SunLife Cost of Dying report highlights need for families to discuss funerals 

22/01/2024   //   No Comments

It’s unsurprising to see that the price of funerals continued to rise in 2023, as reported in SunLife’s annual Cost of Dying report. 

Against a backdrop of soaring inflation, the costs associated with running premises and vehicles, as well as importing items such as flowers and coffins all mounted up last year. 

Consequently funeral directors have, like many businesses, been forced to meet a range of higher operating costs. 

That said, it should be noted that the 4.7% rise in the price of a basic funeral to £4,141 in 2023 was well below the inflation rate of 10.1% in January 2023. 

However, what does raise an eyebrow in this year’s report – SunLife’s 20th – is the fact that 57% of bereaved families are still not shopping around. 

The Competition and Markets Authority’s Funerals Market Investigation Order 2021 was designed to address the public’s apparent reluctance to compare costs. 

The introduction of the Standardised Price List, which all funeral directors need to display at their premises and online (where they have an online presence), has made it easier than ever for people to weigh up costs.

Yet there are likely to be many reasons that people are still not making comparisons across multiple providers. 

For example, the deceased may have decided on which funeral director they were going to use prior to death. 

The fact that, according to SunLife, 20% of funerals are now direct cremations is another possible reason. In reality, the funeral sector estimates the direct cremation rate is nearer 11-13% on average across funeral directors.

The report revealed that 39% of the 11-13% of people who had opted for an unattended cremation funeral did so because it was requested by the deceased.

It’s clear then that many people who choose a direct cremation are likely to have made up their minds before visiting a funeral director. 

This makes our Direct Cremation Toolkit all the more important for funeral directors. It’s vital that families are equipped to make an informed decision about available funeral options when the time comes.

Being forewarned can reduce the risk of family disagreements at a distressing time, while ensuring that the deceased’s wishes are honoured.

Another confirmation of the public’s ongoing reluctance to talk about death and funerals is borne out by the astounding fact that 54% of people don’t know whether their loved ones want a burial or cremation. 

Additionally, whilst SunLife has seen funeral plan purchases diminish by 2%, funeral plans remain a secure method of ensuring that the costs are covered and wishes known.

Taken together, SunLife’s various findings highlight the need for the funeral sector to double down on encouraging people to discuss funeral arrangements, which will be much easier for all when the time comes… 

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