In the heady aperitif years of my youth, I paid no attention to the adverts. But now, chomping steadily through the coffee-and-mints stage of what Hubcap calls, ‘the lunchtime of life,’ I notice them everywhere. I must admit, (alas), that I need one of those. It’s responsible and prudent; it’d take a load off my mind and spare my family a world of hassle. And one thing’s for sure: someday, (long in the future, I hope), it will come in useful – yes, (gulp), I’m talking about funeral plans. If you’re my age, the adverts may grab you too: those budget funeral insurance policies plugged by silver-haired celebs (who could probably afford a horse-drawn hearse followed by a fleet of limos if they so desired). A free gift just for registering interest! No medical required! Mere pence a day guarantees a cash lump sum if you die after two years – and you get another free gift when you sign up!
For the over-fifty-fives they sound great – on the face of it. What’s not so great is being hooked into paying instalments on a non-transferable policy for the rest of your life – and if for any reason you stop, all benefits are forfeited and you lose every penny you put in. If you die within two years, all your family gets is what you’ve paid in – which may only amount to a few hundred pounds, nowhere near the price of even the simplest cremation. If you’re blessed with long life, at some point the balance of advantage will tip and you’ll be paying in more than the policy’s worth – but if you stop, you lose everything. And even if you die at an ‘optimal’ time so that your family receives more back than you shelled out, the sum still might not cover the full cost of your funeral.
It all sounds too risky to me, especially now I’ve found something different and better: the SafeHands funeral plans endorsed by the National Federation of Funeral Directors. Unlike the above, which seem designed primarily to make money for insurance companies, these offer decent, affordable, and above all reliable services to meet customers’ needs. Essentially, they’re about buying tomorrow’s funeral at today’s prices, either by one-off payment, up to two years of interest-free instalments, or instalments with interest for up to ten years. For folk who’d rather spend money on living than dying, a straightforward Direct Cremation without funeral service comes in at a modest £1695; alternatively, you can pick from four packages of increasing sophistication and cost, (although even the most expensive, at £3595, falls far short of the £6000 – £7000 which some funeral directors charge).
The main advantages of SafeHands plans are that you can choose your own funeral in advance, thus sparing your nearest and dearest; you can change/add to them if you wish, and even leave them un-named so that they can apply to any member of the family; you’re not bound to endless instalments; and they guarantee that when the time comes you’ll get exactly what you paid for, with no nasty surprises or shortfalls. (If you die before you finish paying, your family or estate has six months to come up with the outstanding balance). It seems like such a good deal that Hubcap’s currently considering a ‘Pearl’ for £2945, while I’m still undecided – I may yet leave my body to science, assuming science would want me – although I’m sufficiently impressed to have trained as a Federation funeral celebrant and agent to sell SafeHands plans. Check out my new website if you’d like to know more!