Bereaved famlies are facing surprise bills for thousands of pounds as funeral plans taken out by their lost loved one often don’t even cover the basics.
Paul McLean, who runs Integrity Funeral Care in Hackney, said he often has to break the news to a grieving family that their funeral plan doesn’t cover all their needs.
He told Express.co.uk: “The most expensive part of any burial is the price of the plot and in London in particular we’re talking thousands of pounds, sometimes a five figure sum, just for that nine feet by four feet hole in the ground.
“The cost of a plot and of several other burial services are rarely fully covered in funeral plans, but judging by the number of people I speak to who are shocked by the news, customers are just not being told the truth when they take out these plans.”
Funeral plans often include only a partial allowance towards the costs of a cremation, burial plot or interment fee, which can cost around £950, £3,500 and £1,200 in London alone. The cost of a headstone is often not covered at all, imposing an extra bill for £4,000.
Mr McLean said unfortunately a person will often take out a funeral plan for when they die but not realise the contract does not cover all their needs.
He said: “When you buy a plan, you think I’ve bought the plan, I’m going to put it away somewhere safe with my pension details, with my life insurance details, and my family can deal with that as when.
“But unfortunately, that’s the scenario we are in, whereby the funeral plan companies have got families in a bind.
“You have no reason to read the small print – you may not even know that a plan exists on behalf of your loved one.”
These are some of the costs that are often not covered in a funeral plan with typical costs in London:
- Embalming – £150
- Upgraded coffin – £600
- Casket – £1,000
- Viewing at chapel-at-rest – £150
- Medical certificate – £82
- Headstone – £4,000
He said another problem with the funeral plans is when they are taken out from a big chain, the chain often decides at which branch the deceased is held, which may not suit the family.
Mr McLean spoke of a case where a man whose family he had served before faced this problem, when the man was organising the funeral for his wife.
He said: “When I also explained to him that the full cost of burial wasn’t covered by this plan…to be honest it was just horrible to see the look on his face.
“You could see him immediately start to worry about how he was going to find the extra money. In the end he decided not to use the plan and to get back what money he could, but of course, there was a cancellation fee involved.
“Funeral directors the length and breadth of the country are having identical conversations every day with families who are just simply trying to grieve. It’s so wrong.”
Funeral plans are now under the auspices of the Financial Conduct Authority. The funeral director said there should be a way for a plan to be reviewed free of charge and refunded if it doesn’t meet the family’s needs.
He suggested they could also be renamed as something like ‘Funeral Contribution Plans’ to more accurately describe what they do.
He said: “As it is, people see a glossy ad on daytime TV and think they’re doing the right thing by signing up. It’s not what our profession should be about.”
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