Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Can I borrow from my life policy? I have two life policies with 1Life: one for my wife and one for myself. I am currently unemployed. I asked 1Life if I could borrow against my policy and take a six-month break from paying premiums, but it refused both requests, claiming that my policies would lapse. Please help defend my rights.

Name withheld

Laurence Hillman, MD of 1Life, responds:

1Life's policies are pure risk policies that cover you for insured events such as loss of life, disability and dread disease.

There are no investments attached to this type of policy, nor are there surrender values.

At 1Life, we do not offer payment holidays, but you have the option to reduce your cover and premium by contacting our call centre.

You can increase your cover again when you can afford to do so.

You are also free to cancel the policy, but this is the least favourable option: it means forsaking cover.

While you can always reinstate your policy, you might be subject to underwriting. Higher premiums might also be incurred and waiting periods might apply to certain policies.

All this depends on how long you wait to reinstate your policy.

At 1Life, premiums are payable monthly in advance by debit order and for as long as the payment-term section of your policy schedule states. On most of our policies this is for your whole life.

If a payment is not received within 30 days of the normal deduction date, your cover will be suspended immediately.

We make every effort to keep you covered by attempting to collect arrear premiums, and will inform you in writing and via SMS should your premium
be unpaid.

We will also inform you of the process to recover any outstanding premiums.

After three nonpayments, the policy might be cancelled. Premiums paid to date will not be refunded.


How do I get into property development? I am a student at Unisa and have an interest in real estate, particularly the rental housing market. I would like to explore business opportunities in the construction of affordable housing. However, all I see in newspapers are adverts for houses to rent in expensive areas. Yet there are people in townships who need to rent. Not everyone in my area can afford to pay rent of R3500 or more a month. How can I find or create accommodation for such people?

Tsholofelo Kunene, Villa Liza near Boksburg

Ricardo Teixeira, chief operating officer of BDO Wealth, responds:

Affordable housing is a burning social issue in any developing country. South Africa is not alone in its challenges of meeting the demand for affordable accommodation.

A number of nodes of affordable housing have developed throughout our country.

 

One interesting trend in the supply of affordable housing is the concept of "co-living spaces". These are residential buildings designed to incorporate shared facilities like kitchens, living areas and even bathrooms. This is a low-cost rental solution in good locations, providing quality and security for its residents.

As an aspiring property developer, you could create new solutions for the shortage in affordable housing by understanding the unique characteristics and requirements of your preferred market. Your starting point is to quantify the affordability of rent in your chosen location and market. This sets your threshold for income.

With that as the top line on your income statement, you need to engineer what you could build, redevelop or refurbish to provide housing at that level of rental.

This is the cost of development.

Through this balancing act of capital outlay against possible income return, your unique business model will evolve and create a housing solution for the market you are catering for.

It is always best to approach industry mentors. Reach out to developers of affordable housing across South Africa and ask them to share their learnings with you. You will be pleasantly surprised at the response.


Is my PC safer than my cellphone? I have been using internet banking via my home computer for the past 10 years and find it convenient and effective. Due to continuous media coverage of SIM swap fraud, I have been reluctant to switch over to my cellphone. However, in recent seminars by Absa, the bank has claimed that its new banking app is fraud proof. My natural scepticism caused me to check this boast with independent experts.

Koos van Wyk

Keegan Ackerman, account manager at IT security firm ESET, responds:

A mobile device is generally more secure than a personal computer.

Not only have banking apps been designed with security in mind, all apps have to be vetted by Google Play (if your device is an Android product) or by the iStore (if it is an Apple product).

While there are malicious apps out there, it is not likely that you will be able to download these - unless you have tampered with the software on your phone, or allowed installation from unknown sources in the settings of an Android device.

Download your bank's app directly from your App Store.

If you are going to use a banking app, make sure you have a screen lock on your cellphone. This should help protect you if your phone is stolen. The password you use to access your banking app must not be used for any other apps.

You also need to be discriminating about the non-banking apps you install on your cellphone, as well as the permissions that apply to these apps.

Do not give them unnecessary permissions, such as permission to access your images or make calls.

There is antivirus software you can install on your cellphone, but if you have an Apple phone you should be safe - as long as you update the software on your phone when prompted to do so and regularly update your apps.

Additionally, make sure your phone's browser does not automatically input your passwords or usernames for you; and switch off your Bluetooth function when it is not in use.

This will stop unmonitored wireless activity on your phone.

Be sure not to use public Wi-Fi for banking as you never know who is watching.

When you use a PC, it is very easy to pick up on "drive-by downloads".

This is malware downloaded onto your computer without your knowledge while you are surfing the internet.

The purpose of this malware is to steal your personal information.

Your first line of defence is up-to-date antivirus software.

Good software costs as little as R400 a year for one user (one device), and some companies will throw in a banking and payment-protection app that encrypts your browser to make it secure even in the event of malware accessing your PC.

When you do banking on your PC, always look out for the lock icon in the URL or the "s" in "https". These are indications that you are in a secure browser.

Remember, the advice that applies in the physical world also applies online.

Be careful where you go: if you hang out on dangerous sites, you are more likely to pick up viruses.

With most antivirus products, you can set your update intervals, so make sure you are updating daily. It is an automatic process and, since the updates are generally small, they will not eat your bandwidth.

Although the free antivirus software provided by banks to their customers should give you reasonable protection, it will not be as good as the products for which you pay.

Cybercriminals will create viruses that target software that is known to have less security in place. 

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