How Much Burial Insurance Do I Need?
Purchasing a burial insurance policy is one of the sure-fire ways to save your family and friends from having to cover funeral expenses in their time of grief.
Also called or final expense insurance, burial insurance is a helpful tool that helps family members pay for a departed family member’s funeral, memorial service, headstone, urn, and other expenses associated with burial or cremation.
Essentially, burial insurance is a type of life insurance policy designed specifically to cater to final expenses, which can be either your burial or cremation expenses. At its core, it is nothing more than a form of whole life insurance.
However, because many people don’t realize that funerals can cost upwards of several thousand dollars, they don’t often think about planning the purchase of a burial insurance policy upfront.
If you are aging and want to save your family and friends from falling into financial hardship when you die, getting a burial insurance policy for, on average, $10,000 should help cover your funeral expenses.
The best burial insurance companies offer affordable plans with widespread coverage, with coverage ranging anywhere between $5,000 and $25,000.
This post will educate you about how much burial insurance you need and other vital aspects of burial insurance.
What is burial insurance?
In a nutshell, burial insurance is a whole life insurance policy. As the name suggests, it is a type of insurance policy that provides money to cover the cost of your burial or cremation expenses.
Even so, it is worth noting that, although the proceeds of burial insurance are usually intended for end-of-life expenses, the beneficiary can technically spend the money on anything.
From the definition, burial insurance is rather, more or less, a marketing term, not an actual policy. Like other policies, burial insurance can be used to cover one person or an entire family.
Burial insurance is usually best suited for people already in the geriatric stage of their life – 50 to 85 years. Some insurance companies may offer plans to young folks, but virtually not under 30 years.
As such, it is safe to say that burial policies do not target people raising a family and who need life insurance to cover bigger lifetime obligations like mortgage, income replacement during prime working years, and kid’s college tuition.
Notably, there are two types of burial policies:
- Simplified issue life insurance:
Usually, this is a policy providing life insurance without a medical exam, but you still need to answer a few health questions.
While it sounds uncomplicated with a solid chance of getting approved, there are a few knockout questions where a “yes” can disqualify you.
Knockout questions relate to living in a nursing home, using a wheelchair, or living with severe health conditions like cardiac complications, diabetes, and cancer.
- Guaranteed issue life insurance:
As the name suggests, this policy offers coverage with no medical exam or questions asked. The only downside is that the insurers tend to charge higher rates to compensate for the additional unknown risk.
A burial expense policy can offer peace of mind and ease the financial burden on your family while they are grieving.
The final expense insurance premiums are payable weekly or monthly, but the amounts can vary wildly depending on several factors, including your age, sex, current health, and the size of your policy. You can also ask for a personalized quote from your insurer.
Burial or cremation: Which one do you need?
Choosing between burial and cremation is a highly personal decision. Oftentimes, deciding to be buried or cremated is influenced by one’s personal beliefs, faith, family tradition, and, not oddly, cost.
Over the past few years, cremation has gained popularity, primarily because it is less expensive when compared to burial – cremation saves money and land space. All in all, there is a lot of confusion around this decision because many people are not aware of the intricacies involving final resting.
Whether you are pre-planning your own final arrangements or responsible for organizing someone else’s, there is a lot that goes into making the final decision.
While, in the past, most people made a decision based on societal and/or religious customs, today, making a decision is more difficult because there are more options that can be customized to fit different beliefs, budgets, and preferences.
If you choose to be cremated, your family members will be paying for cremation, your preferred urn, and (sometimes) a crypt or vault. On the other hand, when you choose burial, the beneficiary of your burial insurance will pay for embalming, your preferred casket, and the actual opening and closing of the grave. No matter your choice, there are transport costs to be incurred.
Your decision will also impact gathering all of the official paperwork, viewings, and whether there will be memorials or funeral services. Of course, each of these comes at an extra cost.
Understanding the basics of each of these services upfront makes it easy to make the big decision, keeping your loved ones from experiencing unneeded stress and confusion when you die.
According to the most recent survey of the National Funeral Directors Association, the average cost of a funeral with burial is $8,500. In comparison, a funeral with viewing and cremation is $6,000.
Cremation laws vary from one state to another, but the entire process involves reducing the body to usually white, cremated remains. Before making the big decision, it is worth noting that cremation is irreversible and not a substitute for a funeral.
Subject to your wishes, family members can bid a goodbye, perform rites of passage, or conduct a funeral service before cremation.
In comparison, traditional burial provides a measure of dignity and respect, allowing the body to decompose naturally.
If you elect to be buried, you can clarify to be embalmed or refrigerated. If there will be viewing, your family will also buy your preferred mementos (jewelry and glasses).
At the end of the day, the choice remains a personal one. Costs, impact on the environment, and religious beliefs play a key role in the final decision.
Factors to consider when choosing burial insurance.
It is easy to see how quickly funeral costs can add up.
That’s why burial insurance should never be something to be taken lightly.
Here are key things that will help you determine how much burial insurance you need.
Will you be embalmed?
Embalming is the art and science of preserving human remains by treating the body with chemicals, typically formaldehyde, to slow down the process of decomposition.
While it won’t stop decay completely, it will allow family members and friends to view your body in a more life-like state.
Like in the case of deciding between burial and cremation, choosing to be embalmed is a personal decision. This is truer considering that there are other, potentially cheaper, alternatives.
Typically, embalming costs between $700 and $1,800. If you wish to be embalmed, it is a good idea to document it when preplanning your final arrangements. This will go a long way towards giving your loved one’s peace of mind.
Notably, embalming is not required by law. Although some states may require embalming or refrigeration if burial doesn’t occur within a certain period, the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Law forbids any funeral home stating anything that suggestively makes embalming a requirement.
If you have purchased a burial plan, embalming should not be a burden for your family.
The kind of casket you want.
Unless you elect to be cremated, you will need to choose the kind of casket you want your body to be buried in. And, if you are purchasing the very essential burial insurance, your premiums and overall coverage might change, depending on the type and style of casket you choose.
When choosing the kind of casket you want to be buried in, keep in mind that the casket is always the main focal point during the funeral service.
Whether you select a wood, metal, or completely eco-friendly casket, the good news is that you will almost certainly have the option to state the personalization you want.
At the bare minimum, you can choose the color of the casket’s interior. No matter your preferred personalization, remember customizations to your casket comes at a cost.
When pre-planning, you can state the customization and special features you want to be added to your casket. Ultimately, the cost of the casket you want will depend on its design and add-ons. It is common knowledge that the more customized the casket, the pricier it will be.
A typical casket will cost anywhere between $2,000 and $5,000. A highly customized casket can cost an excess of $10,000.
Importantly, choose a casket whose price tag resonates with the amount of your burial insurance. You don’t want to overwhelm your family and friends with an exorbitant casket that your burial insurance itself cant afford.
Clarifying the casket you want will help your family choose the right casket for you without going overboard. A reputable funeral home service can help choose the right casket based on your budget and individual needs.
The type of headstone you want.
Choosing a headstone is more than just deciding what the engraving should be. When choosing the headstone you want, the idea is to select an impressive headstone that represents you well and reminds your loved ones about you whenever they encounter the headstone.
The material, style, size, and color of the headstone you want, plus the text and artwork that will go on it, depends on your preferences, consequently affecting the price tag.
When it comes to styles, the options include:
- Flat – Usually rectangular in shape, these headstones are set flat and flush to the ground.
- Bevel – Reminiscent of flat headstones, bevel headstones are raised and cut on a slight angle to resemble a wedge.
- Slant – As the name suggests, these headstones stand upright with a slant face.
- Upright – Typically erected on a sturdy base, these are headstones that pick the style of tablets.
- Memorial benches – Memorial benches are not necessarily headstones as they can be quite long. Common types include pedestal bench, park bench, and harp leg bench.
- Custom – These are headstones that are personalized to match individual needs.
Most headstones are crafted from granite, known for being durable and easy to maintain.
Granite stones also come in a wide variety of colors, making for options to suit many preferences.
Regarding headstone materials, other options include marble and bronze (technically not a stone), but they are relatively pricier.
After choosing the style and material you want, you have ample freedom to select the enhancements and artwork that will be added to your headstone for personalization.
The headstone you choose will differentiate your grave from others in the cemetery, so make sure to pick something unique.
Some headstones add-ons include unique artwork, shape sculpting, porcelain photos, laser etching, vases or flower holes, bronze vet plaques, and bronze hero medallions.
Fully-customized headstones stand out in many ways but will end up raising your burial insurance.
To save your family unnecessary stress when they are grieving, choose a headstone with a reasonable price. It is a no-brainer that a cheaper headstone will keep the burial insurance premium at the lower end.
How far the funeral home is to your home.
Offered by life insurance companies as a whole life policy, burial insurance guarantees to cater to transportation costs incurred during one’s final arrangements.
Considering that each distance traveled in the real world translates to an extra cost, it is extremely important to consider the distance between your home and the funeral home when pre-planning your own final arrangements.
Apparently, the further the funeral home is from your home, the higher the burial insurance you will need.
To get an idea of how much burial insurance you need, you need to find out how much your preferred funeral home may charge from your home to the funeral home and back or to your preferred cemetery.
In today’s mobile world, it is not unusual for someone to die in one city and be moved to another for burial and cremation.
If you live in a city far from your home city, this is another consideration. After all, your place of death doesn’t necessarily need to be your final resting place.
When thinking about the distance from the place of death to a funeral home, then to the cemetery, account for other possibilities like passing away while on vacation (which is a rare case).
Regardless of where you will die, you need to think of a reasonable amount that will show up in your burial insurance.
The kind of service you will use for transportation.
When preplanning your final arrangements, among other things, it is worth noting that transporting human remains can be costly, no matter the means of transport being used. In fact, this is one of the core reasons why you need to purchase burial insurance.
The means and service through which you want your lifeless body to be transported will depend on a few factors. These include the place of death, the overall distance, and common carriers that travel to and from the destination to your home city.
To get an idea of the overall expected costs, you may need to ask for quotes from several local transport service providers. Along with choosing a reasonably priced transport service, you also need to consider the available means.
Depending on distance, ground transportation is more likely to be a cost-effective means that won’t exaggerate the amount you need for burial insurance.
Special requirements will be needed in exceptional cases where the inanimate you may need to be shipped by air.
If you travel frequently, it makes perfect sense to purchase burial insurance whose amount can take care of transporting your remains by air.
After doing your due diligence, you can document the transportation service you want your family to use when transporting your lifeless body.
If it involves international shipping, remember to recommend only “known shipper” services.
Will there be viewing? How many days?
Many people have strong beliefs about how they want their bodies to be handled after they die, while another camp is full of undecided individuals.
No matter the group to which you belong, you can clarify whether you want your lifeless body to be viewed by family members and friends or not.
Deciding whether there will be viewing or not is entirely a personal decision. If you feel very strongly that it is worth it for friends and family to pay their last respects to you after you have passed, then make sure to include it in your final arrangements.
During the viewing, your family and friends share their grief, support each other, and, most importantly, get a chance to say goodbye at a personal level.
If viewing is part of the funeral, according to your wishes, make sure to specify the number of days when viewing will be done. Otherwise, your family will decide how long the viewing will take.
Generally, preparing the body for viewing costs, on average, about $250.
Importantly, if you want your loved one to view your body during your funeral, keep in mind that embalming or refrigeration is an absolute must.
What type of funeral home facilities do you need?
The best funeral home facility for you should be as special as the life you lived. As such, the funeral home you choose should offer an updated, clean, and comfortable facility with caring staff and optimal around-the-clock care.
Finding an ideal funeral home for yourself can go a long way towards relieving your loved ones of the ordeal of choosing a facility for your body while grieving.
The right funeral home can help save hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Even better, a reasonably priced funeral home facility won’t exaggerate your burial insurance.
When choosing the type of funeral home facility you want, there are a number of things that you need to consider to avoid things that may overwhelm your family mentally and financially while arranging for your burial.
Personal preferences play a key role in determining the facility you need, but you need to consider accessibility, safety, ambiance, comfortability, prices, and professionalism.
Before making the big decision, it is a good idea to consult your family members and think together about what feels suitable for you.
An ideal burial home will have caring and compassionate staff who utilize up-to-date technology, communicate a commitment to your family in the event of your death, and are willing to create a unique and meaningful experience for your family.
Most funeral homes have staff, facilities, and equipment necessary to help your family care for your lifeless body and commemorate your life. That said, the funeral home facility you need will immensely depend on personal preferences.
How many death certificates will your family need to close your estate?
After you have passed, there are some practical tasks your family will have to handle. The major projects include closing your accounts and tying up your estate. To accomplish these, your family needs your death certificate.
The big question is, how many death certificates will your family need to close your estate? A quick answer – it depends on the number of accounts and estates you have.
While getting several copies of your death certificates might be difficult for your family, it will be good if the burial insurance will have an amount set for that.
Regarding the number of death certificates required to close your estate, make sure to clarify all the accounts that fall into the above “needs a death certificate” category.
This makes it for your family members to know the number of death certificates they need for the major project.
In most cases, 5-10 death certificates will be okay.
Notably, things have evolved, and most institutions don’t require original death certificates during the closing of the estate. The financial power of your attorney is indispensable in helping your family clone your estate.
How much allowance will you allot for other final expenses?
When it comes to planning your final arrangements, it is almost certain that burial insurance will cater to most of the final expenses.
The only problem could be that the lump sum is given to the beneficiary of your choice, who may use the money for unnecessary expenses.
That said, it is good to pick a responsible beneficiary who will use the lump sum by your insurer to pay for your funeral and any other necessary general financial expense.
Burial insurance is a handy tool for covering the costs of an individual’s final arrangements.
A standard burial insurance policy will cater to funeral home services, burial or cremation, casket or an urn, transportation, vault, headstone, and other necessary final expenses.
On average, you will need burial insurance worth about $10,000 to sponsor all these expenses.
Hopefully, this post sheds light on what you need to know when determining how much burial insurance you need.