What Is Preneed Insurance?

Preneed insurance is a small whole life insurance policy that’s used to pay a funeral home.
Robin Hartill, CFP®
By Robin Hartill, CFP® 
Edited by Lisa Green Reviewed by Tony Steuer

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Preneed insurance is a small whole life insurance policy that you purchase through a funeral home to prepay your final expenses. Unlike a standard life insurance death benefit, which goes to your survivors when you die, a preneed insurance payout goes to the funeral home you’ve selected.

People often buy preneed insurance because they’re worried about burdening their loved ones with funeral costs. The median cost of a funeral with a viewing and burial was $8,300 in 2023, according to the National Funeral Directors Association

. Some typical expenses that preneed insurance covers include:

  • Funeral home costs.

  • Embalming, preparing and transporting the body.

  • Casket or urn.

  • Death certificate fees.

How much does preneed insurance cost?

Preneed insurance allows you to lock in today’s rates for a funeral and burial and pay for these expenses in monthly installments. Plus, it’s usually easier to qualify for than a standard life insurance policy. However, you’ll often pay higher premiums for less coverage than you would for life insurance. You could even wind up paying more in premiums than the funeral actually costs

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner. Funeral Insurance. Accessed Apr 9, 2024.

Not all prepaid funeral plans fall under the preneed insurance umbrella. Some funeral homes offer the option of paying expenses in an upfront lump sum. When funeral costs are paid with a single premium, the funds are deposited in a trust account rather than being used to buy a life insurance policy.

The cost of preneed insurance will vary based on your age, where you live and what type of final arrangements you want. Typically, premiums cost between $125 to $300 per month and are paid over three to 10 years.

If you’re considering preneed insurance, read the details of the contract carefully. Some services may be guaranteed, which means the funeral home will cover the expense regardless of how much it costs when you die. Other services are nonguaranteed, which means your loved ones may have to cover the difference between the cost of the service and what your plan covers.

Alternatives to preneed insurance

If you’re considering preneed insurance, there are a few alternatives you should be aware of. Final expense insurance, also known as burial insurance, is designed to cover your funeral and other end-of-life expenses, but nothing else. The death benefit is often higher than you’d get through a preneed policy, and it goes to your survivors instead of the funeral home.

If you have enough money to cover funeral expenses, you could also set up a savings account with a payable on death designation and make a loved one the beneficiary. The money will automatically transfer to the person you designate when you die, and they can use that money for your final expenses.

Learn more about life insurance for final expenses

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