Burial Insurance Guide 2021 – Know Your Best Options

What is Burial Insurance?

Burial insurance is a small-size, guaranteed life insurance policy intended for seniors. It offers lower death benefit amounts than other kinds of life insurance, typically providing up to $25,000 in coverage. The burial insurance proceeds can be used to pay for funeral costs, accounting, and other final arrangements. Qualification is not based on a medical exam.

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Burial Insurance Fast Facts

  • Burial insurance is a type of life insurance 
  • The coverage or “death benefit” is small, usually between $2,000 and $35,000 
  • Seniors can qualify for burial insurance without a medical exam 
  • Premiums are different for everyone, but cost between $10 and $190 per month for many
  • A death benefit payment is guaranteed in most situations

Pros and Cons of Burial Insurance

Benefits of burial insurance Drawbacks of burial insurance
  • No medical exam required
  • Can be expensive in the logn term
  • Premiums tend to be moderate
  • Coverage amounts are limited
  • Can pay for burial costs and more
  • Not intended to provide ongoing income for family members
  • Relieves family from expensive funeral arrangements
Note on insurance terminology:
Burial insurance is also known as “final expense insurance” or “funeral insurance.” If you see these terms elsewhere, know that they all refer to the same insurance product. In this article, we use the term “burial insurance.”

In This Article

How Burial Insurance Works

No Medical Exam Life Insurance

Like other life insurance policies, burial insurance pays out a one-time sum after the insured person passes away. This payment is generally guaranteed, as long as the insured stays up-to-date on their premiums throughout life.

The burial insurance payout is usually between $2,000 and $25,000. That amount is pre-determined at the time the policy is purchased.

With some policies, the burial insurance death benefit can be “assigned” to a funeral home.

This means the policy would directly cover funeral and burial costs. Any funds remaining after the funeral has been paid for would be returned to the policy “beneficiary” (the person named to receive the death benefit). 
But a burial insurance policy doesn’t have to be assigned to a funeral home. In fact, it’s not a rule that the benefit has to be used for a funeral or burial at all.

What Does Burial Insurance Cover?

The burial insurance beneficiary can use the death benefit however they need. Many people use life insurance funds to cover:

  • Funeral and burial costs — You’re not required to use burial insurance proceeds for funeral expenses. But many people choose to do so, since a funeral with burial is often costly
  • Accounting bills — If family members need to sell the deceased’s house, close accounts, or hire someone to manage finances, burial insurance could cover the cost of managing these affairs 
  • Ongoing payments — A few recurring debts, like mortgage payments or insurance, might have to be covered while other arrangements are being made 
  • Death certificates — Copies of the death certificate are required to access life insurance, close accounts and utilities, prepare the funeral, and more. These copies cost $10-$20 on average

Remember, burial insurance policies are small compared to other life insurance policies.

Unlike term or whole life insurance, which generally include more than $100,000 in coverage, burial insurance is not meant to provide lasting income after someone passes away.

But it can provide enough coverage to pay for an average funeral, plus a little extra. For people without dependents or a lot of other debt, a small-size burial insurance policy might be just right.

Explore burial insurance plans and rates

How much does burial insurance cost?

Burial insurance costs vary by person and by company. That’s because each insurer determines cost using its own equation. They all weigh age, gender, and other important pricing factors a little differently.

For example: A 75-year-old man purchasing burial insurance might pay $110 per month at one company, or $135 per month at another.

Below are a few sample rates. These should give you a ballpark idea of how much burial insurance costs for a $10,000 policy¹. But remember, your insurance rate is personal. It will likely differ from what’s shown here.

  • Age 55 — $41/month
  • Age 65 — $62/month 
  • Age 75 — $108/month

In general, older customers might be charged up to $200 per month for burial insurance. 

This might seem like a steep price to pay, but remember — much of the cost paid-in is eventually returned to the family in the form of a “death benefit” payment. 

So really, premiums paid during life are helping to defray costs for a funeral and burial after death.

Low-cost burial insurance vs. out-of-pocket funeral costs

Take a look at one scenario of how burial insurance costs can play out in the long term:

Funeral with Burial, Paid Out of Pocket Burial insurance
Average cost  $10,600¹ $13,000²
Money returned to family  $0 $10,000
Net expense $10,600 $3,000 
¹Average burial cost based on 2019 funeral cost survey from the National Funeral Directors Association
²Sample rate assumes $10,000 final expense policy purchased at age 75 and paid for 10 years. Your own premium will be different

In this example, the insured person pays $13,000 over the course of 10 years for burial insurance.

But after they pass away, their beneficiary receives a $10,000 payout that can be used to cover burial costs and other end-of-life expenses.

This protects the insured’s family from having to pay thousands out of pocket all at once.

Get your personalized burial insurance rates

How to find cheap burial insurance

If you’re on a tight budget, paying $100-$200 per month for burial insurance can feel like a lot. Thus, many people wonder where they can find the cheapest burial insurance policy. The answer is: that depends.

As we mentioned above, burial insurance costs depend on both your application and the company you choose to work with.

Rate quotes will vary, so you’ll need to compare personalized estimates from a few insurers to find the lowest-cost policy for you.

“This is one of those marketplaces where there’s a huge variance [in cost]. So make sure you compare options. There’s no hard-and-fast rule that a company will be competitive for all.” –Tony Steuer, CLU, LA, CPFFE, Author and financial preparedness advocate

Luckily, burial insurance quotes are easier to get than other life insurance quotes. Most companies will give you a  burial insurance quote 100% online. And quotes are always free.

Compare Burial Insurance prices

Why pay for a burial with life insurance

On average, a funeral with burial costs over $10,000. That’s according to 2019 data from the National Funeral Directors Association.

And burial costs can be even higher depending on the services and items selected.

For instance, a casket could cost anywhere from $200 to $11,000 depending on design and material. And average funeral home service fees range from $725 to $5,000.

“Planning and setting aside funds for a funeral during life helps reduce stress and financial strain on families after death.”

That’s why it’s important to plan for a funeral ahead of time. Families without a plan in place are often unable to compare costs from different funeral homes, and can end up overpaying.

Choosing a funeral home and services during life helps reduce stress on the family when a loved one passes.

And with burial insurance or another pre-funded account, there won’t be any question about how to pay for the funeral, either.

Find a low-cost burial insurance policy today

Average cost of a funeral with burial

Like we mentioned above, a funeral with burial generally costs between $10,000 and $11,000. This high price tag is the main reason many people seek a burial insurance policy.

Here’s how those funeral costs break down by item:

Item or Service Average Cost
Funeral home service fees $2,195
Removal/transfer of body to funeral home  $350
Embalming $750
Other preparations for the body  $255
Use of facility and staff for viewing $425
Use of facility and staff for ceremony  $500
Service car or van $150 
Basic memorial printed package  $175
Hearse  $340
Metal casket $2,500
Vault  $1,495
Burial plot $1,500 
Total average cost of a funeral and burial  $10,635
Average costs based on 2019 survey by NFDA

Note, not all costs included here will apply to every funeral. And there may be other funeral expenses not shown on this list. These numbers are a benchmark only to help show you what’s likely to be included in funeral planning.

Burial costs by region

Funeral home fees and services aren’t the only things that affect funeral costs. The price of a funeral with burial also varies by state and region.

Below are the average costs for a funeral with burial by region of the U.S., according to the NFDA. Costs do not include a burial plot or grave marker.

Burial costs by state
Image: NFDA, 2019

For people without large estates, these costs may be difficult for the family to cover out of pocket. Burial insurance can help.

To learn how affordable burial insurance can be, compare personalized rates from a few different companies.

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Burial insurance for seniors

We mentioned above that burial insurance is primarily intended for seniors. There are three main reasons for that.

  1. Burial insurance is generally issued from age 50-85. It can be hard to find other life insurance policies with such lenient age requirements
  2. Burial insurance doesn’t require a medical exam. So seniors can get coverage even if their health is declining 
  3. Burial insurance policies are smaller than other life insurance policies, so you only pay for what you need

For seniors who need to pay funeral expenses, and little else, burial insurance might offer just the right amount of coverage.

“[Burial insurance] is a completely useful product, especially for someone who wants something simple and doesn’t have a ton of money to spend.” –Tony Steuer, CLU, LA, CPFFE, Author and financial preparedness advocate

It might also be a good option for people in declining health, who would have trouble qualifying for a fully-underwritten life insurance policy (meaning, one that requires a medical exam).

But as with all insurance policies, you should consider your options carefully before buying burial insurance.

There are potential drawbacks that could outweigh the pros for some.

Higher cost per dollar of coverage

If you compare burial insurance with another life insurance policy — say, term or whole life — burial insurance typically costs more dollar-for-dollar. Meaning, the same person would pay more for a $25,000 burial insurance policy than they would for a $25,000 term life insurance policy.

That’s because burial insurance doesn’t require a medical exam.

“These policies are typically ‘guaranteed issue plans’ with few or no health questions,” says Chris Acker, CLU and CFP. “They are priced assuming all applicants are in poor health.”

But remember, term and whole life insurance generally don’t offer coverage below $50,000 or $100,000. So if you need a small policy — and/or wouldn’t pass a medical exam — burial insurance might be your best bet.

Two-year “contestability” clause

People often look to burial insurance as a way to get life insurance with no waiting period. But that’s not exactly the case.

It’s true that burial insurance coverage takes effect sooner than other kinds of life insurance. With no medical exam to stand in the way, burial insurance can be issued online and activated in just a couple days.

But these policies still include a two year “contestability clause” — meaning coverage is limited for the first two years a burial insurance policy is in effect.

Under this clause, if the insured person passes away within the first two years, a burial insurance company has the right to investigate the death.

If the death was a suicide, the company usually won’t pay a death benefit. And if the insurance company has reason to believe there was false information on the insured’s application, it may not pay either.

In these cases, burial insurance company might simply refund premiums the insured person paid. Or, it might issue a death benefit with a reduced value.

So burial insurance isn’t exactly a no-waiting-period’ policy. “Just because you can get the policy immediately, doesn’t mean it will necessarily pay out,” says Steuer.

Be sure to talk with your life insurance agent and fully understand the rules of the policy before signing on.

The best burial insurance companies

The right burial insurance company for you depends on how much coverage you need, and which insurer offers you the most competitive price. There’s no single “best” company for everyone.

However, it helps if you know where to start looking.

Company Burial Insurance Policy Burial Insurance Coverage Amounts¹ Accepted Ages for Burial Insurance  2019 Customer Satisfaction Score² 
State Farm  Final Expense Insurance $10,000 50–80 808/1,000
Mutual of Omaha Whole Life Guaranteed $2,000–$25,000  45-85 795/1,000
AARP (provided by New York Life)  AARP Easy Acceptance Life Insurance $2,500–$25,000 50–80 770/1,000
John Hancock Final Expense Insurance  $2,000–$20,000 55–80 739/1,000
Transamerica Final Expense Insurance $2,000–$50,000 0–85 732/1,000
AIG Guaranteed Issue Whole Life Insurance  $5,000–$25,000 50–85 722/1,000
Globe Life Funeral and Burial Insurance $5,000–$50,000 Not listed Not listed

¹ Available coverage amounts and age restrictions may vary by state² Customer satisfaction survey data from J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Life Insurance Study

Compare burial insurance companies

The companies below all offer burial insurance — and they’re some of the most popular life insurance companies by market share, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners

We ranked these based on their score from J.D. Power’s 2019 life insurance study. The survey polled more than 6,000 customers about their satisfaction with their life insurance companies. Insurers are rated for their customer service, price, policy options, and more.

State Farm burial insurance

Called “Final Expense Insurance,” State Farm’s burial insurance includes $10,000 of coverage and is available for customers age 50 to 80. State Farm is the second-highest-rated life insurance company in J.D. Power’s satisfaction study.

Mutual of Omaha burial insurance

Burial insurance from Mutual of Omaha is called “Whole Life Guaranteed.” It comes in sizes from $2,000 to $25,000, and customers can apply from age 45 to 85.

AARP burial insurance (provided by New York Life)

Seniors often wonder about life insurance through AARP. The Association does offer burial insurance, but it’s sold through New York Life Insurance Company. Policies are available for 50 to 80-year-olds (and for eligible spouses starting at age 45). And death benefit sizes range from $2,500 to $25,000.

John Hancock burial insurance

John Hancock’s burial insurance plan is called “Final Expense Insurance.” It comes with face values from $2,000 to $20,000, and can be bought at age 55 through 80.

Transamerica burial insurance

Transamerica also sells burial insurance under the name “Final Expense Insurance.” Policies are available from $2,000 to $50,000. And, uniquely, Transamerica lets customers purchase burial insurance at any age up to 85.

AIG burial insurance

AIG burial insurance is listed as “Guaranteed Issue Whole Life Insurance.” These policies are offered with death benefits from $5,000 to $25,000. And seniors can apply at ages 50-85.

Globe Life burial insurance

Globe life is one of the few companies to actually call its policy “Burial Insurance” or “Funeral Insurance.” Globe sells these policies with a face value from $5,000 to $50,000. But note that the sizes available and age ranges to apply can vary by state.

Burial insurance FAQ

How much does a burial cost?

On average, a funeral with burial costs about $10,600. Major burial costs include a casket ($2,500), burial plot ($1,500), and vault ($1,500). Costs for the funeral include funeral home service fees, preparation of the body, and fees for using facilities and staff during the ceremony

and viewing. Remember, average costs vary a lot by funeral home and location. Preparing for a funeral ahead of time lets you compare options and save on burial costs.

How much does burial insurance cost?

Burial insurance costs a different amount for every customer. Many people pay between $30 and $200 per month, but your costs could be outside that range. That’s because the burial insurance rate (or “premium”) depends on many factors. Age and gender are the two most important. Men generally pay a little more than women, and burial insurance costs go up as you get older. You can find the lowest price by comparing burial insurance rates from a few different companies.

What’s the best burial insurance company?

Many of the biggest life insurance companies offer burial insurance. Some of the top-rated burial insurance companies include State Farm, Mutual of Omaha, and New York Life (which sells burial insurance in partnership with AARP). You’ll have to compare personalized rates to find out which company is best for you. Note: Many insurers list burial insurance under a different name. So you may have to look for “final expense,” “guaranteed whole life,” or “guaranteed issue whole life” to find a burial insurance policy.

Where can I get cheap burial insurance?

The cheapest burial insurance company for you really depends on your application. That’s because every insurer prices burial insurance policies differently depending on the applicant’s age, gender, and other factors. So while some companies — like Globe Life — have a reputation for being low-cost, you’ll have to compare a few insurers to find out which one is actually cheapest for you.

The good news? Rate quotes are free, and you can check burial insurance prices in just a few minutes online. Start here.

Can you get burial insurance with no waiting period?

Since burial insurance does not require a medical exam, there’s a very short waiting period between applying and coverage taking effect. “Most of the [burial insurance] players offer guaranteed issue online processes and will issue a policy in days,” says Chris Acker, CLU and CFP. However, like all life insurance, burial insurance comes with a two year “contestability period.” So if the insured passes away within two years of purchasing burial insurance, the company has the right to examine the death and may alter the death benefit payout.

Should I buy burial insurance for my parent(s)?

A funeral, burial, and other end-of-life costs can easily surpass $10,000. So if your parent lacks savings (or another life insurance plan) you might consider purchasing a small burial insurance policy to help cover those costs. “For not so wealthy parents, their children may consider paying for a life insurance policy on a healthy parent to defray the cost of dying,” says Mike Charnet, Founder and CEO of American Prosperity Group.

Charnet continues, “When properly designed, this would also provide many other benefits. A financial advisor with a specialization in life insurance should be consulted for greater information in this area.”

You can explore burial insurance plans and connect with top burial insurance companies here.

Is burial insurance worth it?

Burial insurance serves a very specific purpose.

  • It provides a small amount of funds to cover end-of-life expenses
  • It allows people to buy life insurance that might not qualify otherwise; like seniors and those with serious health issues 
  • Policy sizes are available starting at just $2,000, which can mean lower monthly premiums

If you have a need for any of the above, burial insurance might be worth it for you.

Compare burial insurance quotes

Find out whether burial insurance fits your needs and budget by comparing policies and rates from a few different companies. 

You can check prices right here with no commitment to buy or speak to an agent.

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