Insurers and undertakers profit as people prepay their last bill

With all the trimmings

“WHEN are you thinking of dying?” asks John Cleese, a British comedian, in a recent television ad. Dressed as the Grim Reaper, he addresses the viewer as he prepares a cup of tea. “Your loved ones could be left all alone and distressed and facing a whacking great bill,” he warns. His advice? Phone in and buy a funeral plan.

As populations age, ads of this sort, imploring people to make financial preparations for their demise, are appearing on both sides of the Atlantic. Some 1.3m Britons now have a pre-paid funeral plan, up from just over 400,000 in 2005. An estimated 2.5m more have a funeral-insurance policy. Millions of Americans prepay some or all of their funeral costs.

The average American funeral now costs nearly $9,000, according to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA). In Britain prices have risen by 5.5% on average each year over the past decade, faster than inflation. Add to that stories in the press of...



via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

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