How to Buy Burial Insurance for a Parent: Step-By-Step

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Growing up, one thing you probably never thought you’d do is buy burial insurance for your parents. Thinking about them passing away is a very unpleasant thought, and thinking about the logistics of a funeral and burial can be particularly distressing. But in some families, buying burial insurance for a parent is a real need.

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If you’re considering buying burial insurance, chances are you’re a believer in the benefits of life insurance—particularly the benefit of getting a check from the insurance company providing you with needed funds to pay for all of the final expenses for your loved one.

Let’s take a deeper look at burial insurance, what it is, how to buy it, when to buy it, and answer some frequently asked questions on this often misunderstood topic.

Can You Buy Burial Insurance for a Parent?

Though it’s called “burial insurance,” burial insurance is life insurance by another name. It’s often sold as burial insurance by life insurance companies because people want to buy it for the express purpose of burying a loved one. 

But it’s still just life insurance. When the insurance company pays someone the death benefit, they can use it for any purpose they want to. Someone who bought a $25,000 burial policy on a loved one could spend $15,000 for a funeral and burial, then spend the remaining $10,000 on a trip to Italy. It’s their choice. They could even spend the entire $25,000 on themselves and not spend a dime on final expenses. 

Since burial insurance is simply life insurance, and you can buy life insurance on anyone with an “insurable interest,” you can buy burial insurance on a parent or both parents. 

What is an “insurable interest?” It means that you’re buying life insurance on the life of someone whose death would have a negative financial impact on your life. If your parents die without any liquid assets, like cash, to pay for their burial and they didn’t own any life insurance, you then have a justification for buying burial insurance for them. You have an insurable interest if you’re going to be the one that pays for their burial.

Some people think this is kind of “creepy.” “Parents buy life insurance on their kids, but not the other way around,” they believe. But why would a parent insure the life of a child? Parents buy because they don’t have $10,000 to pay the final expenses if their child died, and they want to have the ability to provide a proper funeral and burial for them.

It’s no different with you buying life insurance for your parents. You may not have the cash available, and you want to provide them with the kind of funeral and burial that they expressed to you that they’d like. If you promised them that, you want to be able to deliver when the time comes.

Steps for Purchasing Burial Insurance for a Parent

Buying burial insurance for a parent isn’t as easy as it may sound. It can be anxiety-producing, and there are quite a few things for you to consider.

Here’s how to buy burial insurance for a parent, step by step.

Step 1: Open the line of communication

First, you’ll need to talk with your parent. This may be a difficult conversation for them to have, as well as for you. Not only will you be talking about them dying, but you’ll be getting into great detail about things like:

  • What do they want their obituary to say?
  • Who do they want to officiate at their funeral?
  • Who do they want to deliver a eulogy at their funeral?
  • What clothes do they want to be buried in?
  • Do they want a burial or cremation?
  • If cremation – where do they want their ashes scattered?
  • If burial – where do they want to be buried?
  • How are you going to pay for their final expenses?

This last question will lead you into the discussion about buying burial insurance for them if it’s needed. 

Step 2: Provide important details

Second, you can give them some of the details about burial insurance:

  • How much coverage will be needed
  • Who the insurance company will be
  • If they’ll need to take a physical exam
  • How long it will take until they’re covered

Step 3: Talk to an agent

After talking with your parent about getting burial insurance, you’ll need to speak with a licensed life insurance agent about buying a policy. Many people prefer to work with independent agents because they can present you with options from several different life insurance companies, not just one, like agents that work directly for an insurance company.

When meeting with the insurance agents, certain legal regulations must be followed and some decisions made. They include:

  • Having your parent’s consent since they’ll have to sign an application as the insured
  • Naming a beneficiary to receive the death benefit when your parent dies
  • The person who’s going to pay for the policy (payor)
  • Who’s going to own the policy (it should be you)
  • Type of policy you’re going to buy – term or whole life (whole life is recommended since the premium stays the same their whole life)
  • The amount of the policy (typically anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000)

Step 4: Complete the application

After talking with an agent, the application must be completed, with all questions concerning insurability answered by your parent. You can’t answer for them. They won’t need a physical exam; no blood will be drawn. Based on their answers to the questions about their medical history, doctors’ records may need to be ordered by the insurance company. 

Once the policy is issued, you’ll need to review it with your parent and make sure everything is in order – owner, payor, and beneficiary are correct. You’ll also want to make sure you have full coverage from the day the policy goes into effect. Some insurers will issue a policy with a graded death benefit that slowly increases for two years, then converts to the full death benefit (this is sometimes issued to people with significant health problems).

Step 5: Protect your policy

Finally, put the policy in a safe place that you can easily access when your parent passes away.

This might be a difficult time for you emotionally, and the last thing you want to do is be hunting everywhere for the policy.

How Does Burial Insurance Work Once Your Parents Get Covered?

Let’s look at a couple of things related to having your parents get covered – premiums and payout.

Burial insurance premiums

Premiums are based on four main factors:

  • Amount of death benefit
  • Age of the insured
  • Gender of the insured
  • If health questions were asked or the policy was guaranteed to be issued

Here are some estimated rates that can serve as good ballpark figures to give you an idea of what the cost of burial insurance is. We used a $10,000 face amount because it’s the most common dollar amount applied for.

  • Estimated monthly premiums for men:

$10,000 Death Benefit

Age

Determined 'In Good Health' by Insurer

No Health Questions Asked

50

$30

$40

55

$35

$46

60

$43

$57

65

$56

$68

70

$74

$88

75

$100

$125

80

$126

$162

* Estimated rates do not reflect the rates of any particular life insurance company.

  • Estimated monthly premiums for women:

$10,000 Death Benefit

Age

Determined 'In Good Health' by Insurer

No Health Questions Asked

50

$25

$28

55

$28

$36

60

$33

$45

65

$41

$55

70

$53

$69

75

$72

$90

80

$93

$126

* Estimated rates do not reflect the rates of any particular life insurance company.

Burial insurance payout

Unfortunately, there’s ultimately going to come a time when your parent will pass away, and you’ll need to collect the death benefit from the life insurance company. There are a few things you’ll need to get this done when you file a death claim:

  • Name of the insurance company
  • Phone number of the insurance company
  • Your policy number
  • Death certificate
  • How you want the proceeds paid (check or direct deposit)

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve covered a lot of ground about burial insurance so far, but you may very well have a few unanswered questions. Here are a few of the most common questions:

When should I buy burial insurance for my parents? 

The best time to buy burial insurance is when you learn that you’ll be financially responsible for your parent’s final expenses. And the sooner you find that out, the better. 

As you can see from the premium rates shown above, the rates climb sharply as your parent ages. For example, for men, the price almost doubles between age 65 and age 75. It’s always best to buy life insurance when the insured individual is younger and healthier.

Can you buy burial insurance for a parent over 70, 80, or 90? 

The age limit within which you can buy burial insurance varies from insurer to insurer. Many companies have an age limit of 80 years old, but some companies will issue a policy to individuals over age 90, though the death benefit may be reduced for people this age.

Do you need your parent’s consent to buy them burial insurance?

Yes, you do. Any time life insurance is purchased by anyone, the person whose life is insured must know about it and answer any required questions about their health history and sign the application. 

Otherwise, people could take out life insurance policies on people they knew and financially benefit from that person’s death without the insured person ever knowing about it. 

What’s the best way to talk with my parents about burial insurance for them? 

There’s no easy way to have this conversation, but it’s best to have a plan in place in case one or both of your parents are uncomfortable with the subject. Here’s some advice for having this discussion with your parents:

  • Don’t have the whole conversation all at once if you don’t need to. Sometimes parents have to digest the information that you gave them in steps, over time. You’ll want to pick the right time – when they’re feeling good, not rushed, and open to talking with you.
  • Be sensitive to their feelings. What would you be feeling if your children approached you about buying burial insurance? Even if your parents are comfortable planning for their death, they may feel uncomfortable allowing you to pay for insurance, even if they can’t. Resist pressuring them or judging them. They’ll be more comfortable with the idea sooner if you’re patient and respectful.
  • Ask for your sibling’s help or keep them informed. Include brothers or sisters in your plans. Ask them to pitch in to cover the monthly premiums and participate in your discussions with your parents. Even if you pay for the insurance on your own, let your siblings know to avoid family conflicts. 

Don’t Get Surprised

Now that you know that you may need to buy burial life insurance for your parents, don’t delay talking with them. You can rest assured that it’s something they’ve thought about before, and they may be relieved when you approach them about it. 

You don’t want to get surprised when you are at the funeral home, and you find out what the final expenses cost – and you don’t have burial insurance on your loved one. Take action to prevent yourself from what could cause a serious financial setback for you.

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