Quite recently our local newspaper, radio and regional television was full of reports that fairly made my hackles rise. The reports stated that a funeral director in this area had allegedly sold funeral plans to a local couple and then ceased trading and disappeared with the couple’s life savings of four thousand pounds.
It’s reasonable to expect that if this person sold two funeral plans, he is very likely to have sold more and that this is not an isolated incident but the tip of a very large iceberg.
You can imagine how we all felt, justifiable anger at yet another incident that is likely to damage the good name of a profession we hold so dear, and great sorrow at the obvious distress of the couple involved.
In the days that followed our staff received numerous calls from our client families who, quite naturally, wanted reassurance that their money was safe.
We were happy to offer these assurances, confident in the knowledge that the plans we sell are completely safe and that our plan holder’s money is securely invested in a well managed trust fund.
Funeral plans covered by insurance or trust arrangements are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) however, the FCA does stipulate rules for each method of investment, so sums paid by the customer are safeguarded and available to pay for the funeral when needed. To ensure that this happens the industry regulates itself via the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA). The FPA has a code of conduct which registered providers must comply to.
The FPA also has a ‘pledge to customers’ for cases where a registered provider goes insolvent: the remaining providers and the FPA will examine ways to ensure that the funerals of that provider are carried out.
Sadly, because membership of the FPA is voluntary, this means that there are plan providers out there who are not subject to the FPA’s rigorous scrutiny. A similar situation arises in the travel industry where holiday companies and tour operators are not legally obliged to belong to either ATOL or ABTA, but would you buy a holiday from a company who wasn’t a member? I know I wouldn’t.
The moral of this very sad tale is, quite clearly, only buy a funeral plan from a reputable and well established business, like Abbey. Don’t buy any Funeral Director’s home grown funeral plan. Only buy a funeral plan from a plan provider who is a member of the FPA.
If you would like more information about our Golden Charter Funeral Plans please contact us and we shall be happy to advise you.