End of 2020 will see 1.6M funeral plans in force

By the end of 2020, it is estimated that there will be almost 1.6 million new funeral plans sold, according to recent research.

Market research consultancy, IRN Research, this week published the ‘Funeral Plans Consumer Research Report 2020’ which looks at the pre-paid funeral plan market and sets that into the context of how consumers pay for their funeral. It considers consumer use of funeral plans and other means they use to pay for their funeral, especially over50s insurance. It includes an assessment of the size of the market and its trends, and profiles of leading suppliers.

While the number has continued to rise in recent years, there has been a notable slowdown in growth in recent years. The number of new sales has declined steadily since 2016 mainly because of competition from over50s life insurance policies. Like the UK economy, the funeral plan market has faced a roller coaster year in 2020 because of COVID-19. As a result of COVID-19, net new sales in 2020 (gross sales less plans drawn down) are expected to be only around one-quarter of the number seen in 2019.

There are results from a nationally representative survey of 2,093 consumers exploring their understanding of funeral plans, and a survey of 196 consumers that have funeral plans. The funeral plan market is being reshaped today by a number of key factors, including:

  • COVID-19, leading to a significant rise in deaths in 2020 and possibly into 2021, thereby increasing the number of plans drawn down and making it harder for funeral directors to sell new plans.
  • Increasing competition from substitute products like over 50s life insurance and traditional life insurance.
  • The continued rise in funeral costs.
  • Proposed new FCA regulation of funeral plans, which will significantly raise costs for plan providers and possibly prevent some from selling new policies.

Dealing with funeral costs

If you arrange the funeral with a funeral director, you’re responsible for the costs. You should ask to see a price list before choosing a funeral, or explain how much you have to spend and see what services are possible.

The person who died might have paid for their funeral already. This is called a funeral plan. If you don’t know if there’s a funeral plan, you can:

  • check the will
  • ask the person’s close friends and relatives
  • ask local funeral directors

You might be able to get help paying for the funeral if you’re on benefits. Check if you can get a Funeral Expenses Payment on GOV.UK.

Getting a written estimate

Once you’ve chosen the funeral, you should be given a written estimate giving a breakdown of all of the costs involved. Ask for one if it’s not provided.

If you want to compare costs, you can contact other funeral directors, or ask someone else to help you with this.

Paying for the funeral

Some funeral directors might ask for a deposit before making the funeral arrangements.

You may be offered a discount to pay for the funeral before or soon after it takes place. If you know the money will be released at a later date to cover the cost, you might want to consider a bank loan or overdraft to pay early.

Money may be released later, if the person who has died made arrangements to pay for their funeral through an insurance or other policy, or if money is released after their estate has been dealt with.

If there is a legal claim for negligence against someone for the death, the cost of the funeral can be claimed as compensation.

Otherwise, you may agree payment by instalment, or pay after the legal process of dealing with the person’s estate has been settled.

Only 15 mourners allowed at wakes under new Covid rules – yet 30 can go to funerals

A new limit has been put on the number of people allowed to attend gatherings after funerals as Boris Johnson unveiled a three-tier lockdown system for England.

Only 15 mourners can attend a wake under the latest coronavirus rules.

Boris Johnson unveiled a new three-tier lockdown system, where areas across England will be labelled as ‘medium’, ‘high’ or ‘very high’ risk of coronavirus.

The new rules are suppose to “simplify and standardise our local rules”, the Prime Minister said, as well as stamping out the spread of the virus in areas where it is spiralling out of control.

But the fine print of the rules reveals a number of quirks in the system.

Funerals are permitted to go ahead with up to 30 mourners regardless of the Covid-19 alert level.

A report from the Mirror advises that:

The number allowed to attend a wake has been cut to 15 in Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 areas.

Government guidance did not previously include a 15-person limit on gatherings after a funeral service.

The existing social distancing rules continue to apply, such as keeping two metres apart and wearing a face covering indoors.

Wedding ceremonies can go ahead as long as there are no more than 15 guests

But receptions will be completely banned in areas in the strictest ‘Tier 3’ lockdown.

Most Popular Funeral Songs

Choosing funeral songs is often seen as an important part of personalising a funeral service for your loved one. It is a chance for you to pay tribute to their personality, their hobbies, or simply say farewell with one of their favourite songs.

Popular funeral songs

Some people choose live music for funerals, commemorating a person’s life with uplifting and happy songs. The choice is completely up to you, and depending on the rules of where the service is being held, there really is no right or wrong.

As funerals become more tailored to reflect the life of the person who has sadly passed away, families are opting for modern songs to be played at the service.

Here are some of the most popular funeral songs:

  • My Way – Frank Sinatra
  • Angels – Robbie Williams
  • The Best – Tina Turner
  • Wind Beneath My Wings – Bette Midler
  • Always Look on the Bright Side of Life – Eric Idle (Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian’)
  • Time to Say Goodbye – Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli
  • You’ll Never Walk Alone – Gerry and the Pacemakers
  • You Raise Me Up – Westlife
  • See You Again – Wiz Khalifa

Classical funeral music

Classical music remains a popular choice for funerals, setting the stage for an emotional and moving service. Many people opt for light classical music for funerals, whilst others may prefer a more dramatic piece which reflects the personality of their loved one.

Some of the most popular classical music for funerals include:

  • Canon in D – Paachelbel
  • Nimrod from Enigma Variations – Elgar
  • The Four Seasons – Vivaldi
  • Ave Maria – Schubert
  • Pie Jesu – Fauré
  • Adagio – Albinoni
  • Air on a G String – Bach

Creative ideas for a special funeral

Remembering your loved ones in a unique and special way. Buckley Memorials have put a few ideas together to add something unusual and memorable together for the celebration of life.

Choose a personalised casket

People are becoming increasingly creative with coffin and casket choices as a way of celebrating a person’s life and their interests.

Some coffin-makers specialise in colourful and patterned coffins, with a vast range of designs, from flowers, butterflies and stars, to music-themed designs, national flags and animals. Some companies even allow you to custom design a coffin with a specific image.

Another option is choosing a plain coffin and inviting close friends and family members to decorate it with drawings or messages for their loved one. You could use permanent marker pens, paint, crayons or stickers. Some people find that being closely involved in such a way helps them understand the grief they are feeling and say goodbye to their loved one.

Personalise the order of service

Order of service booklets are often handed out at funerals. Most commonly they are quite plain, with perhaps one photograph on the front cover. However, these booklets are another opportunity to personalise the funeral.

The cover could be a collage of many different photographs of the person who has passed away. You might even add captions to each photo to explain where and when it was taken. Not only will this look colourful, it will also serve as a unique keepsake for the mourners to take away. Mourners who are not close friends or family may not have access to photographs of the person who has passed away, so this is a fitting way to share memories of them with everyone in the congregation.

Create a memory board

Use a freestanding noticeboard to create a collage of photographs to display at the funeral and wake. This creates a place for mourners to come together and share memories.

You could expand this idea by providing labels or cards for guests to write on and add to the board. They could leave memories, messages, or even write down their favourite things about the person who has passed away.

After the wake the family can save the photographs and messages in a photo album as a lasting memorial.

Don’t be afraid to be colourful

It is becoming more and more common for people to request ‘anything but black’ for a funeral, whether that’s the dress code, hearse or casket.

You can ask mourners to wear bright colours, or an item of a particular colour, if your loved one had a favourite. Alternatively, you could hand out flowers of their favourite colours at the entrance to the funeral service. These could then be placed onto the coffin before burial or mourners could take them home as a keepsake.

Supporting a grieving loved one from afar during the Coronavirus Lockdown

Knowing how to support a friend or family member through grief can be tough, but when you can’t be with them, it can make you feel useless. Making sure the person isn’t on their own is often the first thing we do when someone suffers a loss, but what can you do when you can’t be there in person to make them a cup of tea, listen to them and give them a hug?

In this blog, Buckley Memorials will look at some of the ways you can support grieving friend or family member when you can’t be by their side during this time.

Keep in regular contact 

Even when we can’t be close to our loved ones, after a loss, regular contact goes a long way – even if it’s just a text or a quick phone call. It’s so important to ensure that your friends and family know that you are there for them and that they are not alone.

Help out with errands where possible 

When someone is grieving, their day-to-day life can take a back seat. Things may need cleaning; bills might need paying and food might need buying. Although it is easier to help out in person, even from afar, there are still ways you can be of help. During the current Coronavirus Pandemic it may also be a massive help to somebody that is high risk and can’t just ‘pop’ to the shops. The little things could really help the person in need.

Send them a thoughtful gift

Sending a small but thoughtful git to let them know you are thinking of them may mean the world to someone who is feeling a little down. Whether you want to send them a little self-care hamper or a beautiful bouquet of flowers, a gift is the perfect way of showing how much you care. While you can’t give them a hug this could be the perfect alternative.

Talk to them and keep their loved one’s memory alive

When someone dies, they may no longer be here in person, but their memory is still alive. Although it’s tempting to avoid talking about the person that died as you feel you may upset the person, actually, it can really help those who are grieving to process their feelings especially when we cannot get out to talk to many people currently.

How exercise can help with grief

As we are currently locked down due to the current Coronavirus Pandemic we are being encourage to get outside and exercise as Gyms & Fitness Centres have been closed.

Exercising has many benefits, and for some, it even helped them coped through grief. In this guide, we look at how exercise can help people cope with loss.

The mixture of emotions you experience after losing a loved one can be extremely difficult to manage, and although exercise can’t take away what you’re going through, it can help ease the pain. It’s no secret that exercise brings mental benefits as well as physical, with it being an efficient way of boosting your mood, decreasing your stress levels and helping you sleep better, even a gentle stroll can help put you in a positive mindset.

Remember to do things at your own pace – this is all to help you.

When you think of exercising you may picture yourself in the gym doing an intense workout but remember there are plenty of less strenuous options. If you were an avid gym-goer before grieving, try to avoid putting pressure on yourself to keep up the standards that you once had, as your body is already trying to process enough. Even simply walking to your local shop and back, doing some gardening or stretches in the comfort of your own home, can help you feel more positive.

Here are some exercise ideas you can do to help with grief:

  • Going on a stroll or jog in your local nature spot.
  • Doing a simple at-home yoga routine.
  • Walking the dog.
  • Doing some gardening.
  • Going for a swim.

If you’ve recently lost someone and need advice picking memorial headstones or finding one that honours your loved one, don’t hesitate to contact our help team by phoning 0800 093 6800 or emailing contact@buckleymemorials.com.

Coronavirus and Funerals: FAQs

Can I arrange a funeral during the pandemic?

Yes, you can still go ahead and arrange a funeral. Please be aware that while funeral homes will remain open, funerals should be arranged over the phone or via other electronic means, wherever possible.

Can I arrange a funeral if I have coronavirus symptoms?

If you or anyone else involved in arranging a funeral has symptoms of coronavirus, or has tested positive for the infection, please remain self-isolated and follow the government’s advice. You can still arrange a funeral online, or over the phone.

Can I attend a funeral during the pandemic?

The government has advised that funeral services should be restricted to the smallest possible number of attendees to help reduce the risk of spreading the infection. Numbers can be determined by the size and circumstance of the venue.

You should only consider attending a funeral if you are a member of the same household or immediate family member*. People who are clinically vulnerable can attend, with measures put in place to reduce their risk. Additionally, people self-isolating because someone in their household is ill may attend if they do not have symptoms themselves.

However, if you do attend, be sure to observe social distancing guidelines of two metres from other people, and do not make physical contact with anyone from outside of your household.

Any individual displaying symptoms of coronavirus should not attend.

*Immediate family is defined as:

  • Spouse/partner
  • Parents/carers
  • Brothers/sisters
  • Children (and partners)

How should I let people know about an upcoming funeral?

The government has advised that you do not publicly advertise the time or location of a funeral. This reduces the risk of others arriving unexpectedly.

If anyone unexpected does turn up, they may be turned away, which could be distressing for them and the bereaved family.

Is there any way that I can view a service online?

Yes, there are several ways that funeral services can be viewed over the internet. The most common way is via webcasting, or live streaming. Many funeral directors now offer this service which allows many people to attend a funeral, without putting anyone at risk.

How funerals have been affected by Covid-19

The coronavirus pandemic has presented an unprecedented set of challenges for bereaved families who are having to arrange funeral services for loved ones, as well as many mourners who wish to pay their final respects.

Whilst funerals are still able to go ahead, there have been some important changes. The National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD), alongside several other funeral related organisations, have formed the Deceased Management Advisory Group (DMAG), which is regularly liaising with government officials and cabinet members on the sector’s response to Covid-19.

Things have now been adapted so that a lot of the legal requirements can be done online, minimising the need for actual contact. The certificate needed to register a death (MCCD) and medical certificates from the hospital, coroner or your doctor are now transferred by email. There are, of course, stringent codes to adhere to in all of this, but the system is working well. Registering a death now cannot be done in person by attending a registry office either, but is instead done by telephone, with the required documentation then emailed to the necessary authorities.

Though government directives are changing all the time, churches and chapels are currently closed, along with all buildings used by the public, such as clubs, pubs and hotels. Graveside services and services at the crematorium are however allowed, albeit with reduced numbers and with everyone strictly observing the two metre social distancing guidelines for the safety of everyone involved.

At present, up to 10 people can attend funerals, which should be only the closest members of the family. In many cases, it is not the way families would like to say farewell and it is especially difficult if the family have not been able to visit their loved one in hospital or a care home. Family members – or very close friends if no family – can attend the service even if they are in the vulnerable category or are self-isolating as long as they do not have symptoms of Covid-19 themselves and that they strictly observe the social distancing rules.

Many families are intending to hold memorial services or celebrations of their loved ones’ lives when the current restrictions are lifted, and there are certainly plans being considered for special services of Remembrance and Thanksgiving for those who have died during this crisis, by the crematoriums, churches and chapels.

How much does a funeral cost?

The average cost of a funeral in the UK is £3,757.

On average, the cost for a burial is £4,267, whilst the average cost for a cremation is £3,247.

There are many things to think about and decide when arranging a funeral. It is often a difficult time for family and friends who are dealing with loss. A funeral is also, to some people’s surprise, a lot more expensive than they thought, often costing thousands of pounds.

Things to consider

You may be arranging a funeral while coping with grief and feeling you must act quickly, and with little or no recent experience. Some people have strong ideas about what a funeral should be like and what a good send-off should be.

It’s worth considering the following points:

  • Choose a funeral that is affordable and is right for the person who has died. It’s unlikely that the person who has died would want you to get yourself into debt to pay for the funeral or fees stressed about the finances. It’s not wrong or disrespectful to give thought to funeral costs.
  • Get at least two quotes, perhaps from an independent funeral director and one from a chain. Many people choose to use a funeral director and they can give helpful guidance. But remember they are a business and their fees can be the most expensive part of a funeral.
  • More expensive options don’t make a better funeral. As well as the type of funeral and which funeral director you may use, optional extras affect the cost. Words, music and actions can be more meaningful than expensive cars and coffins.

How to reduce the cost of a funeral

  1. Shop around: funeral costs can vary a lot. While you might find it difficult, it’s important to compare prices and services. Get a quote from more than one funeral director, caterer or florist so you can compare prices. You can then pick one that fits your budget.
  2. Ask family and friends: for example, instead of paying for a caterer, ask family and friends to bring food to the wake. You could also ask them to help you check for cheaper options.
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