Category Archives: pay monthly funeral plans

pay monthly funeral plans

Funeral Planning Authority Code of Practice

CODE OF PRACTICE from 1st January 2020.

 (Note – the FCA will take over the Regulation of Funeral Plans fairly soon)

The Funeral Planning Authority (“the FPA”) is the independent body governing registered pre-paid funeral providers. It aims to ensure that:

 

  • funeral plan providers that are registered with the FPA (“Plan Providers”) maintain high standards of professional conduct; and

 

  • the money that customers pay to a Plan Provider for a funeral plan is safeguarded so that, when the time comes, their funeral will be provided in accordance with that

 

The FPA does this by:

 

  • setting principles for business that govern operations and practices;

 

  • setting stringent minimum requirements for any provider to become an FPA registered provider and to maintain that status;

 

  • having fit and proper controllers of Plan Providers and plan trustees;

 

  • setting rules and standards within which Plan Providers must operate;

 

  • monitoring the activities and outputs of Plan Providers;

 

  • enforcing rules and guidance where necessary;

 

  • making a Pledge to Customers that, in the unlikely event of a Plan Provider becoming insolvent, the other Plan Providers shall co-operate and examine ways in which the FPA might assist in arranging delivery of the funeral of the customers of the insolvent Plan It should be noted this Pledge does not extend to providers that are not registered with the FPA.

 

The FPA’s Rules require the Plan Providers to comply with this Code of Practice and they may be liable to disciplinary action if they fail to do so.

 

  1. PRINCIPLES OF BUSINESS

 

The Code operates to ensure that Plan Providers act in line with high-level principles for business as follows:

 

  • Integrity

 

A Plan Provider must conduct its business with integrity.

 

  • Skill, care and diligence

 

A Plan Provider must conduct its business with due skill, care and diligence.

 

  • Management and control

 

A Plan Provider must take reasonable care to organise and control its affairs responsibly and effectively, with adequate risk management systems.

 

  • Financial prudence

 

A Plan Provider must maintain adequate financial resources.

 

  • Market conduct

 

A Plan Provider must observe proper standards of market conduct.

 

  • Customers’ interests

 

A Plan Provider must pay due regard to the interests of its customers and treat them fairly.

 

  • Communication with clients

 

A Plan Provider must pay due regard to the information needs of its clients, and communicate information to them in a way which is clear, fair and not misleading.

 

  • Conflicts of interest

 

A Plan Provider must manage conflicts of interest fairly, both between itself and its customers and between a customer and another client.

 

  • Customers relationships of trust

 

A Plan Provider must take reasonable care to ensure the suitability of its advice and discretionary decisions it makes for any customer who is entitled to rely upon its judgment.

 

  • Clients’ assets

 

A Plan Provider must arrange adequate protection for clients’ assets when it is responsible for them.

 

  • Relations with regulators

 

A Plan Provider must deal with its regulators in an open and cooperative way, and must disclose to the appropriate regulator appropriately anything relating to the Plan Provider of which that regulator would reasonably expect notice.

 

2.                  CONDUCT

 

Plan Providers, including their staff and their agents’ representatives:

 

  • Must act in a courteous, sensitive, dignified and professional manner and, in particular, must not significantly impair potential customers’ freedom of choice by the use of harassment, coercion or undue influence that is likely to cause them to take a different decision to buy a funeral plan.

 

  • Must not make unsolicited visits, unsolicited telephone calls, undertake unsolicited direct mailing electronically or otherwise, or door to door canvassing. General leaflet drops or media inserts are not specifically precluded by this clause though Plan Providers should consider how these fit in any particular circumstance with the principles for business. In particular, Plan Providers must ensure specific care is taken in respect of residents of nursing homes, residential care homes or similar establishments and any other vulnerable customers; (see section 3 TCF).

 

  • Must have appropriate policies, processes and oversight to identify and deal with vulnerable customers (see 2) in a manner that does not expose them to the potential or actual detriment.

 

  • Must respect the confidential nature of the information given to them and only use that information for its proper

 

  • In recommending another business, must disclose any interest they may have in that

 

  • Must not make misleading comments about the quality or appropriateness of any funeral plan which a customer has already purchased or is thinking of As defined by the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs) which specifically refers to unfair commercial practices, misleading actions and omissions.

 

  • Must maintain comprehensive records of all interactions with customers to the extent allowed by Data Protection Regulations.

 

  • Must take every reasonable step to ensure that they or their agents do not undertake any activity that risks bringing the sector into They must also take reasonable steps to notify the FPA of any such activity that comes to their attention.

 

  • From time to time the FPA may issue guidance to support the FPA Rules and/or Code of Plan Providers are required to follow that guidance or have documented reasons for not doing so formally agreed by their governing body.

 

3.                  TREATING CUSTOMERS FAIRLY

 

  • Plan Providers must pay due regard to the interests of their customers and treat them fairly by ensuring that:

 

  • Customers feel confident that they are dealing with a Plan Provider where the fair treatment of customers is central to its culture.

 

  • Products and services marketed and sold are designed to meet the needs of customers.

 

  • Customers are provided with clear information and are kept appropriately informed before, during and after point of sale.

 

  • Where customers receive advice, the advice is suitable and takes account of their circumstances.

 

  • Customers are provided with products and associated services that perform and are of the standard as Plan Providers have led them to expect.

 

  • Customers do not face unreasonable post-sales barriers imposed by Plan Providers to change a plan, redeem or cancel a plan or make a

 

3.2 Vulnerable customers are those who, due to their personal circumstances, are            especially susceptible to detriment, particularly when a firm is not acting with            appropriate levels of Appendix 1 provides guidance on factors the FPA believes           should be considered when assessing whether a customer is or may be              vulnerable.

 

3.3 A Plan Provider must have a written policy that sets out how they will identify and treat vulnerable

 

3.4 Plan Providers will take the necessary steps to identify vulnerable customers or customers in vulnerable This will include ensuring all employees, agents or representative operating on the PlanProvider’s behalf are trained in the Plan Provider’s vulnerable customer policy. The consideration of funeral arrangements can, obviously, often arise at very difficult times. Plan Providers should be sensitive to this and take account of any other factors that might affect decisions to take out a plan or choose a funeral.

 

3.5 Plan Providers will make the necessary effort and time to ensure that vulnerable customers understand all aspects of signing a contract for a funeral Where appropriate, Plan Providers must suggest the involvement of a trusted friend or relative.

 

3.6 Plan Providers are prohibited from generating sales enquires or new orders from the creation, obtaining, distribution, maintenance or use of lists of specific customers that are susceptible to responding to cold calling approaches (sucker lists).

 

3.7 Where a Plan Provider undertakes a home visit for the sale of a funeral plan, the representative must leave immediately if requested to do so or if it becomes apparent that the customer is not interested in the goods or services the business is

 

3.8 Customers must be provided with a written cancellation This notice must inform customers of their right to cancel within 30 days or more of the date the customer received such notice without any cancellation or other fee being applied. This condition applies irrespective of the way the plan was sold.

 

 

4.                  MARKETING AND ADVERTISING

 

4.1 Plan Providers must ensure that any marketing or advertising which they undertake does not bring the funeral planning industry into disrepute and that their marketing and advertising:

 

  • is legal, accurate and, as a minimum, complies with all the other requirements of the British Code of Advertising Practice or other relevant Code of Practice and wider requirements of the Unfair Trading Regulations 2008;

 

  • complies with the Principle set out in 7;

 

  • only contains genuine customer endorsements which have been specifically approved by that customer;

 

  • only contains third party endorsements or sponsorship which have been specifically approved by that third party; and

 

  • makes no unsubstantiated claims about funeral plans or services provided by

 

4.2 Plan Providers must provide their employees, agents and representatives with training and written guidance on sales practices, which ensures that potential customers are given sufficient information before entering into a contract to make informed decisions about buying a funeral plan.

 

5.                  INFORMATION

 

5.1 Plan Providers must provide potential customers with written pre- contractual details of any funeral plan being offered, which clearly sets out the following in writing, irrespective of the preferred medium, electronic or hard copies:

 

  • 5.1.1 Information about the main characteristics of the service to be provided in the funeral

 

  • 5.1.2 The type and cost of funerals and other services which can be provided under the funeral plan including what is specifically included by each plan

 

  • 5.1.3 Pricing information showing the total price and a breakdown where appropriate, it must show VAT, administration charges, any instalment charges and any other costed items whether optional or

 

  • 5.1.4 Clear and transparent disclosure on what is not covered by the funeral plan and the potential for the family or estate to pay further amounts at time of This specifically relates to exclusions, these must not only be referred to in the footnotes.

 

  • 5.1.5 If the plan is paid for by instalments, what happens if someone dies before all payments have been

 

  • 5.1.6  If the plan is a fixed monthly payment insurance based plan details of when contributions are paid and when they cease and either:

 

  • the maximum total contributions that could be paid over the plan duration;

 

or

 

  • customer’s age at which contributions paid would equalthe current price of the equivalent

 

Details  of  any  moratorium  period  should  also  be  stated explicitly.

 

  • 5.1.7 The customer’s right to a full refund if the plan is cancelled within 30 days of its commencement (see Clause 8) and any rights to a refund which the customer has if the plan is cancelled by the customer after that time. This should include prominent reference to any cancellation charge that applies, any restrictions on receiving a refund and where no refund is available confirmation of that fact.

 

  • 5.1.8 What happens if the Plan Provider cannot meet its obligations under the plan.

 

  • 5.1.9 Details of the portability of the plan between different funeral directors, before and after the death of the planholder.

 

  • 5.1.10 How a customer may complain about the Plan Provider or any plan provided and how such complaints will be This should also include details of the option for the customer to refer a complaint to the FPA if dissatisfied.

 

  • 5.1.11 Provide details of the Plan Provider’s name, postal address and contact points.

 

  • 5.1.12 The other terms and conditions which apply to the plan.

 

  • 5.1.13 The fact that the Plan Provider is registered with the Funeral Planning Authority.

 

6.                  CONTRACTS AND DOCUMENTS

 

  • 6.1 Plan Providers must give every person who buys a funeral plan a written document, electronic or hard copy, which sets out the plan’s terms and conditions, the specification of the funeral to be provided and how the funeral plan may be amended or cancelled.

 

  • 6.2 Plan Providers must give every person who buys a funeral plan an electronic or hard copy of the customer’s membership card or certificate of A Plan Provider must replace a lost card or certificate once free of charge but may charge a reasonable fee for providing any further replacement cards or certificates.

 

  • 6.3 As part of the material provided to the planholder there should be a plan summary and a key features document that sets out the services covered by the plan and those that are This may form part of other documents but should be accessible to customers both in terms of format and content.

 

  • 6.4 Plan Providers must ensure that every person who buys a funeral plan is given guidance on either how to register a death or the key contacts needed to begin the process of

 

7.                  PLAN FUNDS

 

  • 7.1. Plan Providers must comply with the FPA’s Rules relating to the security of the plan In particular, those Rules require Plan Providers to either:

 

  • 7.1.1 Pay money received for funeral plans, as soon as practicable, into an account maintained by trustees (the majority of whom must be unconnected with the Plan Provider) who have been approved by the FPA.

 

  • 7.1.2 Have the funds invested by an independent fund manager who is authorised under the Financial Services and Markets Act

 

  • 7.1.3 Have the trust funds audited annually and reviewed by an actuary.

 

  • 7.1.4 Only use the trust funds for their proper purpose; or

 

7.2 Apply money received for funeral plans, as soon as practicable towards a contract of whole life assurance with an authorised person who has permission to effect and carry out such contracts of

 

 

8.                  COMPLAINTS AND DISPUTES

 

  • 8.1 The FPA defines a complaint as: Any expression of dissatisfaction raised by a customer or on behalf of a customer whether oral or written, justifiable or not.

 

  • 8.2 A Plan Provider must have a clearly defined and documented Complaints Process.

 

  • 8.3 Plan Providers must allow complaints to be made by any reasonable means.

 

  • 8.4 A Plan Provider must put in place appropriate management controls and take reasonable steps to ensure that in handling of complaints it identifies and remedies any recurring or systemic

 

  • 8.5 A customer who is dissatisfied with the service provided by a Plan Provider should, in the first place, contact that Plan Provider who must acknowledge receipt of the complaint to the customer in writing within 7 working days of receiving a complaint.

 

  • 8.6 A Plan Provider must provide contact details of the FPA to a customer in the final letter to a complainant and in any holding letter if the complaint is not resolved within 8 weeks of the Plan Provider receiving it.

 

  • 8.7 If a Plan Provider cannot resolve a complaint to the customer’s satisfaction, the customer should contact the FPA (whose address and telephone number are set out below). The FPA provides an independent conciliation and arbitration service.

 

  • 8.8 Plan Providers are required to co-operate with the customer redress procedures and to participate in the independent conciliation and arbitration service mentioned in paragraph 7. Plan Providers are bound by an arbitrator’s decision, subject to the right of the Plan Provider or the customer to seek a review of the decision.

 

 

  • 8.9 If in the course of any conciliation, or following the conclusion of any arbitration, it appears that a Plan Provider has infringed this Code of Practice, the FPA may take disciplinary action against that Plan Provider in accordance with its Rules.

 

  • 8.10 Plan Providers must provide on all price lists and other promotional material an address and email address (or, if this is not practicable, a telephone number) to which communications may be directed.

 

  • 8.11 Plan Providers must have copies of this Code of Practice available to distribute to customers and others free of charge.

 

  • 8.12 Plan Providers must display the logo of the FPA at their place of business and on all price lists and other promotional material.

 

  • 8.13 Plan Providers must co-operate fully with those representing consumers including trading standards officers, Citizens’ Advice Bureau or other consumer advisers.

 

 

9.                  SUPPLIERS, SELLERS OR PROVIDERS OF SERVICES

 

  • Under the FPA Rules, Plan Providers are responsible for the acts and omissions of any third party they work with in providing funeral Consequently, they should have procedures in place to ensure that any third party is operating in line with this Code of Practice and the FPA Rules. The FPA is aware that the situation could arise where more than one Plan Provider, and potentially providers that are not registered with the Authority, may be working with any third party. This does not absolve the Plan Provider from the requirements set out in this section 9 of the Code of Practice.

 

  • As a minimum the FPA would expect a Plan Provider to:

 

  • carry out due diligence before working with a new third party;

 

  • have in place a written contract;

 

  • ensure contractual arrangements require the third party to operate in line with the FPA Rules and Code of Practice;

 

  • ensure that contractual arrangements between the Plan Provider and the third party would cover the right to control messages and marketing materials, requirements in respect of training, requirements in respect of monitoring including access to the source of all data used in the sales process;

 

 

  • set remuneration arrangements, which should not result in product bias or customer detriment either through incentivising inappropriate selling processes and sales or undermining the financial position of the Plan Provider in a manner that risks the ability to deliver any new plan or existing plans;

 

  • restrict the use of sub-agents without specific permission from the Plan Provider (and in any event after appropriate due diligence has been conducted by the Plan Provider); and

 

  • have appropriate termination rights and processes so the Plan Provider can terminate if the third party

 

  • Plan Providers should have in place a clear, structured and documented on-boarding process for any new third

 

  • Plan Providers should monitor the third party operation to ensure that the FPA Rules and Code of Practice are being adhered Such monitoring should be clearly documented and available for inspection on request by the FPA.

 

  • Where a Plan Provider is working with a third party who is working with other funeral plan providers this does not absolve the Plan Provider in respect of their responsibility to ensure the third party is complying with the FPA Rules and Code of

 

 

  1. DATA PROTECTION        ACT       1998      AND       GENERAL        DATA PROTECTION REGULATIONS 2018

 

  • Plan Providers must ensure that they comply fully with GDPR requirements, this includes but is not limited to, asking for customer consent to hold and use personal data, recording consent, managing consent and withdrawal of

 

  • Plan Providers must co-operate fully with the FPA recognising the specific consent given to FPA by customers under data protection regulations to share and discuss customer data for the sole purpose of investigating complaints under clause 7.

 

 

11.              PLEDGE TO CUSTOMERS

 

All Plan Providers shall co-operate in the delivery of the FPA’s “Pledge to Customers” by which, in the event of the insolvency of a Plan Provider, the other Plan Providers will examine ways in which the FPA might assist in arranging delivery of the funeral of the customers of the insolvent Plan Provider. The extent of this co- operation will be at the discretion of the individual Plan Providers.

 

Anyone who experiences difficulty in obtaining services under a funeral plan because a Plan Provider or funeral director is insolvent or no longer in business should immediately contact the FPA.

 

 

 

 

 

Funeral Planning Authority CiC

Barham Court, Teston, Maidstone, Kent, ME18 5BZ Telephone: 0845  601 9619

e-mail:   info@funeralplanningauthority.co.uk

website:   www.funeralplanningauthority.co.uk

© Funeral Planning Authority CiC April 2019

Sensible Approach to Funeral Plan Regulation

Response to call for evidence on Regulation of Pre Paid Funeral Plans

Lastest on funeral plan Regulation.

From Derek Forbes trading as Forbes Management

Contents.

  1. Overall opinion and views by Forbes Management
  2. Appendix – answers to consultation questions 1-18
  3. Background and involvement with statutory and voluntary regulation of legal and financial products and services stretches back over several decades.

The views expressed in this response are the views of Derek Forbes (trading as Forbes Management) alone and do not represent the views of, although may well coincide with, any other individual, firm or organisation. No other individual, firm or organisation has been consulted prior to the submission of this response.

The PPFP sector is in need of regulation, but great care must be taken not to repeat the disruption caused by the FSA (as was) in the late 1980’s when a regulatory regime was created that wiped out the direct selling sector of the life insurance industry by imposing unacceptable administrative burdens on the customer facing sales process. Lengthy fact finds, “reasons why” letters and commission disclosure made the sales process too burdensome for simple domestic sales and almost all life companies disbanded their sales forces. Estimates are that some 40-50,000 hard-working and honest men and women lost their jobs. All to counter the dishonest activities of a few high profile intermediaries who were too clever to be caught anyway and simply went on to engage in other market sectors where they could operate with impunity.

The result is that, today, in the domestic market, hardly anyone buys life insurance, savings plans or individual personal pensions. The government has recently cut bereavement payments to widows with young children. A simple term insurance sold to a young husband would have cost very little for a substantial sum assured. Sadly there is no one left to sell such policies. The saying applies: “Insurance is sold, not bought”.

Retirees who are not in an occupational pension scheme have very little put away for old age and most C1 and lower category individuals rely largely on the OAP for retirement income. This situation and trends will only worsen as the population ages. Financial advisers concentrate almost exclusively on high net worth individuals and corporates. The average age of IFA’s is estimated at around 50+ as very few young people see financial advice (previously known as insurance sales) as a career path.

Had the regulation been directed at the product providers (the life offices), who were obsessed with premium income and manpower at the expense of virtually everything else, this current scenario could have been avoided.  Sadly the life offices did not want to erect any barriers to maximum business and turned a blind eye to malpractice and courted big and sometimes disreputable business producers with “golden hellos”. They refused to monitor the activities of their own salespeople – let alone the independents and tied agencies. Initially “compliance officers” were appointed by the life offices, but were largely ineffective due to the continuous courtship of high producing sales people. In a number of cases the compliance officers were too scared to report on the misdemeanours of the high producers and were told to “lay off”. So the many (both the sales people and the public at large) suffered because of the misdemeanours of the few and the lack of concern by the providers.

Similar situations must not be allowed to arise in the PPFP market, as this kind of over-regulation would similarly kill off the market.

Future regulation of PPFP’s, therefore, should concentrate on the plan providers and not on the client facing sales process. It must be remembered that PPFP sales are hardly ever the main business activity of those who sell them. They are secondary to funeral directors – obviously – as their main function is carrying out funerals. Other advisers, largely will writers and IFA’s, do not see PPFP’s as their main function and are nearly always an ancillary service to existing clients. Excessive administrative burdens such as individual registration, authorisation, extensive paperwork and commission disclosure will simply remove the incentive to sell the products.

Whilst generous commissions may be seen as an incentive to carry on under strict statutory regulation, the plan providers would be disincentivised by excessive compliance burdens such as the supervision of direct (statutory) regulation of customer-facing individual salespeople and firms.

Previous Treasury initiatives to regulate the PPFP sector were more effective. In 1999 consultation took place leading to the inclusion of PPFP’s in the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. This established the two main vehicles for funding PPFP’s – (Regulated Activities Order 2001) I.E. Trust based plans and Life Insurance based plans.

Incidentally I was involved, representing the Society of Will Writers, with the Treasury consultation to regulate will writing in the early 2000’s– this was not pursued. It was a blatant attempt at protectionism by the Law Society. It is interesting to speculate as to from whence comes the impetus for the current PPFP consultation. A diverse market in terms of provision should be encouraged and not be allowed to rest in the control of a few very large providers.

Future regulation should be created to concentrate upon customer protection from the product providers. The providers should be responsible for the activities of those who sell their plans, rather than direct statutory regulation of individuals and firms.

Protection for the customer should be provided in the two main categories of PPFP’s as follows:

Trust based plans.

  1. There should be maximum transparency surrounding the trust and its workings.
  2. An annual trust report should be issued and available to all customers.
  3. The annual report should include a breakdown of trust investments and a description of investment strategy.
  4. A comment on the basis of actuarial valuation of assets to liabilities. For example whilst Government Securities may represent a very safe investment, fluctuating interest rates can have an effect on capital values.
  5. Disclosure of amounts drawn from the trust for marketing initiatives and other activities.
  6. Declaration of any trust fund surpluses and details of how the surplus is distributed – ratio of retention in the trust and distribution to directors and others.
  7. Full disclosure of how the trust attempts to combat inflation. (Recently one major provider uplifted its payments to funeral directors by 1% to cover two years annual inflation).
  8. Breakdown of guaranteed elements of the plan and disbursements, together with administrative costs within each plan.

Life insurance based plans.

  1. Disclosure of the amount of client money allocated to the insurance policy.
  2. Disclosure of any financial relationship between the provider and the life company.
  3. How the life policy combats inflation.

Other safeguards.

Providers should ensure that intermediaries adhere to a recognised code of conduct. No cold calling, no misleading, no pressure selling etc. The Funeral Planning Authority (FPA) will doubtless create a workable model for this.

Thought to be given as to the differences between providers who are funeral directors and providers who are not.

The former can easily instruct their own employed staff to carry out the funerals, and can even conduct funerals arising from funeral plans below cost as “loss leaders” in order to increase market share, but they have no such control over funeral directors who they may appoint in areas where they do not have one of their own FD’s.

For providers who are not FD’s, thought should be given as to the details of the contracts between the provider and the FD and any other financial interest that may exist between the two. Should incentives to sell certain products by differential commission rates depending upon the product sold or enhanced commission or other incentives be offered depending upon the volume of sales submitted by the intermediary? The role of the FPA in all the above will be crucial. Will the FPA have statutory powers to discipline providers who fall short of the codes of behaviour set out by the FPA?

A transparent complaints procedure should be in place. Should all providers be bound to report all complaints to the FPA or should the FPA make regular check on such issues? The role of the CQC in the monitoring of GP practices whilst very much more complex and multi-layered than potential regulation of PPFP’s is a good model for a regulatory regime.

Other issues

The FPA could be required to insist that providers monitor the fitness of secondary agents – individuals or firms. This could be achieved by ensuring that such sales outlets adhere to a strict code of conduct. This could be addressed by ensuring that such parties belong to recognise statutory body I.E. Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) or direct authorisation by the FCA (IFA’s), CII and others such as ILEX, ICA etc.

Voluntary regulators should be included provided that they monitor their members to ensure the members adhere to an acceptable code of conduct to include carrying PI insurance and commit to Continuous Professional Development (CPD). Such bodies would include The Society of Will Writers (SWW) the Institute of Professional Will Writers (IPW) and others.

Consideration should be given to empower the FPA to monitor the terms and conditions issued by providers. Particularly the readability and ease of understanding. Many contracts for PPFP and other goods and services in the marketplace generally have T&C’s that are hard to read and are largely very legalistic, designed to provide a “get out” in cases of dispute. Bearing in mind that many PPFP customers are elderly, maybe with poor eyesight, to make a contract dependent upon the customer having “read and understood” the T&C’s, as many providers do, is unfair. In other market sectors this problem is even worse – consumer credit agreements, car leases etc. are all virtually impossible to understand without legal expertise. In addition, most people just tick “accept” when signing up for services on line. The recent Plain English Campaign www.plainenglish.co.uk should be adopted by those regulating the PPFP sector.

Finally, some products are marketed as “Funeral Plans” but are actually term insurance policies on the life of the customer. In other words just a way of providing a sum of money upon death. Some of these policies are issued with very restrictive conditions, such as cancellation of the policy if one monthly premium is missed.

Is it the intention or within the remit of the consultation to address the way these policies are marketed and a more specific description of their nature be insisted upon?

  1. Appendix

Answers to consultation questions 1-18

Question 1: Are there any other common ways to structure funeral plans, not outlined in this call for evidence?

Answer 1.Not to my knowledge – but some older FD firms still take customer money and “keep it” to fund future funerals without using the approved trust or life assurance channels. The FPA will investigate any such instances that are brought to their attention.

Question 2: Are funeral plan providers always the policyholder of underlying insurance policies? Are you aware of any examples of insurance intermediation within the funeral plan sector?

Answer 2. As far as I know the provider holds the policy on the life of the client as “life of another”. Some IFA’s sell plans.  Also as mentioned above: The relationship between provider and life company should be transparent.

Question 3: Where providers engage with third parties (e.g. funeral directors, charities, external companies), in what capacity do these third parties act and what is their relationship to the funeral plan provider? How are market participants remunerated and do any conflicts of interest arise?

Answer 3. As agents (retailers) of the plan providers’ products. Some FD’s are owned by the provider. Remuneration is usually by commission on plans sold. The FPA limits the percentage of the plan price that can be used to fund all acquisition costs. Non FPA members do not need to follow these guidelines

Question 4: Are there any additional issues you think the government should be aware of in relation to the way in which funeral plan products are structured or sold?

Answer 4. My views are outlined in the main text of my submission

Question 5: How, and through what channels, do funeral plan providers communicate with consumers for the purposes of distributing information, promoting and selling funeral plans?

Answer 5. Differs provider to provider – some communicate fully, some are opaque. Should the ASA be tasked to ensure “honest –truthful etc”. Some advertising copy is clearly designed to avoid important detailed features of the product. E.G. Not a clear explanation of the difference between guaranteed services and disbursements.

Question 6: What are your views on the scale and nature of consumer detriment at the point of sale? Please provide evidence where possible.

Answer 6. Hard to determine. Recent TV documentary exposed overselling. Also see comments in my submission above regarding Terms & Conditions. It should be borne in mind at all times that many PPFP customers are possibly elderly and vulnerable.

Question 7: To what extent is cold calling present within the funeral plan sector and does this present an additional or specific risk to consumers?

Answer 7. There are still outbound call centres. GDPR may improve this, but many are based on ”life style surveys” and client has no recollection of requesting information – probably just filled in survey to enter a competition.

Question 8: How much on average do consumers pay for funeral plans and in what circumstances would consumers pay money directly to funeral providers?

Answer 8. Varies considerably – hopefully based on national averages of “at need” costs. Most plans require money paid direct to provider or associated account. Most providers offer both monthly and single payment options. Monthly plans not to be confused with monthly life assurance term assurance plans advertised as “funeral policies or plans”.

Question: 9: What protections are currently in place for consumers (for example, complaints procedures) and how effective are these protections? How can complaints and claims be brought against funeral plan providers after the death of the customer?

Answer 9. FPA is in a better position to answer – depends on FPA membership and specific procedures. Providers should have complaints procedures. Some providers choose not to be subject to FPA membership and regulation

Question: 10: What protections are currently in place for consumers if a funeral plan provider were to have insufficient money to pay claims, and what is your view of their effectiveness?

Answer 10. Membership of FPA has a degree of protection – maybe should be greater – small issues could be absorbed. Large failures would be problematic.

Question 11: What is your experience of the scale and nature of consumer detriment (if any) that arises once a funeral plan has been entered into? Does this vary for different types of plans?

Answer 11. It does differ – is a funeral director appointed at outset and jointly guarantees with the provider to carry out his services at no extra cost however far into the future the funeral is required?, or does the provider have to search for a provider at time of need? This is particularly important if there is a shortfall in assets to liabilities. Probably does not arise for insurance based plans – only trust based plans – especially if the trust is not fully transparent. The client must not be misled into thinking that a specific funeral director has agreed to the plan when only a preference has been recorded.

Question 12: What are your views on the proposal to bring the sector within the scope of the FOS and/or the FSCS? What are most common types of complaints against funeral providers?

Answer 12. Presumably these remedies are only available to FCA regulated entities, so not advisable for reasons given elsewhere in this response. Unclear about level and types of complaints – providers do not generally publish these, but FPA should have powers to demand records of all complaints. (Rather like CQC does with GP practices).

Question 13: What types of investment strategies are being adopted by trustees who are managing trusts on behalf of funeral plan providers and what is your view on the effectiveness of these strategies in securing the short and long-term interests of plan-holders? Are trust returns withdrawn by providers for revenue raising/profit purposes and, if so, what proportion of these returns are withdrawn in this way?

Answer 13. This is fundamental to the issue of trust fund transparency. Some kind or overall monitoring should be in place – possibly by the FPA. Full reporting of acquisition margins are desirable. Are trust surpluses distributed to directors of the provider company and/or others? How is it decided what should be retained in the trust if a surplus arises?

Question 14: What are your views on the government’s proposal for FCA regulation of all funeral plan contracts and whether such a proposal will meet the government’s stated objectives (as set out above)? Do you consider that an alternative proposal could better meet these objectives?

Answer 14.  FCA regulation would probably impose excessive regulation on sales intermediaries – most would decide not to be involved, thus leading to collapse of the sector. My views set out more fully in my responses above – strengthening role of FPA in particular.

Question 15: How should the regulatory framework apply in relation to funeral plans that consumers have already entered into?

Answer 15. Probably impossible to create an effective structure. Only at need would any problem become apparent. Problems pre-need would be covered by complaints procedures.

Question 16: Should regulation extend beyond funeral plan providers, and apply to intermediaries engaged within the sector? Should such intermediaries become regulated entities, or should they be overseen by funeral plan providers as appointed representatives?

Answer 16. The latter – detailed reasons in my submission above. THIS IS PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT MATTER UNDER CONSIDERATION.

Question 17: What would be the overall impact on the market/your firm if all funeral plan contracts were subject to FCA regulation? Are there specific activities or businesses, such as SMEs, within the sector that would be particularly affected by strengthened regulation? What is your view of the potential costs and benefits of the government’s proposal?

Answer 17. As stated this would be a disaster – my reasons in my submission above.

Question 18: How long would the sector need to adapt to any new regulatory framework the government may seek to put in place?

Answer 18. Quite quickly – a few months for retraining and reprinting and distribution of amended literature. Firms who are not currently members of and regulated by the FPA would take longer as FPA would have to conduct fitness procedures etc.

DEREK FORBES July 2018.

Educated at The City of London School, Derek spent his early years training as a lawyer at The Law Society School of Law and then developed a career in financial services. He studied CII examinations at the Holborn College of Law, Language and Commerce. He was Abbey Life’s advertising and marketing manager in its early days and then became a top sales producer, qualifying for the international Million Dollar Round Table.

Moving into management he became the top branch manager with Crown Life and then National Sales Manager for the direct sales forces of both Sun Alliance and Sun Life.

During this time he was a founder member of the Life Insurance Association and became a main board director of the LIA. When the LIA merged to become the Personal Finance Society, Derek was invited to become an Honorary Life Member of the Personal Finance Authority. After the introduction of statutory regulation, the direct sales sector of the life insurance industry virtually disappeared, so Derek pursued a career as a legal and financial marketing consultant. He became a Law Society approved training provider and senior management trainer at the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management, where he was awarded the Companionship of the Institute.

Seeing the potential of will writing he joined, and was invited to become the Honorary Chancellor of The Society of Will Writers and a member of their Executive Council, arranging and chairing their first ten annual conferences.

For twenty years he has been a business partner of Funeral Planning Services Ltd, designing and distributing funeral plans specifically for the legal and financial professions.

When Funeral Planning Services was taken over by The Ecclesiastical Insurance Company in January 2017, Forbes Management decided to use Funeral Partners Limited as the provider of the Legal & Financial Funeral Plans.

Derek’s knowledge of sales, marketing and management and the effects of regulation is extensive and his funeral planning design and distribution business model is based upon an extensive understanding of the problems and opportunities in the Will Writing and the legal and financial services marketplace.

He has written countless articles and books and has lectured extensively both in the UK and overseas. Mentioned in Debrett’s People of Today, Derek is a Liveryman and a Freeman of the City of London. He has served as a trustee of a number of local charities and has been chairman of his local council.

Funeral Planning Options

Your Funeral Planning Options:

We all think about how our funeral will end up being paid for, so here are some options for you to consider:

1) Keep cash in the bank to pay for the funeral.

Over the last 5 years, your original £2000 might have grown to £2,308.59 if it some emergency hasn’t caused it to be spent, and it hasn’t gone on Care Fees. There are other issues too


Client review.

I can’t thank The Prepaid Funeral Review team enough. They asked me what I wanted and then sent me the details of companies that could offer just what I was looking for. A thoroughly professional, friendly and stress-free experience, and they hold your hand every step of the way. No question is too silly or small. They really do understand and take the time to help. 


2) Take out a typical over 50s life insurance.

Your £2000 plan taken out 5 years ago would still pay out £2000, or nothing at all if you miss a couple of payments. Non-profit whole of life is the technical name, and it is usually only the insurance company that makes the profit, so as far as your family is concerned it will probably be no profit and no interest on many years “savings”!

3) A funeral costing £2000 then would already cost :

According to Sun Life, costs have risen by 36.53% in just 5 years – and it gets worse. They have risen from £1,230 in 1997 to nearly £4000 today  (2017). Conservative estimates suggest that by 2024 a funeral will cost, on average, between £7,000 and £8000.

4) Take out a Prepaid Funeral Plan.

At least that way the major burden of costs will be taken care of.

Not everyone can afford to pay for the whole lot in one go, so there are all sorts of different ways of easing the inevitable problems. Different providers offer their own options, so a chat with us may mean you discover options you had no idea existed.   Or you can invite all their salesmen round to sell to you! At least ask us for a Free copy of our Final Wishes booklet so you can leave some guidance behind even if there is no money for a plan.

So what to do next…

It makes sense to minimise the financial and emotional strain on those left behind. The majority of prepaid funeral plans are paid for in one go, but monthly instalment terms are available too, so most people can afford one.

Just give us a call on 0800 0588 240, or use the enquiry form if it is out of office hours (we have lives!), and we will be pleased to discuss the issues with you, give you any advice and guidance we can, and send you written recommendations (if you wish.)

Monthly Funeral Plans: What Are The Options?

Monthly Prepaid Funeral Plans.

pay funeral plan monthly

Monthly Funeral plans

Not everyone can afford to pay for a funeral plan in one go, so most plans offer some sort of monthly payment plan.  You can, of course, go for the Over 50s style insurance which we dislike intensely.  But proper prepaid funeral can also be paid for on a monthly basis. With most prepaid funeral plans, monthly contributions only go on for a maximum of 10 years – then the plan is fully paid.  Even if you miss instalments you rarely lose everything unless it is very early on. Contrast that with monthly premiums for Over 50s Plans which typically have to be paid until you are 85 or 90 and where you do lose every penny if you miss payments.

Ideally, you should be able to put down some money as a deposit, to reduce the monthly cost, but not all providers insist on one.  So what are the normal offers available?

Do I need a deposit for monthly payment funeral plans?

Not necessarily, but if you have one, it gives us a wider range of plans to make recommendations from. Where a deposit is required, the typical amount is £250. Always bear in mind that you must keep up the payments, as you will lose out if you don’t.  But if you start an instalment plan, then hot financial problems, always talk to the company concerned and try to work something out rather than just getting an automatic penalty.  One company does not return any payments to the client at all!

Low cost monthly funeral plans.

Most plans can be paid in monthly instalments.

  1.  The cheapest type is the Direct Cremation Plan.  They are not really ideal, but some of them will allow you to upgrade them to a more normal plan allowing for a service later on.   That option allows for dramatically lower monthly payments.  But we need to make sure that you have a plan which can be upgraded.  In some cases upgrades can be done at almost the last minute.
  2. The next lowest in monthly cost is the group of plans which pay only the funeral directors fees.  The crematorium or burial costs have to be found elsewhere, as do ministers and doctors fees.  But again, the plans can be upgraded later. These can be used as a way of topping up one of the Over 50s life plans as they lose out to inflation – if you already have one.
  3. Moving up slightly are the new breed of cut down plans.   They are typically only perhaps £5 a month cheaper, but they seriously restrict where and when the funeral is held.  But if that fiver is more than you can stretch too, many can be topped up to the normal full plans below later on.
  4. Then we get to standard funeral plans which cover the basics.  Typically, the funeral director is paid in full.  A substantial allowance is put aside (and inflation linked) to cover crematorium fees, ministers or celebrants fees and the doctors fees.  You can allow for limousines for the family and all sorts of fancy things if you wish. But we believe that the main thing is to cover the basics as far as you are able, and keep the monthly payments at a reasonable level!

We’re happy to chat through the options, without obligation, so why not give us a call!

Paying For Your Funeral In Advance: What Are The Pitfalls?

Paying for your Funeral yourself.

Sorting out the cost of your own funeral in advance has many advantages:

  • The family don’t get a large bill which typically has to be paid within 48 hours, before the funeral can go ahead.
  • There is less for them to fall out over, as you have made the arrangements.
  • The funeral has less chance of guilt-tripping the family into spending more money than they need to or can afford.
  • With funeral cost inflation running at around 6%, and savings earning less than 1%, a prepaid funeral plan is a good investment for the family.
  • It is one less  (major) problem for others to sort out.

Paying for your funeral in advance is a great benefit for those left behind.

paying for your own funeralBut it gives you the peace of mind that you have done the best that you can.  Other pages on this site explore the types of plans and the types of plans to avoid.  But if you would like a free no obligation discussion and independent advice, give the Prepaid Funeral Review Research team a call on 0800 0588 240 or use the enquiry form to the right to ask for more information or a call.

One thing which has caused problems in the past is people paying the funeral director in advance.  If they have the necessary Trust

fund

or another formal scheme in place, that is fine.  Many funeral directors are tied to Dignity or Golden Charter, for example, who have all the required protections in place.  Others may not understand the rules and could put your money (and their freedom!) at risk by not doing things properly. It is very rare for this to happen in the UK but it must be better to talk to us before making a decision.

You can pay for your own funeral in one go, or you can break the cost up into monthly payments spread over anything up to 30 years.  Interest-free instalments are available over 1, 2 or 3 years with top prepaid funeral plan providers.  The bigger the deposit you put down, the lower the payments each month, but some firms accept no deposit plans.   But we only recommend monthly payments where clients are sure they can manage the payments every month.  At least with a proper prepaid funeral plan, you won’t lose every penny if you are late with a couple of payments.

Paying for your funeral: what is covered?

Prepaid funeral plans are NOT all the same, which is why our independent advice is so important.   A typical plan will pay the undertaker, who currently charges around two-thirds of the cost of a typical cremation.  Then there is an allowance towards third party costs – things the undertaker pays for on your behalf.  the basic ones are the crematorium fees, the doctors’ fees and the cost for a minister or celebrant to run the service.

But some plans will only cover the funeral directors fees, leaving your family with an increasingly large bill to pay as the years pass by. Best avoided, unless both you and your family understand the situation, as are cheap cut down plans.  We can run through the options, there is no obligation.