Let’s say you need a new car. Do you pull in to the first lot you see, buy the first car you test-drive, and accept the sticker price without question?
Of course not. When we shop for cars, we talk to salespeople (and our friends and family), drive different vehicles, consult consumer magazines, and negotiate the price. If a specific make or model has a bad reputation or is priced too high, we walk away and look for a different car. We want a good car at the right price, and we’re willing to do some homework to get it.
We do the same kind of comparison shopping for smaller purchases – computers, for instance, or large appliances like washers and dryers. We know doing a little research will get us the features we want for the price we’re willing to pay.
So why is it we don’t price shop funeral costs? The cost of a funeral with a burial or cremation is just as expensive – sometimes more expensive – than other big purchases we make in life. Yet every year, thousands of families pay the “sticker price” when they bury their loved ones.
The average cost of a funeral
It’s understandable that people grieving a recent death would struggle to do a comprehensive search for funeral homes and various costs. But with the National Funeral Directors Association estimating the average cost of a funeral with cremation at about $6,000 and the median cost of a funeral with burial at about $8,500 (neither price includes a burial plot or such things as flowers or limousines), the stakes – or the savings – can be substantial.
"In many cases, people just haven't thought about a funeral," said Cheryl Reed, a spokeswoman for the review site Angie's List, in a CNBC article on funeral pricing. "So, they're dealing with their grief at the same time they're dealing with these decisions. It's hard to be a great shopper."
With proper planning, you can actually reduce some of the stress and financial responsibilities on your family members when you die. An increasing number of people are making plans in advance to cover their funeral costs, not only to ease the burden on those left behind but also to ensure their final wishes will be taken care of.
Important questions to ask when shopping for funeral services
Whether the need is immediate or you are planning for the future, one of the most important questions you can ask is whether a funeral home is independent or is owned by a corporation. A 2017 report from the Consumer Federation of America and the Funeral Consumers Alliance surveyed prices of 103 independent funeral homes in 10 major metropolitan areas, comparing them to prices at 35 funeral homes owned by Service Corporation International – SCI – in the same cities. The study found that median prices at funeral homes owned by SCI, which most often uses the name Dignity Memorial, were 47 to 72 percent higher than at the independent funeral homes.
“Many funeral providers offer various ‘packages’ of goods and services for different kinds of funerals,” says the Federal Trade Commission on its website. “When you arrange for a funeral, you have the right to buy goods and services separately. That is, you do not have to accept a package that may include items you do not want.” The site also has a funeral costs and pricing checklist that helps you figure out the actual cost of a funeral.
Other important questions to ask include:
- May I have a copy of your General Price List?
- If prices for such things as caskets and urns aren’t on that list, may I have a list of those prices also?
- Do I have options as far as embalming, viewing, cremation and type of funeral or memorial service? Does your price list cover/specify these services?
- What are my payment options? Do you work with insurance companies?
- The person who died had a final expense life insurance policy. Are you familiar with these?
One smart way to set aside money for funeral and burial expenses is a final expense insurance policy, sometimes referred to as burial insurance or funeral insurance. The purpose of these policies is to pay a death benefit – often between $10,000 and $25,000 – for the specific purpose of covering the costs associated with end of life expenses. These typically include funeral expenses, but may be used for anything the family needs – travel costs for family members, unpaid bills, or medical expenses.
Most final expense insurance companies will give you a free final expense life insurance quote to help you determine what insurance options are available to you. Because these policies offer smaller death benefits, final expense insurance usually doesn’t require a medical exam or physical. Coverage can often be issued based on answers to health questions on the application. Final expense insurance can be a great fit for seniors because of its affordability and easy application process.
More information on final expense insurance
More and more people are making the choice to cover their funeral expenses – both to make sure their final wishes are carried out and to save their loved ones from having to take care of the arrangements and the cost upon their death. One of the most popular ways of doing this is through final expense insurance.
When it comes to final expense insurance, there’s no one-size-fits-all policy. Each family is unique and has different concerns for their loved ones. As the leader in final expense life insurance, no one understands this more than Lincoln Heritage Life Insurance Company®. For over 50 years, we’ve helped protect policyholder families from the high cost of funerals and other expenses.
Funeral Advantage gives families the cash insurance benefit they need within 24 hours of claim approval and assists with price shopping funeral costs. Funeral Advantage is designed to protect your loved ones from emotional overspending by helping them understand the pricing options available to them. We helped save policyholder families thousands of dollars last year alone.
For more information about Lincoln Heritage or to get a free quote from the Funeral Advantage program, click here.< Back to Consumer Resources