Home Finance Insurance Insurance in South Africa
Last update on November 13, 2019

With a higher crime rate than most countries, you can expect to pay more for insurance in South Africa, whether it be life, pet, car or travel insurance. Here’s a guide to provide you with more information, including a list of South African insurance companies.

Find out which types of insurance are mandatory in South Africa, and what extra coverage you need to take out to protect your lifestyle and family while living in South Africa.

Some forms of insurance aren’t required by law in South Africa, but are worth considering anyway to further protect yourself should an emergency happen. Upon first glance, it can be difficult to understand the differences between policies in some areas, especially those with huge numbers of providers, such as health insurance and travel insurance. Here, we explain how the law works regarding each type of insurance.

Which insurance in South Africa is are legally required?

  • Car insurance: South Africa has a high accident and car theft rate, so it’s vitally important to take out insurance to protect yourself should an emergency happen.
  • Health insurance: While South Africa does have a state healthcare system, most expats tend to take out a private healthcare plan either with a provider in their own country or one in South Africa.
  • Dental insurance: The most common way to cover yourself for dental care in South Africa is to take out an insurance plan, where you pay a monthly premium to cover some of your dental costs.
  • Home insurance: Your mortgage lender will usually insist on you taking out buildings insurance when buying a home.
  • Contents insurance: Contents insurance is optional, but with high crime rates in some areas it can be a worthwhile investment.
  • Unemployment and life insurance: You’ll usually need to take out your own life insurance scheme, which will provide lump-sum coverage in the event of your death (and in some cases serious injury, too).
  • Pet insurance:  Veterinary bills can be high in South Africa,  so many pet owners opt to take out private insurance to cover major medical expenses.
  • Travel insurance: Travel insurance isn’t usually included in healthcare premiums, so you’ll need to arrange your own insurance plans on a single, multi-trip or annual basis.

Car insurance in South Africa

You can usually arrange car insurance over the phone online, but companies will sometimes follow this up by visiting you at your home to ensure you actually own the car and aren’t signing up for a false agreement.

As with other countries, a variety of things affect your car insurance quote, including the make of the car, your age, the area you’re living in, your job and how often you’re using it.

Some companies will offer a discount on your monthly premium if you have a tracking system installed in your car, and if you’re buying a new car you might be given the option to have one installed. If you’re buying a second-hand car that has a tracking system, you may need to have it tested by the provider before sorting out your insurance.

Car insurance in South Africa usually covers:

  • Liability protection: covers you against any damage or personal injury claims someone files against you if you’re at fault.
  • Uninsured motorist cover: covers you if an uninsured driver is responsible for an accident that affects you or your vehicle.
  • Theft cover: your insurer pays to repair or replace your car if it is damaged.
  • Accident repair cover: your insurer pays for repairs caused by an accident.

There are three types of car insurance in South Africa:

  • Third party liability insurance: if you cause an accident and have to compensate another party, your insurer will cover the costs.
  • Third party liability, theft and fire insurance: also covers the replacement of your vehicle if it’s stolen or damaged by fire.
  • Comprehensive insurance: also covers repairs regardless of who is at fault, and often includes roadside assistance.

Health insurance in South Africa

The public healthcare system in South Africa struggles to cope with demand, with a lack of funding and inadequate services leading many people to take out private healthcare plans.

When searching for a health insurance provider in South Africa, you’re likely to encounter a bewildering number of options, with everything from limited schemes for younger people to comprehensive cover on offer.

Life insurance South Africa

You can either choose a private provider once in South Africa, or see if a company in your existing country will offer a special expat policy. If you have one, it’s also sometimes possible to extend your current health insurance plan to cover you while in South Africa.

When searching for a healthcare provider, it pays to shop around. Avoid deals where the company has the right to cancel your policy when you reach a certain age, and steer clear of short contracts. Health insurance premiums vary significantly depending on your age, any existing illnesses and the level of cover you require.

Expat-friendly international health insurance companies operating in South Africa include:

Dental insurance in South Africa

Basic dental care is often available for those on the lowest incomes and the elderly.

Dental insurance isn’t usually included on health insurance policies, although it is sometimes possible to add it on for an extra charge.

Generally, dental insurance is paid on a monthly basis through plans offered directly from healthcare providers. These usually work on the basis of discounted fees – for example you may get 80% off treatment up to a certain sum, but you’ll often still have to pay any additional costs yourself.

Home insurance in South Africa

When you buy a home in South Africa, your mortgage lender will usually require you to take our buildings insurance, which covers the costs of rebuilding your property should the worst happen, and also covers any permanent fittings inside your house.

Travel insurance South Africa

Contents, computers and jewellery: insuring your stuff

While it’s not legally required, it’s also sensible to take out contents insurance, which will cover your belongings against theft or damage. Premiums vary significantly depending on the value of your belongings and where you’re living.

Life insurance in South Africa, unemployment and injury insurance

Life insurance in South Africa works similarly to other countries, where you pay a monthly premium to be guaranteed a lump-sum in the event of death (or in some cases serious injury).

If you’ve got life insurance already in your own country, look into whether you’ll be covered when you move to South Africa. Many international companies provide special expat cover, the usefulness of which depends on the cost and whether you’re intending on remaining in South Africa for the foreseeable future.

Pet insurance in South Africa

Domestic animal insurance in South Africa usually covers accidental injuries, illnesses (from minor ones to life threatening ones), operations, hip replacements, and in some cases emergency housing such as kennels or catteries. Some policies even include coverage for advertising if your pet goes missing.

Pet insurance South Africa

Annual check-ups and vaccinations aren’t usually covered by standard plans unless you pay extra, while pre-existing conditions, preventable diseases, hereditary illnesses, pregnancy and behavioural problems also don’t usually make the cut on standard insurance schemes.

Travel insurance in South Africa

There are dozens of travel insurance companies in South Africa, so it pays to shop around before taking the plunge. Policies are usually very flexible and can be compared online.

As with elsewhere, travel insurance premiums are affected by several issues, such as your reason for travelling, your age, and any pre-existing conditions.

For example, some companies will charge extra if you’re taking part in any extreme sports or manual labour while you’re away. Exclusions can also apply if you’re travelling to less-developed areas in Africa, or if you’re elderly.

You can get single-trip and multi-trip policies, and it’s possible to get a policy to cover your entire family. High-end policies will cover you for up to £10m of medical expenses, while even standard options should cover flight cancellations and loss of luggage.