NU Online News Service, June 8, 3:15 p.m. – The Louisiana Legislature is calling for the state government to set up a new committee, the Funeral Insurance Advisory Task Force, that will look into consumer complaints about the state’s funeral service insurance policies.

The Louisiana Senate approved a bill, H.C.R. 149, Friday that authorizes the formation of the task force by a 35-0 vote.

The House earlier approved the bill 59-37.

Funeral homes that sell policies promise to deliver funeral packages that include products and services such as caskets and organ music.

Louisiana consumers have accused funeral homes of using cheap-looking caskets and other tactics to force relatives to give up on the prepaid package funerals and buy more expensive funerals themselves, according to press reports.

H.C.R. 149 would require the Louisiana Insurance Department and the State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors to set up a funeral insurance task force that would include one consumer representative appointed by AARP, two representatives appointed by funeral industry groups, and two representatives appointed by the Louisiana Insurers Conference, along with five representatives appointed by the Legislature and state agencies.

Insurance and funeral regulators would have to work with the task force to come up with recommendations for the House Insurance Committee and the Senate Insurance Committee by Feb. 1, 2003.

The sponsor of the bill was Rep. Glenn Ansardi, D-Kenner, La.

More information about the bill is available on the Louisiana House Web site, at http://www.legis.state.la.us/bills/byinst.asp?sessionid=01RS&billtype=HCR&billno=149