None of us wants to think about the day we die, let alone planning our own funerals. But by avoiding the subject, we often leave our loved ones vulnerable to financial hardship if there isn’t a plan in place. For most funerals, the total cost can be more than $10,000, leaving families with the difficult choice of how to honor your life without going into debt.

Options such as life insurance can help to provide coverage for your family if you die. Specifically, final expense life insurance is an affordable insurance policy designed to cover end-of-life expenses, such as medical care and funeral costs. In addition to final expense insurance, there are several options available that can help your loved ones financially.

Insurify can help you quickly review different life insurance policies that can cover your funeral costs and end-of-life expenses. By simply answering a few questions, you will be able to review quotes from more than 20 reputable insurers, all on the same page. 

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The Cost of Funeral Services—A Breakdown 

As mentioned before, the cost of a funeral often surprises many people. Some fees and costs aren’t often considered when planning for a funeral. To help you and your family get a better understanding of what prices to expect, we have outlined the most common funeral services that you will need to budget and pay for.

Service Average Cost 
Basic Services $2,500
Funeral Home  $500
Funeral Home Staff $500
Embalming $725
Cosmetic Services $250
Casket $2,500
Grave Liner $500
Cremation $750
Transportation & Hearse $1,000
Purchase of Plot $2,000
Funeral Ceremony/Burial Costs $925

For a complete list of costs, the Federal Trade Commission provides a funeral pricing checklist to help you navigate the funeral planning process.

From the list above, you can see that a lot of services and fees go into determining the average funeral cost. To know exactly what total price you should be worried about, you must consider whether you want a cremation service or a traditional burial. Each comes with its own set of fees and services that you will need to budget for. Below are just a couple of things to consider when determining which option is best for you.

How Much Do Cremation Services Cost?

There are many reasons why you might consider a cremation service over a burial funeral service. Not only can loved ones keep or spread your ashes in a memorable location, but it also tends to be the cheaper of the two options. In most cases, the average cremation cost is $6,250 for a full service. Below is a list of items that would fall under the cost of a full cremation service:

  • Basic Service Fees
  • Transfer of Remains
  • Embalming
  • Cosmetic Preparation 
  • Venue for Viewing
  • Funeral Home Staff
  • Transportation
  • Memorial Prints
  • Cremation Fees
  • Cremation Casket
  • Urn

As you look through the list, you may notice a few things that you aren’t interested in having if you plan to be cremated. Flexibility is one of the biggest advantages of going the cremation route, as you can decide to skip items such as the urn or prints. Some people may even decide to host the service at their home or another location that has sentimental value.

These adjustments make the cost of a cremation service substantially less. For some direct cremations, the pricing can range from $500 to $1,000, depending on which state you are in.

What Does It Cost to Be Buried?

Comparably, the cost of being buried is well above that of being cremated. According to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), the average cost of a funeral and burial is $7,350. If you opt to have a burial vault for your coffin to sit in, then your average cost jumps to $8,750.

Many people might be surprised to find out that the $7,350 figure includes neither a plot at a gravesite nor a headstone. Depending on which you prefer, a burial plot will normally cost $1,000–$2,000 for a public cemetery and $2,000–$5,000 for a private option. 

Unlike cremations, burials include an abundance of options you can add to your memorial services, including vaults, mausoleums, graveside service, and premier upright headstones. For anyone considering upgrades, it is important to note that there will be an increase in overall price as well. For example, basic grave marker headstones are typically around $1,000, while custom upright headstones can cost as much as $5,000.

The cost of the funeral can be a big financial burden for the family members of the deceased. Often, unexpected funerals can cost upwards of $15,000 if you don’t already have a grave plot paid for. One way to ensure your family won’t have to worry about funding your funeral expenses is to purchase life insurance or final expense insurance. 

Another proactive way to prevent excessive funeral costs is to purchase your grave plot in advance. Often, if you buy a family plot, you can reserve several side-by-side locations so that you can be buried next to your loved ones. Cemeteries will sometimes even give out discounts if you buy multiple plots at one time.

Comparing quotes and prices is easy with Insurify. By answering only a few quick questions, you will be taken to a dashboard displaying all of your coverage options in one easy-to-use location. 

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Costs Associated with a Funeral Service or Wake

One option for people looking for ways to save a little on funeral expenses is potentially not having a service or wake. Most services run around $5,000 after all the fees are added up. By skipping the viewing and having a direct burial, you may be able to save thousands of dollars overall and have the death certificate delivered to you.

Saving on Funeral Costs

The process of burying a loved one can be difficult enough without having to worry about how you are going to pay for the funeral costs. Luckily, there are a couple of things you can do to save while still having a respectful service. 

Here are six steps you should consider to reduce funeral expenses:

Inquire about the general price list. What many funeral homes won’t tell you is that they are required by law to show you a general price list upon request. It is common for funeral providers to inflate prices when speaking with you verbally, hoping that you will agree to them. However, if you get them to show their price list, you can select what services and goods you want while getting a lower price.

Obtain multiple estimates. Similar to any other service, it is a good idea to reach out to a minimum of four funeral homes. Obtaining multiple estimates will allow you to get exactly what you are looking for at the best price. 

Don’t share your budget. It is a good idea to keep your budget between you and your family. Sharing this information with a funeral home can lead to you paying more for certain services.

Shop around for a casket or urn – Many people aren’t aware that they aren’t required to buy a casket, urn, prayer cards, or flowers from the funeral home. Shopping around allows you to browse items until you find the right one or one that is much cheaper. 

Consider optional viewing. Unless you are waiting for an extended period of time, you might not need embalming and body preparation. Instead, ask the funeral home about refrigeration services to preserve the body until it is time to be buried. 

Think about a direct cremation or burial. The most common way to cut costs is to have a direct cremation or direct burial. In a direct cremation, there are no funeral arrangements and the ashes are returned to the family once cremated. With a direct burial, there is no service or traditional funeral ceremony. The result is an overall price reduction of thousands of dollars. 

Offset Funeral Costs with Final Expense Insurance

One way to offset funeral costs is with final expense insurance. A final expense life insurance, or burial insurance plan, will assist with paying for end-of-life expenses, such as medical care or funeral costs. Unlike a regular life insurance plan, final expense insurance provides just enough coverage to pay for the cost of your death and funeral arrangements.

Similar to other permanent life insurance plans, burial insurance will remain intact until your passing, as long as you pay your premiums. However, unlike most life insurance policies, you aren’t required to partake in a medical exam to receive coverage. Typically, there are a few questions that need to be answered. 

Many beneficiaries use the death benefit to pay for expenses associated with burials and cremations, like caskets, urns, and other basic service fees. This not only helps alleviate the financial burden that comes with an unexpected death but allows the family members to focus on healing and handling their grief. 

When considering final expense insurance, you will have the option to decide between guaranteed issue life insurance and simplified issue life insurance. Both are great options but vary slightly in the maximum benefit amounts, pricing, and amount of medical information required. 

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance

For applicants who have a complicated medical history, guaranteed issue life insurance is a great option when it comes to paying for final expenses. These types of policies are often near-certain, and many providers will offer coverage regardless of your health status. Since there is more leniency in the application process, these plans are often more expensive and offer less coverage. 

Simplified Issue Life Insurance

Some applicants may not qualify for a traditional life insurance policy but are only rated as moderately risky to insurers, making simplified issue life insurance a good option for them. While it comes with a more detailed medical questionnaire, no medical exam is usually required. Prices tend to be less than guaranteed issue life insurance, and the coverage amounts can be as high as $50,000.

Buy the Right Life Insurance for You and Your Family

While funeral planning is the last thing anyone wants to do, it is an important step in ensuring your family isn’t left with a financial burden after your passing. A life insurance plan and final expense life insurance are both great ways to ensure your end-of-life medical expenses and funeral costs are covered. 

Even though making the decision to purchase life insurance is a great first step in securing your future, there is more to consider. When buying life insurance or final expense insurance, you should consider the potential price of your monthly premiums, additional coverage, length of term (if you decide to purchase a term life insurance policy), and your intention for the death benefit.

If you only need coverage to pay for the costs of your funeral and expenses related to your end-of-life care, then final expense life insurance is probably the best option for you. However, if you want additional coverage and flexibility in how your death benefit is used, then a traditional life insurance policy is the best option.

Regardless of which product you select, it is important to shop around for quotes. This not only helps you receive the best possible rate but allows you to select the coverage that best suits your current situation.

With Insurify, we make buying life insurance quick and easy. By answering only a few simple questions, you will receive multiple quotes from reputable insurers within a matter of minutes. Comparing your quotes is easily done, thanks to our one-page dashboard that allows you to view more than 20 quotes at once. 

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Updated April 14, 2021

Doug Shaffer is an insurance writer for Insurify. He has had the opportunity to write for several large, national insurance carriers in the past and brings with him over six years of experience working with both business and consumer products. Even though he enjoys writing for most product lines, he loves auto insurance the most. During the moments he manages to break away from the keyboard, he can be found spending time with his family.