What is funeral insurance?
Funeral insurance provides your family or a nominated person with the financial ability to cover your funeral expenses when you pass away. Some of the key benefits of funeral insurance include:
- A benefit payment of your choosing. This is a lump sum payment up to $30,000.
- Fast and straightforward application. No medical or blood tests are required.
- Premium caps. Some policies will cease premium payments once they have reached the amount insured. This means that you will never pay more in premiums than the payout family receives.
Please note that funeral insurance is not the right choice for everyone. Always consider your own financial and personal situation when selecting products to fund your funeral.
Am I eligible for funeral insurance?
To be eligible for funeral insurance in Australia, most insurers require that you be:
- Between 45 and 75 years of age (if you’re over 75 then you'll need to apply for special cover with a medical test).
- An Australian citizen or permanent resident
- Applying for cover from within Australia
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Funeral insurance policies will pay out benefits depending on:
- If you pass away or if you develop a terminal illness
- The timing of your death or illness
- The cause of your death or illness
In the first 12 months of holding your policy*
|Event||Am I paid out?||Details|
|If you pass away due to a sickness||Your premiums are refunded|
|Self inflicted death||Your premiums are refunded|
|Accidental death||You are paid out your sum insured|
|Terminal illness||Your policy will continue and you will be eligible for payment after 12 months or your premiums refunded|
After 12 months of holding your policy*
|Event||Am I paid out?||Details|
|If you pass away due to any cause||You are paid out your sum insured|
|Terminal illness||You are paid out your sum insured|
*A 12 month waiting period is the standard waiting period in most policies however this can vary depending on the policy. Always check with your insurer.
Funeral insurance is important to ensure your loved ones are not left with a financial burden when you pass away. Most funeral insurance plans in Australia offer a range of benefits as standard, including:
Fast, simple application process
What exactly does this mean?
|This is one of the main reasons people take out funeral insurance. There is high acceptance rate and usually no intrusive medical questions.|
|Most providers will accept you automatically if you are aged between 45 - 75 (some insurers will offer cover with certain conditions following medical test).|
|This can be done online or over the phone, with no intrusive medical questions.|
Flexibility in what you pay
What exactly does this mean?
|This means you can choose premiums that rise each year, or premiums that stay the same (but start at a higher rate). See how it all works.|
|Cover up to $15,000 for level premium plans and up to $30,000 for stepped premium plans.|
|Your premiums are capped when they reach the sum you originally insured e.g. $15,000.|
|Premiums cease when you reach a certain age (e.g. 90) after which cover continues for life.|
|This is the option to pay monthly or fortnightly at no extra cost.|
What exactly does this mean?
|One payment designed to help cover funeral costs and other immediate expenses when you pass away.|
|Most claims are generally paid out within 2 business days.|
|You are paid out the greater of the sum insured or total premiums paid over the life of the policy, whichever is greater.|
|This allows your beneficiaries to receive the amount you insured if you die by accident within the first 12 months of taking out cover.|
|This allows you to receive the full amount you insured early if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness after, typically after 12 months.|
|If you pass away in the first 12 months and your death is not due to accident or self-inflicted injury, your premium payments will be refunded.|
What exactly does this mean?
|Cover continues as long as you continue to pay your premiums.|
|If you're policy is cancelled due to inability to pay your premiums, some policies allow a grace period (up to three months) where you can reinstate the policy.|
|You are covered 24/7 anywhere in the world.|
|Some policies include a free legal will kit when you take out a policy.|
Depending on the insurer, additional benefits are also offered with funeral insurance such as:
How does this work?
|You can receive a 20% discount on premiums if you and your partner takes out a joint policy.|
|Some policies give you the option to receive 10% of your premiums back for every 3 years you remain covered.|
|Some policies allow for a 10% discount if you have a sum insured of at least $20,000 on a stepped premium plan.|
|Some policies give you the option to automatically increase the amount covered, to keep up with inflation. This option is typically a 5% increase per year and will also increase your premium paid.|
Funeral insurance is designed to provide your dependants with a lump sum payment in the event of your death. This payment can be used to cover the different types of funeral costs, including:
- Caskets and urns. The cost of urns can range from $80-$200.
- Cremations. The average cost of cremation is typically $1,100.
- Gravestones. Gravestones can range from $1,500-$2,000.
- Flowers. The cost of flowers can go all the way up to $300
- Newspaper announcements. Your family may wish to make a newspaper announcement in the community.
- Funeral home service costs. This cost includes the venue hire, director fees, dressing and embalming.
- Transportation. This includes the cost of limousines for close family members.
- Other wake service costs. Food and beverage services may be provided after the wake.
The cost of your funeral insurance will depend on a range of factors including:
- Sum insured. This is the amount you originally agree to insure. Most policies range from $15,000-$30,000.
- Age of the insured person. The older the person is at application, the higher the premiums will generally be.
- Whether or not the applicant smokes. Smokers will have a higher premium.
- Gender. Women tend to have a greater life expectancy than men, and hence cheaper premiums.
- Applicants State or Territory. Government fees to insurers may differ from state to state. This is passed onto your premium.
The average annual cost of premiums by age group
Figures are based on Australian Securities & Investments Commission's 2015 study of the funeral insurance sector.
To get a more accurate idea of how much funeral insurance will cost you, get a personalised quote
As with other forms of insurance, funeral insurance plans often include the option of stepped or level premiums.
- Stepped premiums. Your premium is based on your age, your sex and the sum insured and is then recalculated every birthday, becoming progressively more expensive the older you get.
- Level premiums. Your premium is also based on your age, your sex and the sum insured, but you are insured for an agreed amount and your premium remains the same for the life of the policy (apart from yearly CPI increases).
So which one is right for me?
The advantage of stepped premiums is that you pay less at the beginning of your cover, while the advantage of level premiums is that you always know roughly what your premium will be and can budget accordingly. The option you choose on whether or not you expect your income to increase over time.
To get a better understanding, you can read more about funeral insurance premiums here.
When you apply for funeral insurance you should always look for a value guarantee feature. This will ensure that you never pay more than what you insured at the start. Value guarantees come in the form of either:
A guaranteed payout means that you'll be paid out the greater amount between your premiums paid and the sum you originally insured.
Pauline's extra payout
Pauline was 65 when she took out a funeral insurance policy, insuring a sum of $15,000 for her funeral costs. When she passed away at 83 years of age, Pauline had already paid $16,233 worth in premiums. Luckily, her policy had a premium guarantee, allowing Pauline's family to receive a $16,233 payment.
Premium caps ensure that your premiums are stopped once they reach the sum you originally insured.
Jonah and continued cover
Worried about his health, Jonah took out funeral insurance at the age of 58. He agreed to insure a total of $10,000.
Now at the age of 65, Jonah expects to live well into his 80's and has currently paid $9,200 in premiums. Jonah continues to pay premiums, knowing they'll cease at $10,000. Jonah will still be able to continue cover once his premium payments have ceased.
Funeral insurance has come under scrutiny in recent years, due to the long term cost of some premiums being greater than the cost of a funeral itself. Steps have been taken to make funeral insurance a more transparent product including:
- Flat premiums. Premiums that never goes up during the life of the policy.
- A grace period of up to three months. If your policy is cancelled due to an inability to make premium payments, you're given grace period where your policy can be reinstated.
- 'Paid up' insurance. If your policy is cancelled due to an inability to make payments but you have held the policy for at least 10 years, the policy will become a 'paid up insurance' product. This means that you can receive a percentage of the sum insured e.g. 40% of $15,000, and premiums are no longer payable.
- Premium discounts. You can receive a premium discount after a certain period of coverage, specified by the policy e.g. 5 years
- Premium caps. This is where premiums are capped at the sum you originally insured. This ensures that consumers never pay more in premiums than the benefit amount.
To ensure you're not ripped off, make sure your policy includes value guarantees and avoid the following traps:
While funeral insurance has a lot of benefits and is easy to obtain compared with other forms of insurance, there are some traps to be wary of when applying for cover. These include:
- Buying a policy without comparing. Customers can find themselves buying bad policy after seeing a television ad or after being cold called for funeral insurance. Make sure you understand the policy and how it compares with its peers before buying. Remember, you're entitled to cooling off rights, which means you can cancel a policy for any reason within 10 business days.
- Paying more in premiums than a funeral would cost. Avoid this by looking for policies that offer capped premiums once the sum insured is reached or a guaranteed payout.
- Buying the cheapest policy. You could find yourself underinsured if a cheap policy doesn’t contain the basic benefits listed above.
- Not keeping up with premium payments. Most funeral insurance providers do not offer the policy suspension option common in other forms of insurance, which means that your policy could be cancelled if you’re more than 28 days in arrears. Some insurers do offer a premium pause option for up to three months, but only accidental death claims are paid during this time.
- Not checking the length of the cooling-off period. If you change your mind about buying a policy and wait too long before notifying the insurer, you may not be able to get a refund.
- Not being aware that premiums rise over time. Premiums and benefits increase over time to keep pace with inflation. If you’re on a fixed income, this needs to be factored into your budget or your funeral insurance could become unaffordable.
- Levelled premiums that rise with inflation. Although this means your sum insured may rise with inflation as well, this can be an unaffordable cost for some. Check with your insurer to see if your sum insured is automatically increased.
If you’re unsure about whether you want or can afford funeral insurance, there are other funeral payment options you can explore.
- Prepaid funeral. This is where you pay for your funeral upfront so the funds are there when needed.
- Funeral bond. .This is where you pay in a lump sum or by instalments and have your money invested by an insurance company or friendly society
- Super or life insurance. This is where you have life insurance or life insurance through your superannuation that provides cover for funeral expenses
- Savings account. This where you put your money into an account regularly to save for your funeral expenses.
Breakdown of my options
|Super or life insurance|
If you can no longer pay for your funeral insurance
If you think you might not be able to pay premiums, speak to your insurer as soon as possible. Some policies provide a grace period (of up to 3 months) where you're still covered for accidental deaths.
Q: Why do I need funeral insurance?
A: If you don’t have funeral insurance, the financial burden of paying for your funeral will fall on your loved ones at a time when they are already experiencing a loss.
Q: How much cover do I need?
A: It depends on the type of funeral you want. The average funeral costs around $4,000 for a basic cremation and anywhere up to $14,000 for a more elaborate service.
Q: What is an Automatic Indexation Benefit?
A: This is where your cover increases every year in line with inflation (usually around 5% per year).
Q: What is an Early Payment Benefit?
A: This is when an insurer pays out your benefit early if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness, allowing you to take care of your financial affairs.
Q: Can I nominate a beneficiary?
A: Yes, you can nominate a person to receive your funeral insurance benefit. Otherwise, it will be paid to your estate or to the surviving policyholder if it is a joint policy.
Q: Is tax payable on funeral insurance?
A: No, the benefit paid upon your death is generally tax free.
Q: Does my funeral insurance cover me outside of Australia?
A: Yes, cover is usually provided worldwide. However, if you pass away overseas, your funeral insurance will probably not cover the cost of transporting your remains back to Australia.
Q: What causes of death am I covered for?
Most policies will cover for all causes of death after the policy has been held for 12 months. If your death occurs within the first 12 months of holding the policy then you are only covered for accidental deaths.
Does funeral insurance include life insurance?
Standalone funeral insurance typically doesn’t include life insurance cover. You can however get life insurance that has a provision for funeral expenses.
How many funeral insurance policies can I have?
You can have more than one funeral insurance plan however it is not advisable as one policy may not payout if you have another policy in place. Instead, look to increase your sum insured if your existing funeral insurance is not enough.
Can I get couples funeral insurance?
You can get couples funeral insurance and this is commonly known as a joint policy. The main condition of joint policies is that both policy owners will have to pay with the same premium structure.
How do I change my details if I have bought a plan already?
You can change your details by getting in contact with you funeral insurance provider. You are able to find these details on your insurers websites contact page.
Can funeral insurance go towards paying off debts?
Funeral insurance is designed to cover funeral expenses and final expenses that you have, including any debts.
Can I opt out of my funeral insurance policy?
You can typically opt out of your funeral insurance policy if you are still within the cooling period. This period is typically 30 days and it allows you to get a refund on any premium paid.