Co-op Funeral Plans Reviewed independently. What do we think?
Good news: the Co-ops Terms and Condition have been updated from the unacceptable earlier ones (see below): it would seem that new purchases will benefit from a new 16 page Terms and Conditions, which is fairly reasonable. It is still a little vague on what happens if the Coop go under: “The Trustee will work with the Funeral Planning Authority or a replacement funeral director to provide your funeral. Alternatively, the funds will be returned to your estate” It is the last sentence which concerns us, but it is a great improvement over the previous version (below). For the sake of clarity, the Coop is not a single organisation, and these comments apply to the nationally advertised brand Co-op Funeral Care. We do believe the Coop when they say that the intention is to provide the funeral and not to take the easy and more profitable way out of returning the original investment to the estate.
A major plus point is that in some circumstances they will pay for the funeral if you die early.
A major minus point on instalment plans is that if you miss 3 instalments in 5 years, they may cancel the plan and give you back what you but you will lose the benefit above. Strangely the very next clause (top of page 7) largely contradicts that so we’re a bit confused, but apparently what they mean to say is that if you die just after the third instalment is missed they will honour the plan.
I guess the biggest issue is that the Coop Guarantee is nothing of the sort – even on the set plans there can be extra charges if you move to an area where costs are higher, or if your local cemetery charges extra because you live outside the local authority area. The so-called guarantee is a good thing, make no mistake, but the word guarantee is a bit strong as too many things could change to invalidate it.
Make no mistake, the Coop Plan is now a decent plan, but the Terms and Conditions are a little confused, and the marketing hype of “Fully Guaranteed Funeral Plans” is a trifle misleading.
Our Review of Coop Funeral Plans.
The Coop Simple Funeral Plan. £2,945 (prices as at June 2018.)
This part of a newish breed of plans we call “cut-down plans” which we heartily dislike – not the Coops plan in particular, all of them. They are basically designed to cut costs by using cheap time at crematoriums or burial grounds when the family may not be able to conveniently attend on the day or time – perhaps 8.30 am. Of its type, it is a decent one, we just don’t like the cut-down plans, especially with the confusion over whether you can upgrade them when you die.
The Coop Bronze prepaid Funeral Plan. £3,255.
Choice time and date for the funeral of route for the cortege, posher coffin.
The Coop Silver Funeral Plan. £3,650.
This adds viewing the deceased at any time by arrangement, a posher coffin and a limousine for the family.
The Coop Gold Funeral Plan. £3,899.
Adds a posher coffin and a second limousine.
Review of Previous Coop Funeralcare Terms and Conditions applying to EARLIER plans.
(Ignore this if you are looking for a new plan as much of it no longer applies).
Co-op Funeral Plans have a nice, ethical image. We were quite positive – until we read the small print. We have uploaded it here
This is the key part of the OLD Clause 25:
“In the event of a Termination Event, the Trust will come to an end and the custodian trustee will take such steps as are necessary to return your payments (or the share in the trust fund they now represent) net of winding up costs to the Plan Holder or their Representative.”
What this appears to mean is that if Coop prepaid funeral plans get into serious financial difficulties (the explanation of Termination Event is complex and in clause 26) or go out of business in 20 years time, you or your executors will get your investment back, less the cost of winding up the fund. NOT a funeral.
Most responsible firms would make sure that the fund was available to another firm to pay for your funeral, not give (some of) it back to you! Once the refund comes back, it may be swallowed by care fees and your family still left to pick up the bill. Should Co-op Funeral Plans go under and then be taken over by a commercial enterprise, it would seem that the new owner would be able to profit from that loophole. Indeed, it could perhaps make them a target for asset strippers. The increase in value which should belong to you and should be used to pay the increased cost of your (future) funeral.
Long-lived family? Read this clause.
- Unclaimed money and Plan Benefits
You or Your Representative are responsible for claiming the Plan Benefits. If the Plan Benefits have not been claimed by Your (or the Plan Holder’s ) 110th birthday, or if We’re told that You (or the Plan Holder) may have died, then We may write to the last address We have for You, to attempt to determine whether You still intend to claim the Plan Benefits. If We don’t receive any response within 56 days of writing, We will consider that Your Representative has chosen not to claim the Plan Benefits. Under these circumstances, We’ve the right to cancel the Selected Plan and may keep any payments You have made.
On an Event of Default We’ll become entitled to keep any payments You’ve made.
On an Event of Default We’ll become entitled to keep any payments You’ve made subject to these Terms and Conditions and Section 25. Please refer to Section 25 which sets out what happens to your payments and how they are held on trust.
Those reservations aside, if you are willing to overlook them, their plans are pretty good. We just wish they would take constructive criticism on board instead of threatening us with Court!
Oddly, the Co-op also seem to promote embalming in all but their most basic plan. Embalming is generally considered seriously environmentally unfriendly. If you do go down that route, you should get a written guarantee that no carcinogenic chemicals will be used to replace your blood. In most cases, embalming is quite unnecessary as the modern funeral director will just keep the deceased cool.
More insight into Co-op here, according to the Daily Mirror, though we should point out that this is NOT Co-op Funeral Care, who are a different organisation.
As we offer independent personal advice on prepaid funeral plans you might wish to give us a ring on 0800 0588 240. Or use our Funeral Plan Review enquiry form. We have reviewed the Co-ops funeral prepaid plans, its’ service levels and its’ reputation. Ask for details of our Best Price Guarantee and up to £595 bonus package!
The Press are not keen on Co-op Prepaid Funeral Plans.
The Guardian has concerns about Co-op Prepaid Funeral Plans due to major criticisms of their implementation, rather than the design of Co-operative Funeral Plans. However, the cost of Co-op funeral plans is not excessive. It is just a matter of whether you want to take the risk.
Channel 4’s Dispatches wasn’t too keen on the Co-op Funerals – again, on the cooperatives funeral plan implementation…
“Dispatches” said of Cooperative Funeral Services: “In the programme, we see staff under pressure to sell. They tell our undercover reporter how they’re actively encouraged not to tell customers about the cheapest funeral package the company sells.
We witness a masterclass in how NOT to show the bereaved the cheapest coffin in the brochure and watch staff insist that families ‘need’ to have their loved one embalmed – something that is simply not true.” More details of Cooperative sales training HERE.
The Guardian was also less than keen on the Coop Funeral Plans in its monthly paid version, where hard times or unexpected bills can apparently mean you lose everything you have paid in unless you have managed to make it to the ripe old age of 90! To be fair, there are many other similar plans.
We also understand that booking Coop Prepaid Funeral Plans or a Coop Funeral may well result in Coop Legal Services trying to sell you their legal probate services within days of the funeral and that this sales activity is going to be stepped up dramatically. Consequently, any link to the Co-op may result in you receiving lots of cross-selling from Co-op sales staff. We don’t believe the Co-op are continuing to live up to their lofty ideals. They are just another big business these days, more worried about the bottom line than their “members,” which is a terrible shame.
Prepaid Co-op funeral plans include a range of Burial and Cremation Plans in Bronze, Silver and Gold versions at a range of costs. Co-operative Funeral Care is probably the largest funeral group of funeral directors in the UK. They don’t have Funeral Directors in every town, though. Quite apart from that, their plans won’t suit everyone. Not everyone is keen on their alleged target-driven approach to sales either!
Coop Funeral Pre Payment Funeral Plans say:
“Cooperative Funeral Plans have been helping families plan their funeral arrangements to the very last detail for generations. In fact, we have been helping families for over 70 years now. As the UK’s leading Funeral Director, you can be assured that we will handle everything sensitively and provide you with individual support, care and reassurance when it matters most.
With Co-op Funeral Payment Plans, you can relax knowing you’re getting a truly local service. There are 1,100 Co-operative Funeral Homes across the UK, so if you want to arrange a Plan, or just want some free advice, we’re here to help.
When you choose to create your own personal Coop Funeral Plan, our experienced Funeral Directors, planners, and advisers can talk you through all the options available to help you plan a unique and fitting funeral.
Co-op Prepaid Funeral Plans promise to you.
- We guarantee that the services included in our Co-op Funeral Plans are fully covered and there will be no more to pay for them when the time comes.
- If you change your mind, we’ll give you a full refund as long as it’s within the first 30 days.
- Our Funeral Directors are available 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
Set Co-op Funeral Plans.
- Simplicity – arranging a Plan makes things simple and easy to do. It allows you to make all the main decisions and the key services are included.
- Reassurance – by making the decisions and arrangements in advance, you save much of the worry for your loved ones.
- Sound financial sense – with Co-op Funeral Plans the cost is fixed at today’s prices, so you don’t pay any more regardless of how prices rise.
- Guaranteed – all the services in our Coop Funeral Plans are fully covered so there is no more to pay for them; even the fees paid to third parties such as the crematorium authority or the minister are included. (But not the cost of buying a burial plot).
- Flexibility – you can choose from a number of Co-op Funeral Plans to suit your needs and a range of ways to pay to suit your budget.
- Convenience – you can transfer Coop Funeral Plans to any of our funeral homes across the UK.
- Personal – you can record wishes personal to you, such as a favourite piece of music, flowers or poems – we will look after your wishes and give them to the Funeral Director when the time comes.
Important information for burials: see exactly what is and what isn’t covered in a Set Burial Plan, as well as where additional charges may need to be paid.”
Chanel 4’s Dispatches program was not impressed with the Co-op Funeral Services performance.
The Prepaid Funeral Review Review of Co-op Funeral Plans.
The Coop is supposed to be an organisation set up to help members. According to Channel 4, it has turned into a high-pressure target driven sales organisation with staff forced into cross-selling other services. So when you go to a Coop Funeral Director, he or she will have to try very hard to sell you the Probate Service offered by Coop Legal Services, who employ their own direct sales force to visit widows in their homes and get them signed up while they are still grieving. And anyone who thinks that Coop Legal Services is cheap is almost certainly in for a shock if they get a comparative quote (we are highly biased and recommend The Probate Department Ltd.) That said, the Coops range of funeral plans are in themselves decent plans with some advantages if you don’t mind the at death tactics.
In all cases, the team at The Prepaid Funeral Review should be able to offer a more suitable alternative, but it will cost you nothing to find out and keep the Coop salesperson waiting a few days! If you are keen to get a plan set up, call us on 0800 0588 240.
If you are not in a hurry, but would still value independent advice on your choice of prepaid funeral plan, GO HERE and download our questionnaire. It will help you consider which benefits are most important to you – and all the plans on offer their own unique set of features. When we receive it we will review it against our features and benefits database and recommend what we believe to be the most right plan for you. All we ask is that if you decide to accept our advice, you buy the plan through us. In the unlikely even that you find the recommended funeral plan cheaper elsewhere, let us know and we’ll try to renegotiate the price for you.
Prepaid Co-op Funeral Plan Prices as at 10.06.16
Coop Bronze prepaid cremation plan £3,365.
Coop Silver prepaid cremation plan £3,850 (adds wider viewing times, posher coffin and car.)
Coop Gold prepaid funeral plan £4,195 (adds even posher coffin).
They do offer a £100 discount for buying their plans online without advice, but the price isn’t really the issue as far as we are concerned.
Coop set burial plans are the same price but do not include the cost of the plot or of any memorial. That is normal, not a criticism.
The Coop also offer an insurance type way of paying for a funeral plan through fixed monthly instalments which finish the month before your 90th birthday. We ran an example through and ended up paying nearly 3 times the base price. This type of plan is essentially an Over 50s Plan and only represents good value if you died after paying for two years and before you have paid for 9 years. In effect, you could have paid off a better value plan in full in 10 years, but you might still have 15 years left to pay on this plan so why not give us a call on 0800 0588 240?
Contact us regarding Cooperative funeral bonds and Coop prepaid funerals.