Category Archives: other plans

other plans

Are Prepaid Funeral Plans A Good Idea?

Before we go on to look at the negative aspects of prepaid funeral plans, let us look at a real-life example which happened in 2019 to make it clear that they may well be a good idea, even if not for everyone.

A friends mother died, and they went to their usual undertaker and arranged a funeral. It was just a standard cremation with a ceremony at the crematorium, and it cost £4,790.

He happened to mention it to me, and out of curiosity, I did some research, and it turned out that a fully guaranteed plan using the same funeral director and with exactly the same services would have given a massive saving of £1,655.

So the expectation that prepaid funeral plans are NOT a good idea is not one which should be accepted as a fact. In this case, had the family come to us a couple of weeks before the death, we could have saved a lot of money for them.  Incidentally, you can buy plans for friends or relatives and many providers allow you donate your own plan to a friend or relative.

Let’s get negative and examine the idea that funeral plans are poor value – it does happen.

Sometimes there is a new funeral director in town, offering exceptionally low rates to establish themselves in the area. It is certainly possible they might charge less than the cost of a prepaid plan, at least in the short term.  In some cases, you could cancel the plan and get back most of the original cost, but they are about more than saving money.  They are about simplicity, convenience, and avoiding disputes as the deceased made most of the arrangements

The Daily Mirror gives these reasons why funeral plans are bad value:

Funeral plans might seem like a good idea on paper – but they’re really not great value for money and are often high-pressure sold, which is why they’ve had some bad press lately. Here’s how the plans work:

  • Funeral plans are designed to pay for the costs of your funeral. But there are lots of things that they don’t cover, commonly flowers, headstones – even the burial plot.
  • You pay over instalments or in one lump sum payment. But there are costs for cancelling the policy and for paying by instalments and the policy doesn’t build up interest or insurance like an investment.
  • Funeral plans are a bit like savings clubs – so they aren’t regulated financial products, so you’ve got less consumer protection, though there is a scheme to help if one goes bust.

We certainly agree that some salespeople are high pressure, which is why we have a discussion with clients and POST out a full recommendation with all the information for them to read and act on when they are ready.

Unsurprisingly, funeral plans cover what they say they do, not other things.  Burial plots for example can cost £300 or £15,000 plus.  Burial is a more complex transaction, with headstones not being able to be erected form 6 months plus, and being there for the family rather than the deceased.  Again, even wider variations in cost can happen.

In terms of paying in installments, the extra costs are to provide some cover for the increasing costs over the years.  For a £3000 plan, you would not expect to be able to pay £300 a year over ten years, as the cost of the actual funeral could have doubled in that time, so those who paid in one go would effectively be subsidising the installment payers.

The third point is sort of valid, but client money is either kept in a ring-fenced independently managed and audited fund or with an insurance company which is regulated.  Full regulation is on the way, but is likely to be a double-edged weapon with choice and (our) independent advice becoming much more restricted.

Other disadvantages of prepaid funeral plans:

  1. Most plans have a cancellation charge to cover their costs.  Whilst they do vary rather widely, it should be very unusual to need to cancel a prepaid funeral plan.
  2. If you do cancel, you won’t get back more than you put in.  With the horrible over 50s non-profit plans, the only time you get anything back is when you die, provide the premiums are up to date.
  3. You don’t always get the funeral director you want, but then that one may have been sold long before you need the plans.  Most firms are actually not small private firms anyway, they are shopfronts for the big boys.
  4. It is worth repeating, that a funeral plan cover only the services they say they do – if you want flowers, posh or wicker coffins, headstones etc you need to specifically ask for them.
  5. At the end of the day, never buy a prepaid funeral plan without reading ALL the small print! So call us on 0800 0588 240 or use the enquiry form.

Safe Hands Funeral Plans Now FPA Members

Safe Hands Official Statement Regarding Funeral Planning Authority Registration.
We at Safe Hands are delighted to announce that our application to become registered with the Funeral Planning Authority has been successful.

The FPA registration process we found to be reassuringly thorough and robust, involving, as it did, a forensic level of scrutiny of all aspects of our operation by the Compliance Committee, and the making of some modifications and changes operationally in order to satisfy the FPA’s exacting standards of qualification.

Over the coming days, we will be revising our marketing literature, website and other platforms, to include the FPA’s logo as confirmation of our registration.

FPA Regulated Firms

We expect the news, that Safe Hands Funeral Plans are now registered with the FPA, will be as welcome to those of you that sell our products as it was to us as a company. All of you that have secured sales for us have, by selling responsibly, honestly and in a manner compliant with our rules of operation, contributed to the success of our application. We are extremely grateful to you for your efforts.

We ask, now we are registered with the FPA, that we all continue to work together to maintain the high standards that we have achieved, and in a manner that is in keeping with the somewhat unique, particularly sensitive, environment in which we operate.

Yours faithfully,

David Latham
Managing Director

Independent Advice Needed on Funeral Plans

and that is where we come in! No pressure, just Independent Advice. Here is an article from Golden Leaves:

Most Middle Aged Consumers prefer to purchase Funeral Planning products away from the Funeral Home!

New research by Funeral Planning firm, Golden Leaves, has revealed that the majority [62%] of middle-aged consumers, aged 50 – 65, and over 46% of consumers over 66 years of age believe funeral plans should be purchased alongside other ‘later-life planning’ products, such as a Will, rather than purchased via a Funeral Home.

The survey, which questioned 1,050 consumers between the ages of 50 and 85 on their perceptions of the funeral planning sector, also revealed that over a third [35%] of consumers aged 50 – 65 felt anxious or distressed with the idea of having to visit a funeral parlour in order to purchase a funeral plan.

This behaviour was confirmed by the fact 65% of respondents within this age bracket who had purchased a plan, had done so via a Funeral Planning firm, Will writer, Financial Advisor or Legal Services company.

Conversely, in analysing the responses from consumers aged 66 – 85, both consumer behaviour towards purchasing the product, and perception towards funeral parlours, does change with age.

Results show that over half [54%] of consumers between the ages of 66 – 85 didn’t believe that funeral plans needed to be associated with ‘later life’ planning products, where a massive 84%advised they didn’t feel anxious or concerned with having to purchase a funeral plan directly from a funeral business.

The research, therefore, demonstrates that although middle-aged consumers understand the important role of a funeral plan, they would feel more comfortable in purchasing it as part of the ‘later-life’ planning process via a dedicated firm or financial advisor; where the vast majority of more elderly consumers expressed no concern at having to enter a funeral parlour, confirmed by the fact 55% of 66 – 85 year old’s advised they had or would purchase a funeral plan from a Funeral Director.

On discussing the research, Barry Floyd, Managing Director of Golden Leaves, said:

“This latest research is extremely telling and very much aligns with Golden Leaves’ experience of consumer behaviour associated with the purchase of funeral plans spanning the last decade at least.”

“For many people, entering a Funeral Parlour can seem a finite and scary experience, yet they understand the importance of having a Funeral Plan in place to avoid burdening their loved ones with associated costs. Ultimately, for consumers in the 50 – 65 age demographic, aligning funeral plans with other ‘later-life’ planning products, such as will writing, is a natural association that focuses on the importance of maintaining control, whilst removing it from a morbid funeral parlour environment.”

Other key take outs from the survey include:

  • Despite the age bracket of consumers surveyed, just 65% confirmed they had written a will, with just 24% advising they had purchased Life Insurance.
  • 46% of respondents believe that the average funeral costs between £2,000 – £4,000, with 44% of respondents believing the average funeral to cost between £4,000 – £6,00
  • 51% of respondents thought the average Funeral Plan costs between £10 – £25 per month, with 37% believing plans to cost between £25 – £50 per month.

Barry continued:

“Considering the current political appetite to potentially reform the regulation around the funeral planning product, it is important that HM Treasury and policy makers understand that careful consideration needs to be applied when constructing any new regulatory framework.”

“The majority of middle-aged consumers and even 46% of consumers aged 66 – 85 would rather associate funeral plans with later-life planning, as opposed to the somewhat scary environment of a funeral parlour, which means funeral plan providers and other estate planning, will-writing,   financial or legal representatives need to be able to offer these products to fulfil the clear and considerable consumer demand.”

“The growth witnessed by the sector over the last decade, has been largely delivered by consumers buying from funeral planning companies and their reselling agent networks amongst other non-funeral-based distributers. This has actually led to increased market competition, effectively driving costs down whilst keeping operational standards high in order to attract and benefit consumers.”

As one of the first to introduce the funeral plan product to the UK market, Golden Leaves are widely recognised as being one of the UK’s oldest and most reputable Funeral Planning companies.

Chairman of Golden Leaves, Steve Rowland added: “Golden Leaves are supportive of increased regulation but we firmly believe that it should not reduce consumer choice, increase costs for the consumer, or distort the market in such a way that delivers poor consumer outcomes.”

Assist Funeral Plans Ltd

We have never had any dealings with Assist Funeral Plans Ltd which appears to be no longer trading. We were approached by a member of the public who had purchased an Assist Funeral Plan and was unable to get any response from them.  In theory, the clients’ funds should be perfectly safe in the Assist Funeral Trust – but we have as yet been unable to find out who manages that or where it is located.

Company details are available here (direct download from Companies House._

The Director is listed as GORDON, Michael Thomas.

His correspondence address was listed as 5 Jupiter House, Calleva Park, Aldermaston, Reading, Berks, United Kingdom, RG7 8NN (the address of UK PLC Registrations).  Mr Gordon apparently held 882 directorships!  Another address was Trevor Cottage, The Green, Horsted Keynes, Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH17 7AW.

The only shareholder of the company was listed as Sibtain Mohammed Hussain.

The address listed for Sibtain Hussain seems to be an accommodation address at 3rd Floor, 207 Regent Street London W1B 3HH. Again, we contacted them on 12th December 2018 to see if they could help -(update) they have had no dealings with Assist at all and advise me that they occupy the whole building.  so this route won’t help: accommodation address agencies are required to confirm the identity of their clients, so if they were being used they should have more information.

We contacted the Funeral Planning Authority and this is what they had to say about Assist:

We recommend you contact the FCA Unauthorised Business Unit using the following email address: consumer.queries@fca.org.uk and request information on Assist Funeral Plans.  You can do this directly or through Trading Standards / Citizen’s Advice.  It may also be worth registering your concerns with the Police using the action fraud website (https://www.actionfraud.police.uk).  Assist Funeral Plans were not registered with the Funeral Planning Authority but the FPA will provide assistance to you if you and they can and can be contacted at info@funeralplanningauthority.co.uk.

A further disturbing article appears here.

If you have any further information please do let us know, with our Funeral Plan Watchdog hats on.

Over 50s Plans: We hate to disagree but

This is what Martin Lewis says about Over 50s Plans and we really think they have entirely missed the problem from a consumers viewpoint:

Weigh up whether an over-50s’ plan is really worth it

Over-50s’ plans promise to pay a fixed lump sum on death, with no need for a medical, which you could then use to cover your funeral costs.

While these sound like an easy way to protect your loved ones, there’s a crucial term in the small print:

“Premiums are payable for life and you could pay more in than is paid out on death.”

Because the amount it pays out is fixed, if you live a long time you may end up paying more for the plan than you’d ever receive.

So if you’ve got a plan already, don’t just cancel. First, do some sums to see how good or bad these plans work out for you. For full details see our Over 50s’ Life Insurance guide.”

So what is the major problem with Over 50s Plans?

Easy, it is the fact that a very large percentage of them won’t pay out a penny.

Why? Because they only pay out on death if the policy is still active, so the ideal financial scenario for the insurer is that the client pays for many, many years, then gets a bit old or dotty and forgets what the policy is and cancels it. So the insurer gets to keep all the premiums and doesn’t have to pay out so much as a bean!

Many others will keep topping up their plans in an attempt to keep up with funeral plan price inflation – only to find that they can no longer afford the premiums.  Result: you guessed it: the insurer gets to keep all the premiums and doesn’t have to pay out so much as a bean!

I wonder if any of the providers would dare provide the statistics showing what percentage of plans actually pay out?

Footnote: Over 50s plans is a generic name for non-profit whole of life insurance, though the public and some providers use it in a different sense. In our opinion, every sale of a non-profit whole of life plan is likely to be a mis-sale, but as they are not regulated products, I don’t believe compensation is available! Anyway, most people don’t realise there is a problem until it is too late and they are already dead, and for relatives to do anything they would need first o find out about the policy, then prove it was mis-sold, then get a grant of probate and finally complain!!

Our main report on Over 50s Plans is here.