What you should know about funeral plans and providers

What you should know about funeral plans and providers


Paying for a funeral is a considerable expense for many. One way of mitigating that burden is by signing up to a prepaid funeral plan, which fixes the funeral director services* at today’s prices. Here are some important points to bear in mind.

* This does not include charges such as the actual cost of burial, cremation or doctor’s fees if applicable, as these are outside the funeral director’s control.

 

A prepaid funeral plan is not the same as an Over 50 or a Life Insurance policy. An Over 50 or a Life Insurance policy will pay a lump sum on death, which can be used to pay for the funeral or may be paid into the estate. A prepaid funeral plan specifically covers some or all of the costs that enable the funeral to be carried out and allows you to plan a funeral according to your wishes.
A funeral plan specifically excludes items such as the cost of a grave and memorial headstone. Before you go ahead with any plan, check the terms carefully for what is and isn’t covered and ensure relatives or executors of the will are aware that there may be some costs to pay at the time of the funeral.
If you have a preferred funeral director in mind to carry out the service, check before purchasing any plan that it allows you to specify that funeral director. It may be possible for you to choose a funeral director who is outside the funeral provider’s network, but an additional charge could apply. If your chosen funeral director is unable to carry out the service at the time of need, an alternative funeral director will be chosen for you. Alternatively, your policy could be cancelled and a refund made.
Some plan providers allow you to make changes to your funeral plan. This may incur an administration fee and additional cost.
Not all funeral plan providers are registered with the funeral plan industry’s self-regulatory body, the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA). The FPA has a code of practice to protect consumers. About the Funeral tells you which funeral providers are registered with the FPA. If you decide to buy a plan from a provider who is not a member of the FPA, check that there is a clear complaints procedure in place and ask what will happen if your nominated funeral director or the plan provider goes out of business
FPA registered providers’ plans do not cover repatriation of the body to the UK. If you buy a plan from an FPA registered provider, it is advisable to take out a travel insurance policy that offers repatriation cover to the UK in case of death while travelling abroad.
RPI-linked contribution plans will not necessarily keep up with increases in funeral costs. Those left behind could find themselves having to pay a shortfall at the time of the funeral.
You can arrange a UK funeral plan for yourself or for someone else. You can specify who you want to receive the plan correspondence.
You don’t need a medical or need to answer medical questions in order to take out a prepaid funeral plan.
There are various payment choices available, typically ranging from a single payment to instalment periods of up to 10 years, or smaller fixed monthly payments up to age 90 or when you die (whichever is the sooner). Regular instalments over a 12-month period are usually interest-free.
Funeral plans are treated as exemptions by the Financial Control Authority, which means that funeral plan providers are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) nor can a complaint be made against them to the Financial Ombudsman. The Funeral Planning Authority (FPA) offers a conciliation service that aims to resolve any complaint or dispute that arises between a registered prepaid funeral plan provider and a customer.
Editor

Kim Bird is the founder of the comparison and review site About the Funeral and Editor of the bereavement support and funeral planning magazine, Day by Day.

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