Funeral plans

Resolver has teamed up with Dignity Funerals to provide this comprehensive guide to your funeral plans rights. If you're concerned about your funeral plan or think you need to make a complaint, you can check out our plain-English guide. It's full of the information you need to get things sorted.


Your rights

We've put together this guide to your rights, but there's a few things you need to know first.

Where do my rights come from?

The funeral plan market is served by the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA). The FPA is an opt-in organisation that regulates the funeral planning providers who sign up to its service with a stringent code of conduct.

Generally speaking, you should always check to see that your funeral plan provider is an FPA approved business.

You should expect FPA-registered organisations to stick to their code of conduct – and if they don’t, you can take the matter to the FPA.

Unfortunately, companies who haven’t signed up to the FPA are unregulated. This is an issue that has been recognised by the industry – and as of 2019 HMT have proposed that funeral plans should be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) or other statutory regulator, subsequent to a consultation.

Resolver’s rights guides are largely drawn from the FPA’s code of conduct. We believe the code sets a minimum level of expectation that all funeral plan providers and funeral directors should aim to live up to. Be aware that you will be unable to escalate your case to the FPA if your funeral plan provider isn’t registered with them. Be warned that organisations who aren’t FPA registered might not live up to expectations and aren’t bound to any particular code of conduct!

We highly recommend that you check that your plan provider or director is FPA registered before buying a plan.

How long should I wait for a response?

You should generally expect a response within 7 working days of a funeral plan provider receiving your complaint. If you don’t receive a response within this timeframe, send a follow-up message via Resolver!

How can I take things further?

Not all funeral plan providers are regulated! Double-check that your funeral plan provider is signed up to the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA).

If your funeral plan provider is FPA registered, you can escalate your case to the FPA who will assist in trying to resolve your complaint and also have an independent conciliation and arbitration service if your complaint cannot be resolved.


 

I'm having issues with customer services

If you're running into customer service issues with your funeral plan provider or you need to get in touch about a funeral director or the funeral service itself, there are a few things you should expect.

 

I'm unhappy with the funeral director and their services 

Generally speaking, you should expect any funeral director to act in a courteous and respectful manner.

Any marketing or advertising presented by a funeral plan provider or funeral director should be accurate and should not be misleading. This means that if any promotional materials have promised you a certain standard of service from the funeral director or plan provider, you should expect to get what you’ve paid for.

If you’re unhappy with the quality of the funeral service provided by an FPA registered organisation, you should be aware that the FPA doesn’t regulate or handle complaints about the funeral itself.

However, if you’re otherwise unhappy with the funeral director nominated by your funeral plan provider, you should contact your provider via Resolver to let them know. They will often consider suggesting an alternative funeral director from the list of directors that they work with – and, if you have a complaint about the services provided by a nominated funeral director, may be able to resolve the matter for you.

If you don’t accept the alternative, your funeral plan provider may (in some cases) cancel your plan and charge you a cancellation fee.

If you try to appoint an independent funeral director yourself who isn’t part of the plan, your funeral provider may cancel the plan and charge you a cancellation fee. The majority of funeral plans will refund your original investment (minus the cancellation fee), so you won’t see any return on your investment – or any adjustments for inflation.

 

Nominated funeral director too far away

Depending on the plan you’ve taken out, most funeral plan providers will change the nominated funeral director if you need them to.  Be aware, some providers do reserve the right to charge a fee for doing so.

Generally speaking, though, if you try to appoint an independent funeral director yourself who isn’t part of the plan, your funeral provider may cancel the plan and charge you a cancellation fee.

Generally, If the planholder has passed away in the UK (a reasonable distance from the nominated Funeral Director), the cost of transporting the deceased to the nominated Funeral Director will be covered by the plan. However, any additional mileage above the mileage allowance stated in the plan will be charged.

Plans may vary by provider, though ­– you should always carefully check the terms and conditions before taking a plan out.

 

If the planholder passes away abroad

If the planholder passes away abroad, it’s the responsibility of their Next of Kin to arrange for them to be transported to the nominated funeral director. This can be very expensive – it’s always best to check that your travel insurance covers repatriation!

If you try to appoint an independent funeral director yourself who isn’t part of the plan, your funeral provider may cancel the plan and charge you a cancellation fee.

 

Requested funeral dates not available

Depending on the plan you’ve chosen, there may be some restrictions on the dates and times that are available for funerals.

Funeral plan providers should always display this information clearly in any promotional material and in their terms & conditions. If you feel that you’ve been misled or poorly informed about the dates and times that were available, you should get in touch with your plan provider via Resolver.

  • If the dates you’re looking to book for aren’t available, your funeral plan provider should work to find a resolution. This may involve recommending an alternative funeral director.
  • If you decide to cancel a funeral plan because the requested dates aren’t available, you may be charged a cancellation fee.

 

Desired funeral director not covered by plan

The majority of plans will have a list of funeral directors to choose from. You will not normally be allowed to nominate a funeral director from outside of this list.

Be aware that if you try and appoint a funeral director yourself who isn’t covered by the plan, your funeral plan provider may cancel your plan and charge you a cancellation fee.

If you're unhappy with the fact that a specific funeral director is not covered by a plan, you can always consider contacting your plan provider via Resolver. While they may not be able to do anything to resolve the matter immediately, they will consider your feedback and may be able to suggest a compromise.

If you're unhappy with the funeral director nominated in a plan and would like to change to another on the list, you should contact your plan provider. You will generally be allowed to change funeral director when needed (ideally before the deceased has been taken into care of the original nominated funeral director – you may be liable for any initial fees charged by the funeral director after this point).

You should be properly informed about any restrictions on the funeral directors available to you before you buy a plan. If you feel that you weren’t – or that your plan provider is acting unfairly – you should get In touch with them via Resolver.

 

Special requirements recorded incorrectly

Funeral plan providers should always act in a courteous manner ­– and you should always expect them to try and honour special requirements (if they’re reasonable).

If you make a special request that falls outside of the plan, it is likely to cost you extra. Your funeral plan provider should give you a confirmation of any special requests.

What falls inside a plan may vary from provider to provider – always check your terms and conditions before taking a plan out!

Generally speaking, though, the cost of a burial plot, flowers and catering are often not included.

You should contact the funeral plan provider as soon as possible if it looks like a mistake has been made. They should be able to resolve the matter for you.

  • If a special requirement was represented in any estimates you were given, you should expect it to be delivered as requested.
  • It’s worth noting, though, that the cost of a special requirement is generally not guaranteed, the additional money paid will represent a contribution towards the requirement  when the time comes, but won’t necessarily cover the full cost.
  • If any special requirements that have been approved aren’t available at the time of the funeral, most plan providers will provide a reasonable alternative at no further charge. There are, however, no guarantees here – things may vary from provider to provider.
  • If you don’t agree with the alternative service, the plan provider may cancel the plan and charge you a cancellation fee (although this is extremely rare). Generally, you’ll be given the option to cancel the plan or carry on without the special requirements you’ve asked for.

 


 

Issues with plan

Sometimes you may find that you're having issues with what's covered by your plan, the terms and conditions of your funeral plan or lapsed instalments. Here are some guidelines for you to follow.

 

Costs aren’t covered by this plan

Certain plans may not cover every cost associated with a funeral service. If you ask for something that isn’t included in the plan, you may be charged for it. If you’ve organised independently for something that isn’t covered by the plan, you may be liable for the costs.

What’s covered by a plan may vary from provider to provider – always check your terms and conditions before taking a plan out!

Most plans cover the funeral directors’ costs, some will cover the cremation costs, but the majority will only contribute to burial costs rather than cover them in full. Generally speaking, the cost of a burial plot, flowers and catering are often not included.

Funeral plan providers should make clear exactly what you’re getting in a plan. If you feel that you were poorly informed or misled, you should get in touch with your plan provider via Resolver.

 

Plan lapsed

Generally speaking, there are a number of reasons your plan may have lapsed.

Most commonly, if you’re paying by instalments or insurance and miss a payment by more than 60 days (the time period may vary from provider to provider), any price guarantee included in your plan may lapse.  The consequence of not maintaining payments will vary depending on whether you’ve got an instalment or insurance plan.

Lapsed Instalment Plans

This means that if the plan holder dies and the funeral goes ahead, the cost of the funeral will most likely be charged at current prices (not the price of the funeral when the plan was purchased) and any instalments paid and not refunded will go towards the cost.

Alternatively, the plan can be cancelled if the nominated funeral director isn’t used. Your initial investment will be refunded (minus the cancellation fee). You won’t see a return on your investment – or any adjustments for inflation.

  • If your plan has lapsed because of a missed instalment, it can generally be reinstated by bringing payments up to date (taking inflation into account).
  • If you think your plan has lapsed incorrectly, you should contact your funeral plan provider as soon as possible.

Lapsed Insurance Plans

This means that if the plan holder dies and the funeral goes ahead, the cost of the funeral will most likely be charged at current prices (not the price of the funeral when the plan was purchased).

  • If you miss a payment, you will generally have a period of time (one or two months from the date of the missed payment) to pay it. If you pay the full amount within this period, your plan won’t be affected. If a plan holder died within this period, any claim would generally be reduced by the amount of any outstanding payments and the plan provider will normally honour the price.
  • If you miss payments and they are not paid within the period, you can’t start making payments again or otherwise make up missed payments. Your plan will be cancelled. You won’t get any payments back and you’ll have no contribution towards your funeral at all.
  • If you think your plan has lapsed incorrectly, you should contact your funeral plan provider as soon as possible.
  • They should work with you to find a resolution.

 

Funeral plan lost/not found

Finding a lost funeral plan can be tricky, but there are some ways of tracking one down.

First of all, try and find a policy document or a relevant direct debit on an associated bank account. If you’ve found either of these, you should contact the company listed on them. If you have either a policy document or evidence of a relevant direct debit, you can demonstrate that a plan was taken out. The company should work with you to find a solution. If they are unable to, you can take the matter to the FPA (if the plan provider is registered).

The FPA’s website can be used to check if any FPA registered provider has a plan. This is a free service and only needs you to give a few key details.

In the event that the plan was taken out with an organisation that has since gone out of business, the Funeral Plan Authority may be able to help..

Mis-sold plan

You should always be properly informed about a plan before you buy. The details of a plan have to be clearly set out. You should be told any costs and charges that you may need to pay, as well as what is covered by the plan and what isn’t.

Funeral plan providers must not make misleading comments about a funeral plan, should never use pressure-selling tactics and should never make unsolicited calls to drum up business.

 


 

Unhappy with terms and conditions

There are some things you should always expect to be made clear in your terms and conditions. From cancellation fees to processing times, here's the facts.

 

Cancellation

Generally speaking, most funeral plan providers will have a set cancellation period in which you can cancel your plan with no charge.

  • If you decide to cancel your plan outside of this time, you may be charged a cancellation fee.
  • If you choose to cancel a plan, you should be refunded any payments you’ve made to date (excluding any cancellation fees).

You should expect any refund to be in your account within 14 days, although this may vary by provider.

Your funeral plan provider may cancel your plan under certain conditions. If, for example, something can’t be delivered as planned and you refuse any alternatives offered, your plan provider may choose to cancel your plan and charge you a cancellation fee.

The reasons your provider may cancel should be set out in their terms & conditions.

You should be aware that any refund you’re given will not include interest, as funeral plans are not investment products.

If you want to either cancel your plan or are unhappy with your account being cancelled, you should contact your funeral plan provider via Resolver.

 

Unhappy with cancellation fee

If you or your funeral plan provider cancels your plan outside of the cooling off period outlined in their terms & conditions, you may be charged a cancellation fee.

Any cancellation fees should be stated clearly in your agreement.

If you think that a cancellation fee has been applied incorrectly, you should get in touch with your plan provider via Resolver.

Unhappy with processing time for cancellation

It may take some time for your cancellation request to be processed – especially if the Plan isn’t used and a cancellation request is made after the death of the person it covers (in which case the funeral plan provider may need some additional information).

Generally speaking, though, you should expect a cancellation request to be processed promptly, with any refunds fully issued within 14 days of the request being processed, although this may vary by provider.

If you think there has been an extended delay in cancellation, you should get in touch with your plan provider via Resolver.

 




Payment issues

Payment problems can be incredibly frustrating, but the first thing to remember is not to panic! Talking to your plan provider can go a long way to sorting out most problems. Check out our guidance below!

Chased for instalment payments

Generally speaking, if you can’t afford instalment payments you should contact your plan provider as soon as possible. They should work with you to find a workable solution. If you can’t find a solution, you can always consider cancelling the plan. You will normally be refunded any money you’ve been paid less a cancellation fee.

  • If you’re being chased for instalment payments incorrectly, you should contact your funeral plan provider via Resolver to let them know that there has been a mistake. They should suspend any attempts at collection while they investigate the matter.

Be aware that if you miss a due payment by more than 60 days, your plan may lapse!

This means that if the plan holder dies and a funeral goes ahead, it may be charged at market rate and if it is an instalment plan those instalments will go towards the costs but if it is an insurance plan you won’t get any payments back and you’ll have no contribution towards your funeral at all.

  • If your plan has lapsed because of a missed instalment, it can be reinstated by bringing payments up to date (taking inflation into account).

Can't afford payments

Generally speaking, if you can’t afford instalment payments you should contact your plan provider as soon as possible. They should work with you to find a workable solution. If you can’t find a solution, you can always consider cancelling the plan. You will normally be refunded any money you’ve been paid less a cancellation fee.

Be aware that if you miss a due payment by more than 60 days, your plan may lapse!

This means that if the plan holder dies and a funeral goes ahead, it may be charged at market rate and if it is an instalment plan those instalments will go towards the costs but if it is an insurance plan you won’t get any payments back and you’ll have no contribution towards your funeral at all.

If your plan has lapsed, and is an instalment plan, because of a missed instalment, it can be reinstated by bringing payments up to date (taking inflation into account). If it is an insurance plan and you miss payments that you fail to make up within an agreed period (normally 30-60 days), you can’t start making payments again, or make up missed payments. Your plan will be cancelled. You won’t get any payments back and you’ll have no contribution towards your funeral at all.

Delay in refund

You should generally expect any refunds to be issued within 14 days. If you encounter a delay, you should contact your funeral plan provider to find out what has caused the delay. You may also wish to contact your bank.

Delays may occur when the funeral plan provider needs additional information to issue a refund.

In cases where the refund is being issued after a cancellation request made after the death of the nominee (the person covered by the plan), any refund will typically be made to the person who originally paid for the plan or to the nominee’s estate.

If you’re unhappy with a delay, you should contact your funeral plan provider via Resolver.

 


 

Additional costs

If you're concerned that you're not entirely sure what's covered by your funeral plan and what isn't, look no further. We've put together these top tips for issues around burial costs, additional charges and pricing.

Charged for items covered by the funeral plan

You should never find yourself being overcharged for funeral costs.

Some funeral directors have confusing pricing schemes – and this is unacceptable.

The CMA has said that best practice would have funeral directors make their price lists available online.

Regardless, you should be able to make appropriate comparisons when it comes to pricing ­– and should know exactly what they’re paying for.

If you think that you’ve been charged for items that are covered by your funeral plan, you should get in touch with your plan provider via Resolver.

Excessive charges for paying by instalment

You should always be properly informed about a plan before you buy. The details of a plan should be clearly set out in plain English. You should be told any costs and charges that you may need to pay – and this includes the cost of any charges for paying by instalment.

If you’ve been surprised by the cost of a funeral plan, you should get in touch with your plan provider via Resolver.

Unaware of costs

You should always be properly informed about a plan before you buy. The details of a plan should be clearly set out in plain English.. All of the costs that make up the plan should be made clear at the outset.

If you’ve bought a funeral plan and the costs were not made clear at the outset, you should get in touch with your plan provider via Resolver.

 


 

Marketing

Funerals can be a difficult time for anyone. You shouldn't have to deal with additional stress caused by marketing tactics. Here's how to resolve some of the most common funeral plan marketing issues.

 

Communications sent to deceased person

Funeral plan providers and funeral directors should always act in a courteous and respectful manner. Funerals are a very traumatic time for many people. Funeral plan providers and directors should do everything they can to make things easier for you. If an organisation is mistakenly sending communications to the deceased person, you can get in touch with your plan provider via Resolver. The funeral plan provider or director should work to resolve the matter as soon as possible.

Excessive volume of communications

Funeral plan providers and funeral directors should always act in a courteous and respectful manner. Funerals are a very traumatic time for many people. Funeral plan providers and directors should do everything they can to make things easier for you. If an organisation is sending an excessive volume of communications, you can get in touch with your plan provider via Resolver. The funeral plan provider or director should work to resolve the matter as soon as possible.

Distasteful advertising/marketing tactics

Funeral plan providers and funeral directors should always act in a courteous and respectful manner – and distasteful advertising/marketing tactics are forbidden. If you think that a funeral plan provider or funeral director has used unacceptable marketing, you should get in touch with your plan provider via Resolver. If you’ve spoken to your plan provider but haven’t found a resolution, you can also consider contacting the FPA or the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)!

 

Investments

The way your funeral plan is invested will vary according to provider. As the provider is generally either guaranteeing a service or providing a fixed return on any contribution, the investment risk is effectively theirs.  You should expect your money to be invested in a way that balances out risks to appropriately manage the funds.

Some funeral plans don’t provide guarantees, rather providing a contribution, these contributions generally increase by an index such as RPI.  If your plan has a contribution element, there may be more to pay when the time comes if costs have gone up faster than the index.

Working with

With Resolver you can send your case to key ombudsmen and regulators including:

Furniture ombudsman Ombudsman services Financial ombudsman service C e d r Gambling commission Consumer dispute resolution Transport focus logo

Resolver is a member of

Advice u k Justice C t s i Ombudsman association Trading standard approved