How to Explain the Real Cost of a Funeral & Help Your Clients Plan for One

The loss of a loved one is never easy. Sorrow. Heartbreak. Grief. Your clients will have a hard-enough time dealing with all of these emotions, but simultaneously, they’ll also be responsible for decisions, decisions, and more decisions. It can be a chaotic time.

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Traditional burial or cremation? Which funeral home? Which cemetery? What kind of casket? What kind of service? On top of all of these decisions and more, the most important one looms… how to pay for this sad event.

How can you, as an insurance agent, help your clients be prepared before an inevitable event like this occurs? We’ll show you a simple way to build a plan that your client will trust and feel comfortable with.

The Real Cost of a Funeral

First, let’s look at the real cost of a funeral, which is $9,420 based on the National Funeral Directors Association’s (NFDA) latest published statistics in 2021. This cost is the sum total of several costs associated with a basic funeral package. You can see these costs broken down in the table below.

National Median Cost of an Adult Funeral with Viewing and Burial: 2021

Item2021 Cost
Non-declinable basic services fee$2,300
Removal/transfer of remains to funeral home$350
Other preparation of the body$275
Use of facilities/staff for viewing$450
Use of facilities/staff for funeral ceremony$515
Service car/van$150
Printed materials (basic memorial package)$183
Metal burial casket$2,500
Median Cost of a Funeral With Viewing and Burial$7,848
Total with vault$9,420

CAUTION: These numbers only tell half of the story.

What Items Does the Median Total Cost of a Funeral Not Include?

There are many items that are not included in the NFDA’s median cost of a funeral estimate. These types of expenses will add to the total cost, and in many cases, far exceed any original estimates.

  • Burial plot (if traditional burial)
  • Opening and closing the gravesite
  • Memorial stone
  • Floral arrangements
  • Death certificates
  • Obituary
  • Honorarium
  • Catering
  • Travel expenses
  • Miscellaneous items

In some cases, these additional items can double the cost of a funeral depending on the geographical area, how elaborate the arrangements and services are being provided, or simply by missing key aspects that can be overlooked. For example, normally, a preset number of death certificates are provided at no charge. If additional certificates are needed, there is a per certificate charge. These costs are subject to local statutes. Hidden costs like these can add up quickly.

As an agent, it’s important to understand all the additional costs associated with a funeral in more detail. Calling your client’s local newspaper to investigate the true cost of an obituary can be very valuable. It shows that you’re willing to go the extra step to help define potential costs that will affect your client. And, it presents you in a more professional light with your client especially when you can articulate more details, that they probably haven’t given much thought to yet, that can affect them and their finances. You become the expert. So, take the time to investigate each of these items in your service area. This will be an eye-opening exercise for both you and your client base.

Take the time to investigate each of these items in your service area. This will be an eye-opening exercise for both you and your client base.

What Tools Are Available to Help You Educate Your Clients?

Now that you, as the expert, have an idea of the real cost of a funeral, let’s talk about how you can educate your client on this matter.

Online Calculators

Many of Ritter’s final expense carriers provide an online calculator that can help you estimate your clients’ final expense needs. This can give your clients a real sense of the expenditure that will be needed for a funeral. At Ritter, we can help you decide which calculator is best suited for your needs in the field.

Marketing Systems

One of the most powerful tools on the market is a marketing system that is available to our agents free of charge if you contract with certain carriers. This system can help both the agent and client. From the agent perspective, this system provides training modules, mailers (tailored to your business), and basic scripts that can help you guide your client to an informed decision. On the client side, you can provide a membership for a final expense planning service — a one-stop shop to help clients with legacy planning services, end-of-life planning, guidance and assistance, estate planning support, support for survivors (e.g., bereavement travel assistance, grief counseling support), and even assistance for celebrating life events (e.g., flower discounts), prescription drugs, and family legacy DVD. It’s as easy as dialing a single number for help!

Life Pre-Screen Form

Another tool that can be helpful is the Life Pre-Screen worksheet. This form will help you, as an agent, pinpoint your clients’ health risks. This will enable you to provide accurate quotes to your clients so there are no surprises as you explore their final expense options. You can couple this form with a Ritter Fact Finder, discussed below.

Ritter Fact Finder

The Ritter Fact Finder is a one-page client profile sheet that can be used in your initial meeting with your client. Using our fact finder is a benign, very casual way of gathering all of the information necessary to determine which final expense products will be appropriate for your clients. In addition, it can help you get an overall picture of a client’s insurance and financial status, as well as uncover opportunities to present products other than life insurance, such as health and ancillary products or even annuity options.

For information on how to sell final expense, check out our FREE eBook, The Complete Guide on How to Sell Final Expense Insurance!”

Rounding Out Your Final Expense Toolbox with Products

Your toolbox would not be complete without the proper final expense products in it. It’s important for you as an agent to understand the differences between the types of products that cover guaranteed issue, graded or standard, or more traditional situations. Each carrier presents their products with unique features, such as special riders like chronic illness, higher limits on face values, lower age limits that might take little to no underwriting. As an agent, you might find yourself in unique situations that could call for a funeral or estate trusts. Take the time to understand these products and their differences so you can use them where and when it’s appropriate. Getting help from your field marketing organization (FMO) is an appropriate step in this process. Our staff can make recommendations and guide you to the correct carriers and tools for your toolbox.

Summary of How to Help Clients Understand & Cover Their Final Expenses

Here’s a review of the basic steps that you should employ as you help your clients prepare to cover their end-of-life expenses and understand and navigate their options.

  1. Research — Get the correct facts on the total cost of a funeral. Make sure you’re covering all basic and non-basic items, as well as any “hidden” costs. Be the expert!

  2. Client Discussion — The two most important aspects of this initial discussion for you, as the agent, are to listen and educate your clients. First, understand your clients’ concerns, then take the time to address those concerns and educate them on the cost reality of a funeral event.

  3. Strategy — Formulate a plan with your clients. Get as much appropriate health information on your clients as possible by using a fact finder. Be prepared to present them with the best options to cover their financial requirements. Check that you have the right products in your agent toolbox to ensure your providing the best possible solution.

  4. Follow up — Your job isn’t done once the sale has been made. It’s important for you, as a professional, to stay in touch with your clients. Make sure you’re updating your fact finder sheet annually. Your clients will appreciate that you have made the effort to make them important.

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As a professional insurance agent, it’s your job to make sure you have done the proper homework to ensure you have the correct information and can help your clients decide on the correct life insurance strategy. At Ritter Insurance Marketing, it’s our job to help you give your clients what they need, and registering with is completely free. Aim to become a trusted resource that your clients can rely upon. Good things usually happen when you focus your attention on the small details. Additional opportunities or referrals can follow. Remember, you have the ability to help your clients navigate a chaotic time in their lives if you can present a simple and affordable plan.

This post has been updated to reflect most recent information and statistics.

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