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n Tydskrif vir die Suid-Afrikaanse Reg - Die regte van lewensversekeringsbegunstigdes
Die benoeming van 'n begunstigde op jou lewensversekeringspolis is 'n goeie meganisme om voorsiening te maak vir die risiko wat jou dood tot gevolg mag hê. Die opbrengs van die polis kan die naasbestaandes help om uitgawes en skulde te dek. Die begunstigde se regte is egter beperk en die begunstigde kan nie die opbrengs van die polis benut voor die tyd daarvoor reg is nie. Wanneer die versekerde in sy lewensversekeringspolis 'n begunstigde benoem om die voordeel by sy dood te kry, word daar 'n reg vir die begunstigde in die lewensversekeringskontrak geskep. Die vrae ontstaan watter spesifieke regte vir die begunstigde geskep word en wanneer die begunstigde hierdie regte verkry. Vir die bespreking word aangeneem dat hier slegs sprake is van 'n herroepbare benoeming vir die opbrengs van die polis.
The right of a life insurance beneficiary
The life insurance contract exists between the insurer and the insured. The insured may, however, name a beneficiary on the policy to receive the proceeds at the death of the insured. In South Africa, this situation is assumed to be a stipulatio alteri. It is the aim of the contract for the benefit of a third party that the third party must acquire a right from the contract. What this right is and when the beneficiary acquires this right is, however, not so clear. It is suggested that the right can only be acquired after the death of the insured. Before this happens, the beneficiary can only hope that he will gain access to the proceeds of the policy. In order to investigate the rights of the beneficiary, a clearer understanding of the South African law of the stipulatio alteri is necessary. It seems that the South African stipulatio alteri deviates from what is seen as a true contract for the benefit of a third party. There exist three trains of thought on the nature of the contract for the benefit of a third party. The first approach is the one-contract approach. This approach views the stipulatio alteri as one contract between the insurer and the insured, but that on acceptance, the beneficiary replaces the insured as contract party. The two-contract approach is of the view that there are two separate contracts, one between the insurer and the insured, and the other between the beneficiary and the insurer. The three-party contract approach is that there is only one contract, but that there are three parties to the contract ab initio, eg the insurer, the insured and the beneficiary. A new approach is necessary, which is in line with a true contract in favour of a third party. The contract in favour of a third party is designed to provide the beneficiary with a right to the proceeds of the policy upon the death of the insured. There is confusion regarding when these rights vest and what rights the beneficiary acquires. It is suggested in this article that before the death of the policy holder (insured) the beneficiary only has a hope that he will remain the beneficiary at the death of the insured. It is impossible for the beneficiary to accept any stipulation made in his favour at that time as the insured can change the beneficiary nomination at free will before his death. It is only upon the death of the insured that the beneficiary acquires a contingent right in the contract. This right is contingent only upon the acceptance by the beneficiary, and no other condition. When the beneficiary accepts the stipulation made in his favour, he acquires a vested and full right to the proceeds of the policy.
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