As South Africa continues to grapple with a second wave of COVID-19 infections, ICMIF member AVBOB, a funeral service and funeral insurance provider, is taking a proactive approach in alleviating some of the financial burden on individuals who need to lay their loved ones to rest.
Towards this end, AVBOB says it has saved its policyholders and private clients a combined ZAR 7 million from July to the end of December 2020 through the initial provision of free PPE for its staff conducting funerals. This benefit has been extended and will be provided until 31 March 2021.
AVBOB scales branch infrastructure
The rapid increase in new COVID-19 infections and mortality during this second wave has placed immense pressure on South Africa’s funeral industry. However, since the pandemic arose in 2020, AVBOB says it has implemented numerous measures to accommodate these challenges and ensure that their private clients and policyholders can still be assured a dignified farewell.
AVBOB’s frontline workers are under immense pressure to attend to the funeral needs of families who have lost loved ones. This has resulted in certain AVBOB branches taking the initiative to extend their business hours into late evening time and also to erect tents outside selected branches to further facilitate servicing clients more efficiently, since only limited numbers of clients can be allowed inside the branches due to COVID-19 restrictions. AVBOB says it is taking every possible measure to alleviate the challenges that may seem insurmountable to those who are grieving.
This increased pressure has also resulted in an increased demand for coffins. According to AVBOB’s General Manager for Corporate Affairs, Adriaan Bester, AVBOB has made the necessary preparations nationally to meet the greater demand since they manufacture their own coffins, caskets and other funeralware at AVBOB Industries in Bloemfontein.
AVBOB has also recognised the importance of applying innovative and cost-effective strategies that directly benefit their policyholders and private clients. As part of the Group’s plan to deal with the spike in mortality during the first wave, AVBOB introduced container mortuaries. The container mortuaries are converted from refrigerator “reefer” containers with their own cooling system and modified to include mortuary racks, lighting, ramp and a standby generator. “We have produced 22 units of the container mortuaries into the market, which have been distributed around the country, and we are in the process of equipping additional units to further increase this capacity,” highlights Bester. “These container mortuaries enable us to deploy additional functionality to facilities under pressure from the growing demands of COVID-19.” AVBOB will continue to implement viable solutions that benefit their policyholders and private clients as everyone faces the impacts of this pandemic together.
This has been further demonstrated through the uninterrupted provision of free member funeral benefits* by AVBOB Funeral Service, that saved its policyholders an additional ZAR 170 million from the beginning of July to the end of December 2020. Qualifying policyholders and members of the society will continue to reap these free funeral benefits – a funeral valued at ZAR 12,000, a ZAR 2,500 immediate cash payment for initial expenses, and free transport of the deceased within the borders of South Africa – in the coming year.
AVBOB says it plans to continue to innovate to ensure that the mutual meets its brand promise of “We’re here for you®” for clients throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.