Turnkey Death Planning Programs Are Working In The United States

To The Editor:

Although the article by Norse Blazzard and Judith Hasenauer in the Dec. 8 issue of National Underwriter rightly advocated the notion of advance funeral planning and funding, they are perhaps unaware that it is, in fact, a thriving business in America.

Turnkey death planning or “prearrangement,” as it is known in the funeral industry, is a growing business with roots going back for decades. Approximately $5 billion in prearranged funerals will be funded in 2003, $3 billion in insurance and $2 billion in bank trust. The funding covers funeral goods and services, and the insurance or trust product grows during the life of the policy owner to offset inflation. In fact, many funeral directors guarantee acceptance of the funeral insurance or trust proceeds as full payment at the time of fulfillment, regardless of what their future price list states.

While it is true that a funeral director has a vested interest in the sale of funeral goods and services, it is equally true that he or she has a vested interest in a long-term relationship with his or her community. Furthermore, many directors agree that they are more suited to “serve” than “sell,” in which case they wisely find a capable agent to represent the funeral home. A great deal of training is given to preneed sales agents so that there is a complete understanding of the mission, value and benefits offered by the firm.

Reading the article it appears the authors may not realize there exist many financial services resources that are either dedicated solely to preneed insurance funding or that have units dedicated to this line. These companies develop partnerships with funeral directors and preneed sales professionals to aid families in determining what is best in terms of funding for their funeral and burial needs.

In addition, these firms provide marketing and support to help funeral providers grow their preneed business.

With help from a funding company, funeral directors and their staffs are becoming the full-service resource, the “concierge” service provider, referenced in the article.

Dean Lambert
Director of Marketing and Communications
Homesteaders Life Company
Des Moines, Iowa


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, January 2, 2004. Copyright 2004 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.