Money and Markets

There’s R33.5 billion waiting to be claimed in SA – and claims on that money never prescribe

Business Insider SA

  • South Africa has R33.5 billion worth of unclaimed assets as of 31 December 2021, according to ASISA.
  • The money is owed to policyholders, beneficiaries, investors, and heirs who are either not aware of the policies or have not claimed for whatever reason.
  • By end of December 2020, ASISA reported R32.2 billion in assets that had not been claimed.
  • Its member companies managed to pay out R22.7 billion to legal owners.
  • For more stories go to

Unclaimed assets in South Africa reached R33.5 billion in South Africa by end of 2021, according to the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa (ASISA).

The association represents asset managers, collective investment scheme management companies, linked investment service providers, multi-managers, and life insurance companies.

The money is owed to policyholders, beneficiaries, investors, and heirs who are either not aware of policies or have not claimed for unknown reasons.

“When customers reach an advanced age, for example, our members cannot make the assumption that they have died.

“They may be alive and well and wanting their policies and investments to remain in place, or they may have passed away and their beneficiaries and heirs were unaware that a policy or investment existed,” said senior policy advisor at ASISA Rosemary Lightbody.

By 31 December 2020, R22.7 billion had been paid to on 77,790 policies, thanks to tracing efforts, ASISA said.

Where will the assets go?  

According to Lightbody, ASISA member companies cannot cancel an individual’s right to claim an unpaid amount, irrespective of how long it takes for them to claim.

This is because member companies have agreed to waive their rights in terms of the Prescription Act, which would normally allow them to cancel the beneficiary’s right to claim a debt after three years.

According to ASISA Standard on Unclaimed Assets:

  • A customer’s right to an unclaimed asset remains until the claim is paid or the asset returned, regardless of the timeframe.
  • Unclaimed assets should not become the property of the product provider or its shareholders. (This does not apply to retirement annuity policies and preservation fund products, which are dealt with in terms of the Pension Funds Act).

The standards further encourages member companies to do their best in reminding customers of their entitlement to assets after trigger events.

Trigger events include a policy reaching its maturity date, a risk benefit claim having been approved, communication being marked as undelivered, or a customer reaching the age of 80.

Here’s what may happen to your money:

  • Once an ASISA member company concludes that all reasonable efforts to trace the customer, heirs or beneficiaries have been exhausted over a three-year period, the assets may be utilised for socially responsible investments with commercial returns such as Enterprise Supplier Development Funds.
  • However, valid claims in respect of those assets will still be met. For products where the investment risk is carried by the company, the company may invest unclaimed assets as it deems appropriate.

“Where the customer, heir or beneficiary would carry the investment risk, the company must aim for investment returns in line with reasonable expectations,” according to ASISA.

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