How to compare funeral plans

Buying a prepaid funeral plan – for yourself or on behalf of a loved one – is one way of helping to ensure that your final send-off goes the way you intended and that payment in advance saves your family the financial burden.

By paying at today’s prices, you may also beat the rampant inflation currently affecting rising funeral costs and taking the cost of dying in the UK up to an average total of £4,078 (an increase of 112% since 2004) – according to Sun Life’s annual study for 2017.

With such potentially large sums at stake, the wide variation in services provided and the increasing number of providers currently in the market, it may be essential to compare funeral plans very carefully before you commit to a purchase.

What do funeral plans cover?

When you compare funeral plans, probably the most important consideration is just what is covered.

Many funeral plans are sold on the premise that the whole of your funeral costs are covered. This is also the clear implication given by sources such as Citizens’ Advice.

That is by no means the case, however. It is not only the cost of the funeral director’s services which need to be taken into account but additional charges such as burial or cremation fees, floral tributes, limousines and reception facilities that may also leave your family and friends needing to foot at least part of the bill.

It has led to some consumer groups – such as Fairer Finance, reported in the Guardian newspaper on the 8th of July 2017 – complaining that some prepaid funeral plans are in danger of being mis-sold.

If you compare funeral plans with sufficient care, you may avoid any such misunderstanding. Instead, you may confirm exactly what services provided by your chosen funeral director are guaranteed and whether – as in some cases – cremation fees and those of the minister conducting the funeral service are also guaranteed, together with a fixed rate contribution towards additional charges (such as burial fees).

The Funeral Planning Authority (FPA)

If you compare funeral plans, you may also identify those providers who are members of the industry’s regulatory body the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA).

Members are bound by a Code of Conduct which, amongst a number of other conditions, insists that funeral plan providers safeguard consumers’ financial interests by paying money received for any prepaid funeral plan into an independent trust fund or applied to the purchase of a whole of life insurance policy in the plan-holder’s name.

Payment options

Your payment options may also become more transparent and better informed when you compare funeral plans to find out how you may pay for your chosen plan. Although a single one-off prepayment might be the easiest to compare, for instance, what amount are you likely to be paying on credit interest charges if you decide to spread the payments over an extended period?

Some providers offer extended credit-free payment options that may be made in equal monthly instalments over a whole year – only adding interest charges if you opt to pay over two or more years (with some plans allowing the option of paying over as long as 25 years).