Is Nyaradzo running a funeral assurance scam as has been claimed on social media?

Leonard Sengere Avatar

There’s been a lot of chatter about how funeral assurance services like Nyaradzo‘s are a scam on social media. I totally get where that sentiment is coming from. Let us talk about it.

One of the main arguments against funeral policies was laid out in the form of an example thus:

  • You pay US$20.57 per month in premiums
  • Per year that’s $246.84
  • After 30 years you would have paid $7405.20 in premiums
  • If you died, it would cost Nyaradzo $300 to provide your family with a coffin and it would cost them $500 in fuel to transport the body and mourners to the burial site.
  • The argument is that you would have contributed $7400 in premiums and yet it would only cost Nyaradzo $800 to bury you. Meaning wakabirwa (they stole from you) $6600.

We can even add that the insurer is up way more than $6600 after all is said and done. When you pay your premiums, Nyaradzo doesn’t lock that cash up in a vault or put it under a mattress in the CEO’s bedroom, they invest it.

They combine your premiums and mine and invest in whatever makes sense and they are good at it. They grow that cash massively. So, on just your lifetime premiums of $7400, they would have made much more in return.

The argument is too simplistic though

Yes, it costs the insurer less to bury you than you contributed but that’s not the full story.

The premiums vs payout figures

First, let’s go over the example given. At Nyaradzo, the cheapest policy that will provide transport, both for the body and mourners and a casket, costs around $6.99. So, the example above assumes a policy that has 3 dependants. That means for the individual, the premiums after 30 years would be $2516.40.

That’s still less than what it will cost Nyaradzao to bury you though.

On the payouts Nyaradzo makes, the example did not mention that the policy also comes with a $200 grocery allowance. So, we can add that to the ‘$800 to bury you’ that had been calculated. Making for a payout of $1000 after premiums of $2516.40. Still good business for Nyaradzo but nowhere near the differential given in the example above.

The casket figure of $300 sounds about right and the $500 fuel amount is actually generous. If we work with a 30l per 100km efficiency, Nyaradzo won’t use anywhere close to $500 in fuel. However, once we factor in maintenance, staff costs etc, we can leave the $500 figure be.

Untimely deaths

Then there is the assumption that you are somehow guaranteed 30 years on earth. The example above paints the best-case scenario for Nyaradzo where customers pay up faithfully and live into their 100s. That’s not quite how it works in practice.

Life expectancy in Zimbabwe is now a respectable 62 years. Some exceed that and some don’t get anywhere close. So Nyaradzo will also have customers for whom the math works out like this:

  • Monthly premiums – $6.99
  • Per year – $83.88
  • They die in year 7 after paying $587.16 in premiums
  • Nyaradzo pays out $1000 to bury them
  • Therefore they steal $412.84 from Nyaradzo

You will have noted that with premiums of $6.99 per person per month, Nyaradzo will need a person to pay their premiums faithfully for 12 years before they can say premiums collected exceed the cost to bury.

That’s okay though because that’s how it all works. Insurance is like an emergency pot that many people contribute to and payouts are made according to need. Some will put in way more than they get back whilst some will get way more than they put in.

Insurance is the most communist thing there is in capitalist societies. However, you can clearly see that seeing as we are not guaranteed tomorrow, knowing that if you die within 12 years of contributing to a policy, Nyaradzo will top up your ‘burial savings’ is actually not as bad as the example above made it seem.

The 3-month waiting period

When you first join a policy, Nyaradzo will only honour the policy after 3 months of contributing premiums. For some reason, there is an argument that this is unfair. I don’t get that argument at all.

Are we saying when I join that policy, after contributing just $6.99 in 1 month, Nyaradzo should be compelled to give me a $1000 burial?

We are saying that even with the 3-month waiting period, Nyaradzo would only have received less than $21 from you if you die then. They will still have to bury you for $1000. I know they are good at investing but they would not have grown that $21 into $1000 in three months.

It’s a horrible deal for Nyaradzo but it works out because there would be another customer in year 18 of contributing who is still as strong as an ox somewhere.

So, I can’t get myself to hate the 3 month waiting period. I get it.

The issue of lapsing of policies

The main issue that was raised is that of Nyaradzo policies lapsing if a customer does not pay their premiums for 3 straight months. That is true, that’s how insurance companies operate.

For many policies, it doesn’t matter how long you would have contributed premiums, if you miss your payments for 3 months the policy will be set aside. It will not be honoured.

They say if you miss payments you can have it renewed but you will be subjected to a 3-month waiting period again.

Let’s say you’re in year 14 of contributing and you fall upon some hard times and fail to honour your premium payments for 4 months. If, God forbid, something happened then, Nyaradzo will kick you out of their building emptyhanded.

I cannot get behind this. I understand that if there is no penalty for missing premium payments then people would miss payments like nobody’s business. However, does the penalty have to be the lapsing of the policy for 3 months?

A possible but problematic solution

My solution would be to say, if someone has contributed faithfully for a certain period, their policy should never lapse. They should instead get a chance to pay up their premium arrears, with interest of course. Even if a death has happened, the policyholder should be allowed to bring their premiums up to date and then proceed to get service.

Let’s look at it from Nyaradzo’s point of view though. If people are allowed to just decide to stop paying premiums, people would join and pay for 3 months and then stop. Then if something happens, they would then show up to Nyaradzo offices and pay up the $6.99 arrears and proceed to demand a $1000 burial.

However, what if we said one would have to have contributed for at least 3 years to get that benefit? Or 9, or 12? Would that work? I don’t know.

It is not a good argument to say that once one’s premiums have exceeded the payout they will receive they should be allowed to stop paying premiums and still be entitled to a payout.

If we made that argument then we would be forced to say no one should get a payout until their premiums exceed the payout they will get. And as we saw, at $6.99 per month, that would take 12 years. The 3 month waiting period after the lapsing of a policy doesn’t sound as bad now, right?

But I still hate it.

Insurance/assurance as a concept

Policies like these allow you to get service for which you contributed little in the first years of joining. Should you not need a payout in those first few years, you will eventually pay more than you will get back.

However, you just have to look at the surplus of premiums over payouts as the price for the peace of mind you had before year 12 in our case. Because before year 12 you knew you would get service exceeding what you contributed.

Regarding this whole discussion, Nyaradzo put out a statement that was, to be kind, terrible. They essentially just said funeral assurance policies have helped people for generations so we can’t question how they are set up.

I think we have every right to discuss the policies as presently constructed and see if we cannot improve on them. The issue of lapsing policies is a serious one. For some reason, people who have contributed faithfully for years will get deaths in the family in just the 4th month of missing payments.

I think the Insurance and Pensions Commission should sit down with the insurance companies and see if they can’t find a solution to that problem. We can’t just say, well it’s on them for not paying their premiums. And we can’t tell the insurers to honour all policies, even those that have been neglected for years.

The bright minds over there should be able to come up with something that works.

Also read:

Negative balance on your Liquid Home (ZOL) account likely from modem insurance which has increased

Not changing car ownership will mean no insurance payout

Local insurance firm now has policies & coverage for drones



What’s your take?

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  1. D.K.

    Unfortunately, someone should have pressed the country’s reset button after independence. Modern day youths and some adults do not know anything about insurance. What these people need to do is put their smartphones away and sit with someone who lived in the era when insurance was operational. Ask to understand what whas called hire purchase where people would buy big household items over a 3 or 5 year period. Understand where insurance was used for such agreements and you may understand this issue with funeral insurance. We need to understand why it is important to stock to and honour the agreements we make, lest we feel like we are being cheated or sanctioned when we break the promise we voluntarily made.

  2. Donkey Kong

    Inini ndukutoda kuziwa nexve 3rd party insurance companies dzemota dziya dzinosenza sei uye zvaita sei coz ndakakweshera mota yemunhu iyo 3rd party insurance ikaramba apa ndizvo zvainonzi inobatsira nazvo..saka basa rayo ndereyi uye unozowana rubatsiro zvaita sei

    1. Simba

      3rd party are a difficult interms of claiming because you find if you have no police report then you cant claim . Also you cant claim above the max payout for 3rd party insurance which could be like 200usd or less otherwise if you have complaints aganist your insurer, you can report to Insurance Council of zimbabwe they will advise on the way forward

      1. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

        All vehicle insurance policies require a police report to claim.

  3. Unknown

    Is EcoSure worthwhile for those who participate considering the ZWL?

    1. Drupe

      to be honest in this modern day Zim of high rising inflation rate ZWL is not the bust suited mode for transacting. I dont see any problem in ecosure policies because they are well open for most policies and i would recommend the USD option

  4. Tawanda

    Hi Leonard, Mdara Mataranyika should hire you

  5. Ruf

    The fact of the matter is there is absolutely no trust in insurance at all just like the banks. They have taken advantage of the situation when they were actively investing it.they went and bought half of zim.then they claim devaluation on assets.yet these are sold again in USD
    Ipec themselves have said insurance companies are separating their accounts and then claiming losses. Same goes for medical aids as soon as the rate moves they hike subscriber tariffs yet they don’t move swiftly on hiking provider tariffs,hence there will always be shortfalls. Literally a 3 month delay…. Where is the regulators in all this. They turn a blind eye. At the end of the day is fine formed out own local insurance…it’s we have 2 families with say 10ppl
    Each contributes 5uad per one year it’s already 600 and 2yrs 1200usd
    That will easily cover 2 and half deaths..
    Same goes for medical aid…in an emergency you looking at 10k…. Surely we can have our own savings account and accumulate in 3yrs overs 10yrs
    The insurance is literally the middle man who never pay more that you contributed

  6. 2434

    Oppurtunity for banks to to have fixed savings account that will hold the value and everyone contributes in families then we the money is needed they pay directly.innovation and disruption

  7. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

    The problem with this analysis is that it’s treating funeral policies as a savings scheme, matching contributions against burial costs. If you analyse anything that way, even rent is scam as you will probably pay more than the property’s value in just over 10 years of stay.

    It is also not an insurance policy, it is an assurance policy. If you are fortunate, or unfortunate (depending your perspective) you might never make a claim on your vehicle or medical aid insurance throughout your whole life. With funeral assurance, you are assured to die. Absent defaulting on your contributions, you are guaranteed to make a claim on your policy.

    You also cannot have your cake and eat it too. If you want to save $6.99 a month, do so. Put it in a strong box under your bed. Then when you surpass the burial cost, you can party on the excess liquidity you will now possess! Or, establish a funeral policy and pay your subs.

    1. How

      Safeguard the value of your stash; buy gold coins?

  8. Czar

    All the hype about insurance companies stealing from people is wrong, credit should be given to these guys for making funeral/ burial easy. However they is need kuti at least someone has paid faithfully his/her premiums for a period more than 10-12 years that person haacha faniri kuramba achibhadhara, however I understand they is considering economic conditions, inflation and stuff

    1. Maybe One Day

      Competitive landscape here is trash. In other places, companies try to outdo each other with value adds, policy upgrades and cashbacks.

  9. R. C

    Insurance companies steal from us, that’s all.

  10. 21st century

    These organisations take advantage of our hard earned money

    But citizens now know bettet and we prepare for these events

  11. Anonymous

    Its a total scam and it’s unfortunate our government won’t intervene..i mean the relevant departments and stop this nonsense 🗑🚮

    1. Drupe

      they wont intervene because these guys operate at the basis of “if the customer is happy about our services then there is no problem”

  12. Hersto

    Its a total scam and it’s unfortunate our government won’t intervene..i mean the relevant departments and stop this nonsense 🗑🚮

  13. The Nerd

    Seems like Leonard’s argument is the last nail in the coffin of those who argue to the contrary.

  14. Nitpik

    You make a valid argument, in a functional economy the job of insurance companies and other financial intermediaries is to manage risk effectively and efficiently. That is why there is a profit motive. There is nothing communist about modern day insurance (see 2009 sub-prime mortgage crash) I get it but the distinction matters. Nyaradzo and co have found a model that works in a tough market so they are sticking to it, somewhat at the consumers expense but that’s how the invisible hand works. Same with these licensed banks who have no incentive to innovate and rely on squeezing bank charges out of a largely informal market. Also worth pointing out that most zimbos have a nyaradzo policy and no health insurance (might as well hire me to give you guys ideas for content).

  15. Anonymous

    In other regions, I’ve heard of conditional cash kickbacks given to long term policy holders as an incentive to keep the holders invested in the program, just not here in Zimbabwe

    1. Anonymous

      I agree with you, our neighbors in SA. Insurance companies get cash back of 20 % on premiums of 5 claim free years. And that’s an incentive

  16. Emmanuel

    The issue with nyaradzo tainzwa but the only way is they must look back on the client’s period and give him a chance to pay out his or her depts so that they will not throw him out

  17. Prince

    EcoSure pays an amount 1000 times your premium, and you can choose to get the money or get services.
    As such it is worth it as it directly co-relates to your monthly premium multiplied by one thousand.
    The practical usefulness can only be measured at a particular point in time, but for now it’s relevant and useful.
    If they diligently adjust premiums and benefits to keep up with inflation it will remain useful, but still, as of now, receiving a benefit that equals 83 years worth of premiums sounds pretty good.

  18. Nyasha Mupaso

    Excellent article social media debates are too shallow and they are emotional too not logical

  19. Nyasha Mupaso

    Let me say the a shine arguments a hilarious I would conclude that those who think Nyaradzo us stealing from them must stop using it and save that $6.99 for their funeral, also don’t compare Zim with other countries here risk is too much and too much instability. Competition is not there coz no one want to invest here

  20. Nyasha Mupaso

    Let me say the arguments, esp in comments section are hilarious I would conclude that those who think Nyaradzo us stealing from them must stop using it and save that $6.99 for their funeral, also don’t compare Zim with other countries here risk is too much and too much instability. Competition is not there coz no one want to invest here