How to compare funeral plans
The principle of a prepaid funeral plan is essentially quite simple and straight forward, allowing you to:
- prepare all the arrangements you wish to be made when it comes time for final farewells to all those you have loved and treasured; and
- to seal the arrangements you have planned by actually paying for them in advance.
The principle may be simple and straight forward, but there are a number of different providers in the market, so how might you compare funeral plans available?
- as with many other purchases, you may need to compare prices – what you have to pay for what you get;
- in the case of a prepaid funeral plan, though you may also need to ask about the security of the money you have paid in advance and the protection offered to ensure that it is still there when the time comes;
- if you choose a national provider of prepaid funeral plans, for instance, the money you pay is put into a trust fund administered by independent trustees or used to purchase a life insurance policy which pays out upon your death;
- if your designated firm of local funeral directors goes out of business in the intervening years, a national provider may help you switch services to an alternative firm;
- although the funeral plan provider is not immediately regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the trust funds and life insurance policies used do need to be;
Funeral Planning Authority
- a second line of defence is to ensure that any national provider of your prepaid funeral plan is also a body of the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA);
- the FPA regulates the industry and requires its members to follow a strict code of practice designed to protect customers’ interests, including an undertaking of the membership in general to find alternative solutions for the customer if one of their number becomes insolvent;
What is covered?
- to compare different funeral plans, you also need to know exactly what services are included and which might entail further expenditure on the day;
- if you are paying by instalments, how many of these need to be made and what happens in the event of your death whilst some of those instalments remain outstanding;
- the government backed Money Advice Service also suggests that you ask about what happens in the event of your deciding to cancel your prepaid funeral plan;
- this might happen, for example, if you have made advance arrangements for your spouse but subsequently separate and secure a divorce – are you entitled to a refund and under what circumstances;
- a further comparison between plans might be made according to the impact on your arrangements if the beneficiary of the plan dies away from home or whilst abroad;
- is there any provision to cover the additional costs and expenses involved in the repatriation of the remains, for example.
Arranging a prepaid funeral plan is a significant step, of course, so these and other questions might help you to compare the various providers and just what they have to offer.