I said it would happen but I think you can safely say that the funeral plan price war has officially started, courtesy of today’s announcement that Dignity has slashed its funeral plan prices. Move over Co op Funeralcare, Dignity is staking a claim on the limelight.
In addition to prices being cut, what’s great about this price war is that it is headed by the only two companies whose plans fully guarantee your cremation fees and ministers fees as well as your funeral directors costs; namely Dignity and Coop Funeral Plans.
So basically with both options you know you are paying a great price for a plan that offers more guarantees than most. A win win all round.
How did the Funeral Price War start?
It’s fair to say that funeral plans and funeral costs in general have hit the headlines a number of times this year, so much so that the Government and Treasury are currently conducting a review of the industry.
It’s also no secret that the funeral plan market has become highly competitive over the last few years; so with tough competition, threatened Financial Conduct Authority style regulation and greater customer awareness, funeral plan providers have been forced to make radical decisions to stay head of the game.
The Co op has been far more competitive in its approach for a while now, holding prices rather than announcing the usual funeral plan price increases we have come to expect on an annual basis. Then only last week Co op announced a new ‘best price guarantee’, committing to beat any written like for like quotes you find (at need).
Then upping the game, this week Dignity has announced their plans have been reduced by up to £340 plus the offer of a chance to win a free prize draw of £10,000.
So if you are interested in a prepaid funeral plan, now could be a good time to do something about it.
How does the Co op funeral plan offer compare to Dignity?
Co op Funeralcare prices have been pretty low for a while now but only under certain circumstances. Basically to benefit from the full Co op funeral plan discount, you need to be a member and buy your funeral plan online.
Dignity however is offering up to £340 off their funeral plans to everyone, regardless of how you prefer to buy your plan, so there aren’t the same restrictions.
So the bottom line is that the Dignity plan will work out cheaper, regardless of your situation.
The Co op ‘best price guarantee’ is an interesting tactic as who doesn’t like a price match offer, however the take up rate on this particular incentive may actually be rather low and perhaps a little insignificant.
When you buy something like a TV, or a holiday, you shop around looking for the best option at the lowest price however when it comes to arranging and paying for a funeral, the situation is very different.
The reality is that families do not tend to shop around and compare funeral director’s costs when a relative or friend has died as it is just too upsetting. In the majority of cases they will choose a funeral director, perhaps one that’s been recommended or used before and stick with them.
Therefore the likelihood of anyone actually putting this sparkly headline grabbing offer to the test is really rather low. So one for the Co op I think for creating an attention catching offer that will probably not cost them much at all!
What makes Co op and Dignity Funeral Plans different?
As mentioned, the good thing about these two funeral plan biggies going head to head is the extra guarantees both companies offer.
With the majority of funeral plans on the market such as Golden Charter, Avalon, Safe Hands and Golden Leaves, you get a guarantee that your funeral directors costs will be covered but only a contribution towards the cremation fees and ministers fees which means there could be more for your family to pay when the time comes.
With both Dignity and the Co op, you get a full guarantee for the funeral directors costs but also a full guarantee for the cremation fees and ministers’ fees too. Therefore it doesn’t matter when it is in the future, your family can be certain there will be nothing more pay for the services included in the plan.
Also both companies are registered and regulated by the Funeral Planning Authority so you know that they comply with their strict rules and code of practise as to how your money is safeguarded and the services you and your family receive.
So is now a good time to buy a funeral plan?
Although a lot of work has been done, quite successfully I might add to rid the funeral plan industry of the rogue traders, the governments intervention is welcome and a long time coming. Whether the oversight and regulation of plans continues to come under the Funeral Planning Authorities (FPA) regime or moves to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), tighter regulation is a necessity if we want to ensure the longevity of a successful and important market that truly serves the needs of its customers.
But even though this work is taking place, given the recent discounts, now could still be a good time to buy a prepaid funeral plan – you just need to know what you are looking for. As the SunLife Cost of Dying Report 2018 stated, there’s no getting away from the fact that funeral costs are still increasing, so after the flurry of offers currently facing us, funeral plans will inevitably follow suit.
So I say as long as you compare funeral plans, look at plan providers that are registered and therefore regulated by the FPA and understand exactly what is and where relevant ‘what isn’t’ covered, now could be a great time to buy a funeral plan.