 and can be utilised for anyone over the age of 14 that is included in the funeral cover.

FNB similarly makes provision for this as a part of their structured funeral cover product, so upon application applicants can decide as to the provision for these expenses too.

Insurance Busters on the other hand does not cover the cost of the unveiling. “Our product is a standard product with no additional benefits such as a tombstone benefit. Unfortunately, you cannot request this as an additional feature at the moment,” added Mwashita.

“Through financial education interventions, people and communities are encouraged to save for emergencies and set financial goals that include eventualities such as funeral and unveiling of tombstones. With this, our intention is to get the people prepared for such as not to overspend on such events,” said Hallo.

Justmoney thinks

Funeral products differ, where some providers may make provision for costs like the unveiling others don’t, and for those that do make provision often it only scrapes the tip of the iceberg in terms of costs. This is why it is vital that you understand the policy you are applying for and through the assistance of a trusted financial planner make sure that it is suited to your needs.

Handy tip: If you are in need of funeral cover, apply through Justmoney today.

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