Research carried out by OnePoll asked 1,000 people aged 50 and over if they were aware of negative news stories relating to funeral plans.
In recent years there have been reports of different issues with pre-paid funeral plans sold by some providers, including cases of fraud, poor sales and marketing practices and inadequate product design. All of which have created negative outcomes and concerns for the affected customers and their families.
Co-op Funeral Directors (part of Essex-based Co-op, Chelmsford Star) welcomed the introduction of new regulations to the pre-paid funeral plan market by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on 29th July 2022. From this date, firms selling funeral plans to customers must either be directly authorised by the FCA or an Introducer or Appointed Representative of an authorised provider. In our case, we became an Appointed Representative for National funeral plan provider, Ecclesiastical Planning Services.
FCA regulation brings higher standards and increased protection for customers. It requires firms to operate fairly and with customer interests at their core. Firms must deliver the expected product benefits and provide value for money and information must be fair, clear and not misleading. Customers also have access to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, so their money is protected if their provider fails.
The results of this survey revealed that 33% of respondents were aware of negative news stories pertaining to pre-paid funeral plans. For the providers that have always tried to do the right thing, this news is disheartening. Ecclesiastical Planning Services puts transparency, fairness and financial security at the heart of its approach and strives to be the most trusted pre-payment provider for funeral directors and their customers. They, like us, fully support the introduction of FCA regulation.
The same poll also asked if respondents considered regulation by the FCA of providers of pre-paid funeral plans to be a good or a bad thing. Perhaps unsurprisingly, results revealed that 50% thought it was a very good thing, and a further 22%, quite good. This is encouraging and suggests that these respondents recognise the benefits of funeral pre-planning. These include reducing the financial and emotional burden for loved ones, and being able to select your funeral director in advance.
Craig Jackson, Operations Manager for Co-op Funeral Directors, said; “Funeral Plans can save you money, avoiding future inflation, and can allow people to pre-pay for their funeral in affordable instalments over a number of years. It is only right that they have the same protections and regulations as other financial agreements, to give the plan holder and their families confidence in what they have purchased.”
For more information about pre-paid funeral plans and the benefits of planning ahead, please get in touch. Terms and conditions apply – please ask for details.