Category Archives: funeral plan “small print”

funeral plan "small print"

Funeral Plan Market – Competition Cutting Costs

Exciting Times in the Funeral Plan Market

Massive changes in the market are giving the public even better value and wider choice.  MPs seem to think that prepaid funeral plans are somehow responsible for pushing up the cost of funerals. Professional advisers know that is wrong, and it is nice to have some proof to share. The complete reverse is true: prepaid plans are cutting funeral costs, certainly for those who own them.

In recent days at least four of the major funeral plan providers have introduce exciting (well, to us) new funeral plans. At least two more providers are gently pushing into the market at lower prices.

The Co-op and Dignity have introduced low cost direct cremation plans. (We’re not wildly keen on Direct Cremation plans – see our section on them. The funeral plan market has never been more competitive.

Golden Charter have slashed prices and improved their competitive position substantially.

Both Golden Charter and Safe Hands have introduced interesting new products which slim down the cost of funerals. You do lose a little flexibility, but the costs are much reduced.

As readers will know, the fund holding side of funeral plans is highly regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Whatever the Funeral Planning Authority may say, they are not a Regulator.

Providers in the Funeral Plan market must abide by advertising authorities, as must advisers like ourselves, and the Advertising Standards Authority, Trading Standards and the Courts can help anyone who is badly treated by the industry. (We say, always read the small print – there is rarely that much of it in this business!)

Does Parliament Really Want To Reduce Competition and increase Costs?

Members of Parliament have recommended that sales of funeral plans be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. What they don’t understand is that – far from reducing prices and increasing competition, the reverse will happen. Financial Services became regulated in 1988. Around 90% of advisers were eventually driven out of the market, leaving most of the population (other than the wealthy) without advice.  How  Mainly through massive additional cost of complying with and paying for (often) silly rules. I remember sitting in my office when a client asked a simple question to which the answer was obvious to me – it was a Yes/No question. But I couldn’t answer it without going through lots of hoops and backside covering exercise. These days, if you went to a low cost Independent Financial Adviser, that Yes/ No answer would probably cost you £300. That is if you could find an adviser who takes on folk who are not wealthy. The days of free financial advice are gone – at least, if you want it to be independent.

The FCA have pretended to provide non-”advice” themselves and failed dismally, they have introduced hybrid business models and they are now encouraging “robo advice.”

So in nearly 30 years, the population has grown, the need for advice has grown dramatically, and the supply of advice has shrunk by 90% and the number of product suppliers has also shrunk substantially.

So if you want to reduce the number of people taking out funeral plans, reduce competition and allow prices to rise, ask your MP to promote the Financial Conduct Authorities efforts to take on ever more jobsworths.

There are very few independent advisers on funeral plans. We are one. Save the funeral plan market from higher costs and often pointless regulation.  Keep costs down and competition up!

Read the Small Print

When buying a funeral plan, read the small print:

Funeral Plan Quotes

Funeral Plan Quotes

See if you can work out what is wrong with this funeral plan without any help from us. We will give you a clue. It is NOT )in our opinion) despite its name, a Funeral Plan! That is whu you need out cost free independent advice on choosing a funeral plan!  Or you could read the small print on hundreds of plans if you are that way inclined….

Your Choice of Funeral Plan.

The ‘XXXX Plan – Plan price £1890*

This plan provides a dignified but simple “no frills” funeral:

§  The professional advice, guidance and services of the funeral director and necessary staff throughout the funeral arrangements.§  Transfer of the deceased (during office hours) to our Chapel of Rest, from within a 20 mile radius.§  Advice on how to register the death and how to obtain all the necessary certificates.

§  Supplying a basic coffin.

§  Provision of a hearse to the nearest cemetery or crematorium.

§  This plan does NOT include viewing the deceased, provision of a limousine, or a church service.

*Plan prices valid until 31st March 2015
+ £225 administration fee per plan
+ Disbursements (see below)

*Disbursements

Whilst we will be pleased to calculate third party fees, or ‘disbursements’ at current rates, we have no control over what these might be in the future. You have the option of paying a contribution towards these but please be aware that there may be additional cost involved at the time of need.

Disbursements for a local cremation, including doctors’ fees for a cremation certificate, minister’s fee and organist: YYYYYYYYYY £1035; ZZZZZ £1168.

So have you realised what the small print of the XXXX Funeral Plan means?

  1. It doesn’t cover the cost of the actual cremationl!!!  That is extra, as are other smalller items covered in most plans.  In our opinion, that means it is NOT a funeral plan, but what do we know!   All it does is make sure the funeral director gets paid. You have to add the best part of £1000 to cover basic disbursements, which makes it over £1000 more expensive than the best value equivalent which does include cremation and cost less than this pathetic excuse for a funeral plan.  Just our view!
  2. It prevents the family from being involved at any time after the body is collected – no service, no viewings, just no family involvement.  We really don’t like this sort of plan, as it is rare that no one at all wishes to have any sort of farewell.
  3. The minimum cost of this funeral (excluded) plan would seem to be £1,890 PLUS £225 which is £2,215 and then you need to pay for the cremation and the two doctors certificates at the very least.

VERDICT – avoid at all costs unless you dislike all your “friends” and relatives, it is dire value for money.  There are many plans of this type, so why not let us do the legwork for you, and find a plan which really helps those left behind.  No plan is perfect but there are plenty better than this one!  But if you really want a  cheap plan that excludes family and friends we can help….if you insist!

 

The Funeral Planning Authority and Funeral Plans

What is the role of the Funeral Planning Authority in the regulation of Funeral Planning? It is not an official body, it is a Trade Association which does indeed seek to raise standards by way of self-regulation.  But that does not mean that firms who choose not to subscribe are in any way inferior.  We certainly keep an eye on them!

Overall regulation of the financial aspects of UK Funeral Plans is streets ahead of that in many countries, and the industry has a proud record of delivering on its promises (though you do need advice on the small print, which is why The Prepaid Funeral Review exists).

But on with the Safe Hands Press Release:

“SafeHands Thanks Dignity for bringing clarity to consumers regarding the FPA.

NFFD and SafeHands thank Dignity for assisting our fight in bringing clarity to consumers relating to the Funeral Planning Authority.

Recently, we had a discussion with a Building Society who had misleading statements on their website with reference to Dignity Funeral Plans. Their website stated that “Dignity is a member of the Funeral Planning Authority, the official body that oversees companies who offer funeral plans” –

We would like to Thank Dignity, one of the UK’s largest providers of funeral plans, for officially requesting that all of their resellers alter the phrasing to “Dignity is a member of the Funeral Planning Authority, the professional body that oversees the operation of registered funeral plan companies”. Doing this has gone some way to reassuring us that the funeral planning industry remains credible and transparent and that consumers are given the correct information.

Now, our stance on the FPA has always been quite clear. Whilst we appreciate the merits of any self-regulated body designed to protect the consumer, the public opinion that the FPA is in some way a) Official or b) an Authority is deeply concerning as this is simply not the case.

The FPA has its own code of conduct, not too dissimilar to that of an old energy firm whom the FPA director, Mr Harland, used to work with, which is designed to put consumers at ease by suggesting that no “Cold Calling” should take place, and that Member’s should act decently, honestly and ethically and also that, should anything happen to one of its members, the remaining members would discuss the possibility of looking after the invested monies of their customers. This is far from a concrete arrangement in our view and leaves a great deal of ambiguity.

That said, we have no issue with the FPA remaining as a self-regulated, non-official body provided that the consumer is not misled into thinking that they are in some way an authority over the entire industry or, potentially worse, a legal requirement (as written and subsequently removed upon our request on a some of its members webpages).

Safe Hands Funeral Plans, in conjunction with the National Federation of Funeral Directors, put transparency and consumer interest at the forefront of everything we do. Therefore, we have no interest in joining such an organisation and we will continue to contact the compliance departments of all Funeral Plan Providers and their respective resellers to remove misleading statements regarding the Funeral Planning Authority from marketing materials and websites.

Please contact us if you notice any providers or resellers who state that the Funeral Planning Authority are an ‘Official Body’ or that it is implied that they are an ‘Authority’ over the funeral planning industry and we will ensure our legal representatives take the appropriate action.”

Family Funeral Plan

What is The Family Funeral Plan?

To be fair, you won’t find it anywhere else as far as we know.

It came about because we came across so many families which could only afford one funeral plan between a couple.  Sometimes, it was the children wanting to buy a funeral plan for a parent who thought funeral plans were nonsense – they hadn’t read any of the many  press reports on the dramatically rising cost of funerals.  So we made some special arrangements, which you can benefit from, if you ask.

Family young and oldSo no matter how many people are in the family, one of them is going to die first.  But you can never be sure who it will be. Life is a lottery and the prize is a big bill for those left behind to pick up – unless at least one family member has The Family Funeral Plan.

That person can then pass over the plan for the immediate use of the deceased, thus solving the immediate problem to everyone’s benefit.  In an ideal world of course, a second Family Funeral Plan can be added as soon as it can be afforded.   They way funeral price inflation is going, the sooner the extra plans are added, the less they will cost.  If more than one person can chip in then the family could soon get well prepared.

The plan can be bought in installments if necessary.  Beware of imitations though – some funeral plans which seem similar, but actually have hefty extra charges hidden in the small print.  Hundreds of pounds extra in most cases, extra money for your family to find at the worst of times.

“Can I buy the family funeral plan for my parents?”   YES!
“Can I buy a funeral plan for a friend who is hard up?”  YES!
“Can we buy one plan between us with the first to die able to use it?”  YES!

“I have been diagnosed with cancer and may die.  If I don’t can I use the plan, can it be used by another family member?” YES – as long as you have asked for The Family Funeral Plan.

Why not get started today?  Remember to ask for The Family Funeral Plan specially if you think that aspect is important.

 

Funeral Plan Costs Comparison

Funeral Plan Costs and Inflation – is the only way up?

Funeral Plan Quotes

Funeral Plan Quotes

It certainly looks as if the only way is UP for funeral plan costs!  Why?
(So organise your prepaid funeral plan through us as soon as possible and we’ll help the environment and plant a tree in your honour before prices go up again!)

Each Funeral Plan company reviews it’s costs at least once a year. And so far, the only way has been up.  They have to remain in line with the cost of providing a funeral, which is rising just as fast.

Why is the trend of plan costs inflation so firmly up? Because regulations are getting tighter throughout the system, adding expenses and in some cases requiring multi-million pound investments.

To make matters worse, many undertakers do not have the facility to handle increasingly large and tall people. A few years ago, people over 18 stone or 6’2” were very unusual: now they are common. This means that some funeral directors cannot handle them without tearing out expensive but perfectly sound equipment and replacing it with expensive new equipment. All of which puts up the cost of funerals, and consequently prepaid funeral plans.

When is the best time to buy before funeral plan costs go up?

There are many funeral plan companies costs which we keep under review, and they all change at different times, but there are roughly four times a year when leaving it a week or two could cost you dearly – at least, if you buy direct.

But at the Prepaid Funeral Review, we can often offer last years prices for up to a month after they go up to the public. Why? Because we advise on lots of funeral plans, and the companies want to keep in our good books!

The Prepaid Funeral Review is the right place if you are looking for sound information about prepaid funeral plan costs. Prepaid funeral plans really are very different from each other under the glossy surface.

We at The Prepaid Funeral Review are independent of all the prepaid funeral plan providers. We offer an independent prepaid funeral review of the plans available in the UK and a specific recommendation of the plan which is best for your unique situation.

If you want to simplify the process and get advice rather than reading through the site yourself (and we don’t give too much away on the site!), contact us for the Prepaid Funeral Review checklist.  Or prepare to comb through the small print of dozens of companies in a probably vain attempt to find the best plan before funeral plan costs go up again!