FAQ: About Funeral Insurance

Funeral Insurance Frequently Asked Questions

The following Frequently Asked Questions were designed to reply to the funeral insurance questions we get from consumers most often.

We’re sure you also hear similar questions when you are working with clients. In fact, you may even be wondering what the answers are to some of these.

If you’d like more information on the funeral insurance we offer the general public, we encourage you to visit our Funeral Insurance page.

What is funeral insurance?

Funeral, burial, and final expense insurance are all names for small life insurance policies ($3,000-$40,000). These policies cover the cost of final expenses, such as funeral products and services. For more details on these specialized policies, check out our Guide to Buying Funeral Insurance.

How is preneed insurance different from funeral insurance?

PreNeed insurance is similar to funeral insurance but is tied to a preneed contract with a funeral service provider. A preneed contract is a statement of goods and services contract you sign with a funeral service provider when purchasing preneed funeral insurance. It itemizes the specific funeral services and products you selected for your funeral. For more information, visit our page on preneed contracts.

Do I need funeral insurance?

The most crucial benefit of funeral insurance is financial security for your family. According to the 2021 General Price List Survey by the National Funeral Directors Association, the median cost of a traditional funeral was $9,420. This number doesn’t even include cemetery costs. A traditional funeral can easily cost $10,000 or more. Covering funeral costs is a heavy financial burden for most people, especially if it comes unexpectedly and at a stressful time. Having a funeral insurance policy protects your family against this financial hardship. It also avoids the added stress of paying for final expenses while dealing with their grief. To learn more, visit our How to Shop for Funeral Insurance page.

How much funeral insurance do I need?

The value of your policy will depend on the type of funeral service and burial you anticipate having. Most funeral insurance policies range from $3,000-$40,000. A small, simple service or cremation will cost less than a more elaborate service so you won’t need as large a policy. Preplanning is the best way to estimate how much money you need to have available for funeral costs. Our Wise Planning System can help you determine the cost of the type of funeral service you have in mind.

How much does funeral insurance cost?

The cost of funeral insurance depends on factors such as age, health, how much coverage you request, and the type of policy you choose. A guaranteed issue policy will not take health into consideration so the cost may be somewhat higher than for a medically underwritten policy. If you select an underwritten policy, the price depends on your unique situation. For example, the premiums for someone who is age 55 and does not smoke will likely be lower than for a 70-year-old smoker. Requesting a quote is the best way to determine precisely how much your premiums will be.

Do the proceeds from my funeral insurance have to be used for funeral expenses?

It depends on the type of policy you have. Once the holder of a final expense insurance policy dies, the beneficiaries can use the funds however they desire. The funds are usually used as intended, but you should choose your beneficiary carefully. Ensure that the people you want to care for your final farewell know what you want. If you have a preneed insurance contract, the proceeds will go directly to the funeral home where you have made your arrangements.

How can I save money on funeral insurance?

It’s important to remember that funeral insurance is highly regulated, and discounts are not offered on policy rates. If you find something that looks too good to be true, you probably need to look at it more closely. It probably isn’t what you want or need. You can use strategies to lower your premiums, such as scaling back your service or locking in today’s prices through a preneed contract. We highly recommend creating a funeral plan to help you consider what products and services you need. Visit our page on funeral costs to learn more about how much money you need to set aside.

Where can I buy funeral insurance?

You can purchase a funeral insurance policy through an insurance agent or a funeral service provider such as a funeral home. Some insurance companies sell the policies directly as well. Many people prefer to use an agent since it gives them a more personalized way to get customer service. There are many online sources for funeral insurance. We have a network of licensed Preplanning Specialists who would be happy to help you with your funeral planning and provide a free, no-obligation quote.

Do I need to talk to an insurance agent?

You can get a quote online, but it is always best to talk with an agent to ask questions, get clarifications, and ensure you understand precisely what you are buying. One good strategy is to request a quote online and then talk with an agent. This way, you can be confident you are getting the best policy at the best price. An independent agent (also called a broker) is typically self-employed and represents a variety of companies. An exclusive agent represents only one company and may be an employee of the company they represent. Our network of Preplanning Specialists are licensed insurance agents who can help you with your funeral planning and provide a free, no-obligation quote.

What kind of funeral insurance do I need?

The type of insurance that is right for you will depend on your circumstances. The goal is to have a policy that will provide enough money to fund your funeral and burial. Most people find that a relatively small whole-life policy will suit their needs. It is always a good idea to consult your financial advisor to get a definitive answer on what the outlook for your end-of-life situation will be. To learn more about the types of funeral insurance available, check out our Guide to Buying Funeral Insurance.

What is the difference between “Whole Life” and “Term” insurance?

“Whole Life” generally refers to “Ordinary Whole Life,” an insurance policy that will stay in force for the length of your life as long as you pay the premiums. Most whole-life funeral insurance policies are “ordinary” whole life. A “Term” life insurance policy runs for a selected time period, typically 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, or 30 years. Being aware of your policy type is essential since the beneficiary payment will only occur if the insured dies within the specified period. Be sure to read the fine print if you are considering a final expense or burial insurance policy to ensure it is a whole-life policy. Because if it is a term policy and you die after the expiration period, there will be no funds to cover funeral expenses.

Do I need funeral insurance if I have life insurance?

Many people choose to purchase funeral insurance as a supplement to life insurance. Funeral insurance will protect your estate from being depleted by your final expenses. One key advantage of funeral insurance is that it pays out more quickly than regular life insurance. Even if you have a sizable estate or significant life insurance, your loved ones may not have the cash to cover your funeral expenses. Remember, most funeral service companies require that you pay at the time of service.

Does health insurance or Medicare cover funeral costs?

No. Health insurance and Medicare are specifically for health coverage; they do not pay for funeral expenses. If you are looking for insurance coverage, you need some type of life insurance policy, such as funeral insurance, that pays out upon your death.

How do I choose a funeral insurance company?

What insurance company to buy from is essential since the wrong choice can leave you empty-handed. The short answer is that you should only buy from a top-rated company. One good source for insurance company ratings is A.M. Best. This highly regarded company offers independent analysis regarding company stability and the ability to meet financial obligations. If you choose an insurance company with an A.M. Best top rating (AA through A), you can feel reasonably confident that you are making a good choice.

How do I apply for funeral insurance?

How you apply depends on the company from which you are buying. For some, you can apply by phone or fill out a form. For others, you can apply online. Generally, you will request a no-obligation quote and wait for a reply. A good approach is to request a quote online and then talk with an agent. This way, you can be confident you are getting the best policy at the best price. Our network of Preplanning Specialists are licensed insurance agents who can help you with your funeral planning and provide a free, no-obligation quote.

Will my premium change?

If you purchase a policy with “level premiums,” your premiums will not change over the policy’s life. Price is based on the policy value, your age, and health at the time of purchase. The “premium” is the price you pay for your life insurance policy. You make the payments monthly, quarterly, or annually. Prices vary between insurers and types of policies, so be sure to shop around or speak with a licensed agent.

Can my funeral insurance be canceled?

Usually, your policy cannot be canceled unless you stop paying your premiums. The policy will automatically terminate if you don’t pay for any reason. If you choose to cancel, certain whole-life policies have a cash value. Be sure to know what you are buying.

How long do funeral insurance policies last?

If you have a whole-life funeral insurance policy and pay your premiums on time, your policy will last until you pass away. The beneficiary will receive a cash payout of the policy’s value at your death. If you have a term funeral insurance policy and pass away before the term’s expiration, your beneficiary will receive a cash payout upon your death. If the term passes before your death, then, unfortunately, there will be no payout. In most cases, the insurance company can only cancel your policy if you stop paying your premiums.

Who should I choose as my beneficiary?

Your beneficiary is the person or persons you designate as the recipient of a life insurance claim proceeds. In the case of final expense insurance, the person you designate as the beneficiary can decide not to use the funds to pay for the funeral, so be sure to select a person you trust to carry out your wishes. You should also ensure that whoever you choose is fully aware of your wishes. Our Wise Planning System is an excellent way to share your wishes with your beneficiaries and family members.

What is a Graded Death Benefit?

“Graded” refers to the reduced death benefit payable if the policyholder’s death occurs within the policy’s early years. Graded Death Benefit provisions are typically found in guaranteed issue policies. For example, a policy may only pay out the premiums paid to date if death occurs within the first year or two. The death benefit will be an increasing percentage of the face amount until the policy matures to usually the third year.

What are “Stepped Premiums?”

Stepped premiums are insurance premiums that are recalculated (generally once a year) to determine if the level of risk warrants a higher (or lower) premium. Age is generally the determining factor. On the other hand, level premiums are insurance premiums that do not change from month to month as you get older but are locked in at a specific rate. We recommend purchasing a level premium policy to cover your funeral and final expenses.

What is a “Funeral Service Provider?”

The term “Funeral Service Provider” generally refers to a funeral home. It may also refer to a funeral director, a cremation service, or other professionals who provide services to the funeral industry. For help selecting a funeral service provider, visit our Find Services directories.

What is the difference between a guaranteed issue policy and an underwritten policy?

With guaranteed issue policies, almost everyone is accepted regardless of age or medical history. You sometimes hear these policies called “Guaranteed Acceptance Life Insurance.” These policies are generally more expensive than underwritten policies because there are no health questions. Guaranteed-issue policies typically have graded death benefit provisions that reduce the death benefit within the first few years of the policy. With an underwritten policy, the insurance company evaluates your medical history to determine if it will accept the policy. Medical underwriting may also be used to determine the price of the policy.

How do I find the best funeral insurance policy for me?

We think a step-by-step approach is the best way to find a funeral insurance policy to meet your needs. To learn more about the types of funeral insurance available, check out our Guide to Buying Funeral Insurance.