Increasing numbers of people are buying funeral plans so that they can pay for their funeral in advance and let their loved ones know their wishes.
Almost 64,000 funeral plans have been sold so far this year, according to new figures from the Funeral Planning Authority, which regulates the funeral plan industry. This is up 5% compared to the same period last year. Total sales of funeral plans reached 211,000 in 2016, more than four times higher than they were a decade ago. In 2002, when the FPA was first established, just 46,340 plans were sold.
Graeme McAusland, chief executive of the FPA, said, “As well as market growth, we have also seen lots of changes to the ways that customers can buy plans. When they were first introduced, plans were typically purchased from a funeral director directly, but now there is greater choice which in many ways is a positive thing, as it increases consumer choice and awareness.”
However, although sales of funeral plans are increasing, more than half of the people questioned by the FPA said they had given no thought at all as to how they might cover the cost of their funeral in future. Of those who are making plans, almost a fifth (19%) are doing so because they experienced the death of a loved one where plans were not put in place and wanted to actively avoid that happening with their own funeral in future.
How funeral plans work
According to Sun Life’s latest Cost of Dying report, the average cost of a funeral is currently around £3,897, more than double the amount it cost when Sun Life first started tracking funeral prices in 2004.
A funeral plan will guarantee to cover funeral expenses, with costs frozen at today’s prices. They are not the same as over-50s insurance plans, which pay out a lump sum when you die in return for you paying monthly premiums for the remainder of your life.
The most comprehensive funeral plans will provide everything you need to cover the cost of a traditional cremation funeral, but extras such as flowers or obituaries won’t usually be included. You typically pay a lump sum for this type of plan, although some offer the option to pay monthly instalments for a set period of time.
Graeme McAusland said: “With ongoing news headlines about funeral poverty and the escalating costs of funerals, more people than ever are wanting to be prepared and are purchasing, or thinking about purchasing prepaid funeral plans. Our role isn’t to tell everyone to buy a funeral plan, as it really is a personal decision.
“But if you are thinking about buying one, we recommend you do so from an FPA registered provider as they have undergone additional scrutiny and must adhere to our stringent rules and Code of Practice. This offers customers reassurance that they’ll get the plan they have paid for when they need it, from a provider they can trust.”
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