Funeral Costs and Life Insurance


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Most Canadians worry about funeral costs and final expenses. No one wants to leave these costs for their families to cover. Life insurance is the ideal solution. Beneficiaries receive a tax free, lump sum payment to help with final expenses and any other costs. There are many types of plans to choose from.

However, even with life insurance benefits to cover the costs, you don’t want to pay more for funeral services than you have to. An investigation conducted by CBC’s Marketplace and the Toronto Star found that there are funeral homes owned by a large Canadian chain that try to persuade bereaved clients to purchase over-priced package deals.

Prepare Yourself

As with any other purchase, you have to do your homework before buying funeral services. Know what questions to ask and decide which services you want. Josh Slocum, a consumer advocate and executive director of the U.S.-based Funeral Consumer’s Alliance, suggests planning ahead and discussing your plans with your family. This will help you decide how much life insurance you will need.

According to Amy Rigtrup @silvaliningwsar, a 5th generation funeral director, “Pre-planning is a matter of taking the time to think about, and record, your end-of-life desires.”

Slocum says, “Look at the prices of at least three or four funeral homes and comparison shop with their price lists. Even if a death has just occurred, calling two or three different funeral homes can save a lot of money.”

Although this is a difficult and emotionally straining time, it’s important to take the same steps as you would with any other large transaction.
Slocum (Josh Slocum (@FuneralConsumer) goes on to say, “Just because funerals are emotional transactions doesn’t mean consumers should forget they’re also business transactions, but they do. All of a sudden, they lose all the consumer smarts they’ve learned over the years.”

Ask Questions

When presented with a price or package, always ask what is and is not included. Shane Neufeld, an expert in the industry says, “Insist they identify what is not included in their fee structure. Ask for a written quote and insist they sign it.”

Neufeld says funeral homes often quote a base price that doesn’t include expensive extras like the burial, cremation or even the casket or urn. So what are you getting for your money?

Josh Slocum suggests taking along a third party when making funeral arrangements. Someone not as emotionally attached to the death and possibly able to think more clearly.

Neufeld agrees. He says, “Take a trusted, less emotionally vulnerable person along with you. Know your rights — and who you’re dealing with.”

He suggests you find out if the person serving you is a licensed funeral director. If not, then you are probably dealing with a commissioned salesperson.

You have the right to buy only what you want, you don’t necessarily need a package. For example, many items such as urns, flowers and notices may be available directly from local retailers, at substantially lower prices. If the person you are dealing with at the funeral home insists an item is necessary, Slocum says, “Make them explain why.”

Barbara Kate Repa, a lawyer and journalist says, “A reputable funeral director will mention not only the most common types of final arrangements, such as embalming and a traditional earth burial, but will also be willing to discuss other possible options, such as cremation, above-ground burial in a mausoleum, or donating the body to a medical school or clinic as an anatomical gift.”

Don’t be afraid to ask for exactly what you want. “What you have to remember is there are few rules,” says Mark Duffey, president of Everest Funeral Package. “As long as the body is disposed of correctly, there are plenty of things you can do to honour a life and even have fun in the process.”

Embalming is a Choice

The practice of embalming has become so commonplace that people assume it must be done. However, that isn’t true. Funeral homes need your consent before embalming the body and adding the cost to your bill.

According to Neufeld, “It’s only required by law under rare circumstances such as if you’re planning on moving the body out of the province.”
Slocum says, “Funeral homes will often tell people that embalming prevents the spread of diseases, but this is absolutely false. It’s rarely recommended for closed-casket funerals.”

According to Caleb Wilde (Caleb Wilde @CalebWilde, a sixth generation licensed and practising funeral director and embalmer, “The most environmentally friendly form of burial is a natural burial. Plain and simple. Cremation isn’t wonderful for the atmosphere. And embalming fluid isn’t wonderful for the ground.”

Martha-Louise of Manning Funerals says, “Families often asked how long a body will keep without embalming – the simple answer is, in life we are all individuals and in death we are no different. Many things need to be taken into consideration; the condition of the deceased, what illness caused their death, how long they had already been dead, what medication they had been taking, and the climate at the time. Some bodies may begin to deteriorate within hours of death, while others may not show any signs of deterioration for days, but no guarantees can be given with an unembalmed body.”

You have other choices, as well. Most people don’t know that they don’t necessarily have to use the services of a funeral home at all. One option is a transfer service. This allows you to have the death registered and then have the body moved to a cemetery or crematorium. This is a very economical option and a good choice if you prefer to make your own arrangements or a memorial service.

Life Insurance

There are a variety of choices for hard to insure individuals. People with past health issues like cancer or heart disease can still qualify for either Guaranteed Issue or Simplified Issue Life Insurance. Both plans have No Medical Tests but Simplified Issue plans have a short series of health questions and can be a great choice for covering Funeral Costs.

The death benefit on these plans can start from day one, unlike some Guaranteed Issue plans which have a 2 year waiting period on non accidental deaths. Assumption Life, for example has a Simplified Issue plan called Golden Protection plus which has an increasing death benefit which can allow the insured’s family to keep the benefit in-line with inflation.

Simplified-Issue Guaranteed-Issue
No medical tests No medical tests
3 to 41 HEALTH AND LIFESTYLE QUESTIONS. The more questions you can answer “No” to the lower the premiums and the higher the face amounts NO HEALTH AND LIFESTYLE QUESTIONS
Face amounts can be up to $1,000,0000 Face amounts are usually limited to $25,000
Discounts to non-smokers Smokers and non-smokers are often priced the same.
Lower premiums than Guaranteed Issue Coverage Higher Premiums

For additional details on the cost of final expenses in Canada or life insurance to cover final expenses, please contact us at 1866-899-4849, or visit our No Medical Life Insurance Quote Page.

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  • JaVictor
    September 1, 2013 at 12:36 am

    Can I get a quote on $10,000 of life ins. I’m born …. in good health

    • LSM Insurance
      September 1, 2013 at 3:40 pm

      Thanks for the note. The premiums will depend on the type of plan and your smoking status. We will be in touch by email.

  • Clint
    August 30, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    Does Industrial ASlliamze sell Funeral Insurance and I’m better off with them or the plan I saw on TV

    • LSM Insurance
      August 30, 2013 at 12:38 pm

      Thanks for the note Client. Industrial Alliance does offer life insurance, you can use the money to cover Final Expenses or any other related costs. I’m not sure off your particulars or the plan you are referring to on TV so it is hard to say which is better.

  • Barbara
    May 15, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    Who has the best Term 100 policy. I’m thinking this is the way I would like to go. I’m 71 yrs young.

    • LSM Insurance
      May 16, 2013 at 8:32 am

      Hi Barbara, We will send you a separate email now – fewer companies are offering Term 100 policies – the rates will depend on the amount of coverage, your health and smoking status. Thanks

  • Tony
    May 13, 2013 at 1:04 am

    How much is it for a bsic $10,000 life plan for my wife.

    She is 68 has Angina but doesn’t smoke anymore

    • LSM Insurance
      May 13, 2013 at 8:34 am

      Hi Tony,

      A simplified Issue may be a good fit for your wife (no medical tests and a short series of health questions. The premiums will depend on the type of plan – the more questions she can answer “no” to the better the plan she will qualify for. We will send her a separate email now.