Ultimate Guide to Funeral Insurance

life is Short

The problem is we just don’t quite know how short. When we were young we all had dreams of being superheroes and felt invincible. Consequently the last thing on our minds was death. Alas, as we grew older we have had the unfortunate experience of attending more funerals than we would like to. Funeral of relatives, friends, co-workers and our beloved parents, who as much as we though about of being with us forever, eventually pass away. At each funeral event, besides the mourning and reminiscing of our loved ones, the one thing that keeps coming up is how costly and expensive funerals are today. That’s the key word… Today. Tomorrow it will only cost more.

friend-and-co-worker-funeral

What is a funeral cover and do I really need it?

Similar to life insurance, a funeral cover insurance will provide your family with a substantial amount of financial relief towards funeral and burial costs depending on the coverage you purchased. Putting it another way, it is a basic means of protection so that in the event of your passing, the expenses involved in burial and funeral arrangements won’t be a burden or a cause for concern for others.

Funerals are stressful times as it is, so any action you can take to help remove that stress from others will help the ones you care about the most get through the inevitable difficult times a little bit easier.

To be eligible for it you have to be between the age of 21 and 80, and an Australian resident in good health. This is also the main appeal of this type of insurance as it is much less cumbersome and restrictive than a life insurance policy.

Of course, just because you are eligible doesn’t mean you should get funeral protection insurance. For example if you are 21 years old and expect to live until your 50 and over, then it doesn’t make much sense to get it as the premiums will cost more than the insurance cover, many times over.

Do you need it?

Often times there just isn’t enough money saved up to cover ones death, especially when you are living on a low income. Even if you are fortunate enough to have a life insurance policy or superannuation (or sometimes even both) chances are the funds will not be available when it is time to pay the fees for the funeral, causing the people you leave behind to scramble and probably borrow money from others or worse yet, charge their credit cards, to pay for all your end of life expenses.

To avoid this, you can purchase a funeral package insurance which will become immediately available upon your death. The funds will go to a designated beneficiary you chose at he time of the contract, without a prolonged delay or power struggle in the event of a disagreement among members of the family on how the funds should be spent. This will alleviate from your loved ones the financial burden and planning of your funeral arrangements.

Glossary

TERM
DESCRIPTION
Beneficiary The person who will get the funeral benefit upon your death.
Policy anniversary The anniversary of your contract effective date.
Indexation The percentage change in the Australian consumer price index (CPI).
Premiums The monthly amount you pay the insurance company.

How do I know the right amount of Funeral Coverage for me?

The amount you would need depends largely on the type of funeral you would like to have. The main thing you need to decided on is whether you want to have a traditional burial or to be cremated. This choice alone can make the difference in whether the cost would be closer to $5,000 or $15,000.

The reason for the large difference between the two types of funeral is that with burial you would need to actually purchase a plot of land. The land alone without out any other expense can cost at the minimum $5,000 or in some cases $25,000 and above. This would depend not only on the funeral home location but also the physical spot you choose within the funeral home’s lot.

Other factors that can affect the cost of a funeral will be religion beliefs, cultural traditions, or even your ethnicity. Your Individual background might dictate a certain type of ceremony that can cost extra. Which can then sometimes make it costly for the family.

Here is a short list of what you might need or want when arranging your funeral:

  • Burial or Cremation
  • Coffin or Casket
  • Funeral Director’s fees
  • A burial/cemetery plot
  • A grave marker
  • Headstone
  • Limousine service
  • Urn
  • Permits
  • Funeral notices
  • Flowers
  • Transportation
  • Death certificate
  • Newspaper Funeral notices
  • Celebrant or Clergy
  • A Wake

It would be a good idea to have an open conversation with the family and discuss all of these expenses with them. This way when the time comes everyone will know the plan and would be in agreement as far as what amount is spent and on what. This will help keep costs in line with what was originally planned and covered for by the insurance.

Once you have determined the above options and added them all up, you will have the total amount for the funeral expenses. You should however add an additional 20% to the total as prices do increase over time, giving you a new grand total amount for which you would need funeral protection cover for.

Just remember that you don’t want to find out how much it cost for a funeral on the day you need it. So it is best to plan ahead, even if you don’t end up getting a funeral plan.

How to decided on the best insurance for me?

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Everyone’s needs are different. But, once you calculate the estimated costs of your funeral in won’t be as difficult to find the best insurance. As now you have a target number to work with and you can decide based on your age and total coverage needs how much in premiums will cost you monthly.

For example, if you are a male at the age of 60 and you estimated that your funeral costs will run up to around $25,000, then your monthly premiums will be $110. Now, a woman at the same age for the exact same coverage will only have to pay $82 a month in premiums, 18% percent less to be exact.

Take a look at the tables below to get a better idea of how much in premiums it will cost you for the proper cover insurance. The tables are broken down into Male and Female, Age, and a typical cover amount. These are estimates only, for a more accurate quote call an insurance company.

Male Estimated Premiums

AGE
$5,000
$10,000
$15,000
$20,000
$25,000
$30,000
45 $13 $25 $38 $45 $56 $68
50 $15 $29 $44 $52 $69 $83
55 $18 $35 $53 $63 $79 $95
60 $25 $49 $73 $88 $110 $132
65 $33 $66 $98 $118 $148 $177
70 $44 $87 $130 $155 $195 $233
75 $59 $117 $175 $210 $262 $315

Female Estimated Premiums

AGE
$5,000
$10,000
$15,000
$20,000
$25,000
$30,000
45 $9 $18 $27 $32 $40 $48
50 $10 $20 $30 $37 $46 $55
55 $14 $27 $41 $49 $61 $73
60 $18 $36 $55 $65 $82 $98
65 $24 $48 $72 $86 $108 $129
70 $35 $70 $105 $125 $156 $188
75 $51 $102 $153 $183 $229 $275

If you wondering why women have to pay less, its because in general women live longer, so the probability of death before their premiums surpass the cover amount is much lower. Insurance companies know this and its reflected in the numbers accordingly.

This at-a-glance table should give you a good indication on what is the best insurance for your needs. The prices will vary from company to company and feature to feature but it should give you an idea of what to expect.

What are the important features to look for in a funeral plan?

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like all insurance policies each provider has its own set of guidelines on what features to include in a funeral policy plan and how much to charge for it. Regardless of your age or health condition there are a few important features I would like to mention and it will be up to you and your needs and affordability if you want to included them in your plan.

How much coverage can I get? Most insurance providers should offer anywhere from $5,000 to $30,000 cover, so make sure you get the right amount for your needs.

Is my acceptance guaranteed? All Australian citizens and permanent residents can apply for funeral plan cover. If you need a higher coverage then the maximum auto acceptance guarantee you might need additional medical insurance test.

What happens if I die within the first year? If your death is caused by an accident after you signed the insurance policy and within the first 12 months then you are fully covered and your beneficiary will receive the total lump sum of the cover amount. However, if it was determined to be from a self inflicted act, or from an accident that occurred prior to the effective signed insurance date then your family will only receive the sum of the total premiums paid.

What happens if I can’t pay my premiums? If you are having financial difficulties most insurance providers have a feature called Premium Pause, sometimes referred to as Premium Freeze. Each provider has their own details as to how you can put a pause on your policy and when. But the general rule is for a period of 3 months and when it is in a pause state you are only covered if you die from an accident. Once you resume with paying the premiums, all benefits are reinstated.

For how long will I be paying my premiums? This is probably one of the more important things to look at when choosing your insurance provider. Some insurance companies will stop collecting premiums once you have reached your funeral policy cover amount. Others will cap it based on age, usually 85. I have seen some that will continue to collect premiums until your death but will reduce it to a nominal fee. So make sure you pay extra attention to which plan suits you best.

What if I die outside of Australia? Wherever you die in the world, your funeral protection plan will cover you 24/7 and 365 days a year, worldwide.

I just got my insurance but I have buyers remorse, what can I do? If its within the first 30 days of the policy then you can cancel and you will get your premiums refunded. Keep in mind that some companies will even have a 60 day policy so if you are not certain about your decision, look for a policy that gives you that extended time to cancel just in case you regret your decision. This is called a cooling off period and is available in every insurance plan.

How to compare funeral plans from different providers?

metlife-insurance-company-building

Choosing the right funeral coverage is a tedious process on an already difficult subject all by itself. Which is why it is better to often times look for the most straightforward policy provider without complicated amendments or claim process.

Unfortunately, this has become a much more difficult task as the shear number of insurance providers that offer funeral planning has increased exponentially over the past few years. Fortunately the Australian Security & Investment Commission (ASIC) has started to make substantial changes in the regulation of funeral related financial products and is making a number of pro consumer changes every year to simplify the process or expand the benefits for the average Australian.

This however does not exempt you from doing your own due diligence in choosing a funeral protection package. As with any financial instrument you are the last decision maker so any responsibly in choosing lays on you.

This doesn’t mean you need to hire a private investigator and follow the executives of these insurance companies (even though it might be interesting to see how they are spending your money), instead just ask around. Check their social following and ask fellow fans what is their experience with the company. Check with friends that are financially savvy, they probably went through the same thing and did their own funeral insurance comparison.

Also, you probably already have some type of insurance, be it auto insurance, life insurance, or even income protection insurance. If that is the case, there is a good chance the company you are currently insured with offers funeral plans as well. This might turn out to be the best option as many insurance companies also offer multi-policy discounts. And since you are already familiar with the company you have insurance with it makes only good sense to stay with them sand see what they have to offer as far as funeral protection plans.

Notable Australian funeral plan provier companies

  • Funeral Plan ManagementFuneral Plan Management (FPM) has been providing funeral planning for the past 30 years. They are not only the veteran insurer in this group but also the only one that focuses exclusively on all thing related to planning ahead funeral services. With their many years of experience and expertise in the field, there is no wonder hundreds of thousand of Australians partner with them when it comes to take care of their end of life planning requirements.
  • Real Insurance – The Real Insurance company is a fairly new comer to the Australian market. It began its operations here back in 2005 and in that short time span it was able to make remarkable headway into the insurance market and gather many consumer awards in the process. They offer value-for-the-money insurance products throughout all their line of policies. Even though they have been here for only a short time, they are a subsidiary of one of the biggest insurance companies in the world, the Hollard Group, so they are not planning on going anywhere.
  • Insurance Line – better known for its life insurance products, InsuranceLine has its own advantages when it comes to funeral related insurance plans. It is backed by TOWER insurance, currently known as TAL insurance, so any misgivings about their ability to cover your needs should be put aside, they are here to stay and proved it by the success they have with life insurance.
  • Tower Insurance – Don’t let the name confuse you. Tower has it beginning as a subsidiary to TAL insurance of New Zealand. But in 2011 it changed its name back to TAL. And to make things a bit more confusing ,its now part of the Japanese Dai-Ichi Life. as the largest life insurance company in Australia, Tower will have plenty of coverage options for your funeral needs. Throw in a few industry awards, and you know you are in good hands.

Basic feature comparison for the more popular Insurance Providers

PROVIDER NAME
MAX START AGE
AGE PREMIUMS END
MINIMUM COVER AMOUNT
MAXIMUM COVER AMOUNT
PREMIUM PAUSE FEATURE
CASH BACK FEATURE
AUTO INDEXATION FEATURE
PREMIUM FREEZE FEATURE
LARGE SUM DISCOUNT
FAMILY DISCOUNT
InsuranceLine 80 90 $5,000 $15,000 No No Yes No No 10%
Real 79 90 $3,000 $15,000 No No Yes No No No
GIO 75 85 $5,000 $30,000 Yes 10% Yes Yes 10% 20%
Sureplan 55 60 $1,000 $15,000 No No No No No No
Suncorp 75 85 $5,000 $30,000 Yes 10% Yes Yes 10% 20%

How to file an insurance claim correctly as a family member?

As with any insurance claim filings, being organized is key to getting through the claim sanely. In the event of death of your loved one, the last thing you want to be dealing with is finding the necessary documents to file your claim when you are already flustered by the shock of the death, and on top if it your emotions are running high as it is. This is why it is paramount for you to have all documents organized and ready so when the time comes you wont get lost in the moment of confusion.

Here are some of the documents you will need to have ready when filling a claim:

  • A copy of the Death Certificate
  • A copy of the deceased birth certificate
  • A copy of the deceased passport
  • A copy of your proof of identity
  • A copy of your proof of relationship with the deceased
  • A copy of the insurance policy

You should make sure you get all of the documents copies certified by a Justice of the Peace.

When the death occurs, to the best of your ability (considering the circumstances), immediately contact the insurance provider and provide them with the necessary detail to start the claim. An agent will be assigned to your case and help you with the process so you will be able to attain the insurance payout quickly and painlessly.

If you are having trouble with any of this on your own, involve your children or relatives that will be able to help you. Sometimes just having a second head helps you stay focused in these mentality and emotionally straining times.

How are funeral planning different for Seniors?

 

Riga Old Man

Seniors need to be extra careful when shopping around for funeral plans. Because of their age many insurance companies take advantage of the situation with misleading and emotionally motivated ad campaigns that once you look at the details of the seniors funeral insurance contract the numbers don’t add up to be in your favor.

In these situations when you are looking specifically for a seniors funeral plan protection policy, I would suggest sticking with the more established companies. Since the last thing they want to do is tarnish their brand for a single insurance product, or worst, their legal standing with the Australian government.

The most notable complaint many seniors make is the lack of clear information on the different funeral plans for seniors and the true cost of a funeral. This was one of my main reasons for creating this site to provide you with clear and concise information so any one, not just seniors, can make an informed decision when buying one of the most difficult to accept insurance plans.

If you don’t feel comfortable you understand the funeral plan package you are purchasing you shouldn’t sign it just to get it over with it. Its not just a line on your to do list you can cross out not think about again. You might end up paying dearly while ending up with nothing to show for it. Take your time, ask as many questions as you need to, and once every detail is clear, then and only then commit to the contract.

What about alternative plans like funeral bonds and pre-paid funerals?

Feel free to use this image, just link to www.SeniorLiving.Org

There are alternative options and they are viable choices when planning for funeral protection coverage. However, each has its disadvantages as well as advantages. Let’s go through them.

Pre-paid Funerals

The best thing about pre-paid funeral plans is its direct approach where you deal with the funeral home operator director without a middle man or any other third party. You are basically paying for your funeral in advance. Furthermore, this type of plan lends itself perfectly for those that like to shop around and find the best package ahead of time. Allowing you to make a decision in a more calm and collected manner without stress when the inevitable occurs.

Just make sure you get a copy of the itemized bill you are paying for so there is no misunderstanding between your familiar members and the funeral parlour when it come time to proceed with the funeral.

Once you come to agreement with the funeral home director as to what type of arrangements you want, you then negotiate on price and settle on the amount right then and there. You can then decided if you want to pay for the total amount of the funeral up front or make an initial deposit and make payments for the reminder of the amount.

The biggest disadvantage with this plan is that which ever funeral home you made the arrangement with, that is where you will get buried. So if 10 years from now you move to another city to live closer to your children, you might lose the money you paid for your funeral plan.

Some funeral homes are flexible and are willing to either accept the transfer of your package to another party, in a way selling your burial “property”, while others might do a swap with a near by funeral home in the city you moved to.

Unfortunately you still are running the risk of ending up with an operator that simply decides not to work with you and thus you lose all the money you paid in advance. This is a rare occurrence as the funeral home has its own reputation to keep but sadly it does happen.

Funeral Bonds

funeral bonds are the closest thing to saving on your own. The only difference is that your family can not withdraw the money until after your death as it is locked in to the investment bond.

The best way to go about deciding on the bond amount is once you total up the funeral arrangement costs you would then buy a comparable funeral bond.

For example if you add up all of your funeral expenses and the total comes out to $18,000, then it would make sense for you to get a funeral bond that is in the amount of $20,000. This way even if the bond value does not grow overtime, at least you have some built-in buffer to pay for inflation related increases in the funeral services costs.

like any investment vehicle, take your time and read the bond’s prospectus and make sure you understand the details involved with this type of investment.

Besides keeping your funeral saving separate from all of your other investment accounts, funeral bonds also have the advantage of not tying you up with one specific funeral director.

The only disadvantage is that you won’t be locking your funeral costs in today’s dollars. So if we take the example above and the value of your bond stays the same for the next 10 years yet inflation costs increase the total amount for the funeral service you want by 20%, then your family will need to come up with the difference. Which in this case would be $1,600 dollars.

There is also the slight chance of losing your bond if you decide to stop with the bond and discontinue it. But for that you would have to the check with the product disclosure statements (PDS) as the rules can vary.

A Saving Account

Another alternative plan is also the most simple of the plans, a saving account. In this case you would have to be well disciplined and let your family know what this saving account is for.

Simply get a funeral insurance quote and calculator how much it would cost you on a monthly basis and add that exact amount to your saving account. This way if you end up saving more than you intended to spend on your funeral you can simply stop adding to it and let the saving stay there until it is needed.

If you are still a little confused about which funeral protection plan you should go with, then think about it this way. If you are still working then you might be better off getting a prepaid or funeral bond as opposed to an insurance. The later is what is considered a risk product, since the insurance company is taking a risk you won’t die before the premiums will cover your end of life expenses. And that includes not only your funeral expenses but others in their insurance pool that they lost money on.

What about funeral protection insurance for Pensioners?

older-man-on-the-beach

Most pensioners have the advantage of living independently as their children are now all grown up with their own lives, leaving them with much less financial responsibility to worry about. The mortgage is most likely paid off and any debt left is much reduced or preferably non-existent.

Additionally, as a pensioner the last thing you want to do at this point in your life is to go through an extensive medical examination to check whether you are eligible for life insurance and if you are, at what price. If you are in your 60s or 50s and actually tried looking for life insurance you must have realized that its a bit costly for a decent life cover that will help enough to pay for your end of life expenses.

This is where funeral protection for pensioners might turn out to be the best option for some peace of mind without having it to cost them too much money. Having at least some insurance means you don’t leave your family with the pressure of financing your funeral expenses.

One thing to watch out for when doing reading funeral insurance reviews is to avoid the ones that look too good to be true, the really cheap insurance plans. Most companies that provide such low price insurance coverage with low monthly premiums continue charging the premiums well after you pass the age of 90. This can add up to more than what your funeral costs could ever be.

So take your time and read the contract plan thoroughly. Don’t let those $1 a day commercials entice you, compare a few plans from the traditional insurance providers and read the fine lines. However, it could be worth your while to shop around for an affordable funeral protection plan that won’t leave you exposed to endless premiums but actually put you at ease knowing that your end of life expenses are taken care of.

Just so that you can get a more exact idea of the numbers let me give you an example:

Ruby just retired at the young age of 55. She remembered when her best friend past away a few years back, how costly of a burden that put on her friends family since they had to shoulder all expenses to pay for the burial ceremony. She realized she herself never bothered to get life insurance to help her loved ones pay for her own funeral.

After shopping around she picked an insurance company that will only charge her $20 a week. She was excited as she thought she got her self a bargain deal.

Sadly the insurance agent never took the time to break down what her insurance will really cost if she took into account compound interest and time.

You see, $20 a week comes out to $1,040 a year. Add in a yearly 3% interest and after 10 years the future value comes out to about $12,300. That is more than she planned on spending on her funeral since she only wanted to be cremated and without much of fan fare.

But it doesn’t stop there, if she lives another 20 years to the age of 75, her premiums will add up to $28,800! Money she will never see.

And if she cancels her insurance then she will lose all the premiums she paid with no coverage to protect her. Had she instead opened up a saving account, not only would she have enough money to cover her funeral but a large sum left over to either pass on through her will or increase her quality of life and take a few more trips anywhere in the world.

Hard to think of, but Smart to take care of

I know thinking about your funeral can be a difficult thing to do. but just imagine how much more difficult it will be for your loved ones to deal with it when you are not around. a little bit of preparation can make an already difficult event and little bit less so.

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“It wasn’t easy but once it was done we felt good about our decision”. – The Robinsons

 

life is Short The problem is we just don’t quite know how short. When we were young we all had dreams of being superheroes and felt invincible. Consequently the last thing on our minds was death. Alas, as we grew older we have had the unfortunate experience of attending more funerals than we would like to. Funeral of relatives, friends, co-workers and our beloved parents, who as much as we though about of being with us forever, eventually pass away. At each funeral event, besides the mourning and reminiscing of our loved ones,…continue reading →