In Ghost Dog, one of my favorite movies of all-times, Forest Whitaker-turned-samurai reminds the viewer to meditate daily on his own death.
I try to do this whenever I can, but the reasons and the thought processes (or lack thereof) usually circle around awareness and breath. In other words, it’s not a terribly practical exercise.
Burial insurance (sometimes called funeral insurance), on the other hand, seems exceedingly practical. The last thing any family member wants to deal with in the immediate aftermath of losing a loved one is coming up with the money to pay for a proper burial. This expense can often cost upwards of several thousand dollars.
One route, to put it bluntly, is to simply take care of the bill before dying. Either over the phone or in person, you can simply pick out the package you want and pay for it right then and there.
Burial insurance is another path one can take. In a sense, it’s a subset of life insurance; it pays only for the expenses related to the funeral itself. In actuality it is a way of financing the funeral -- a few dollars every month means that the bill will be covered down the road.
Of course, burial insurance isn’t an altruistic endeavor. Carriers are still looking to make money on the product, and for that reason they look at data points like they do for every other strand of insurance. For example, if you have suffered from serious illnesses in the past or smoke cigarettes, the data shows that your lifespan will shorter; therefore you will pay more each month for burial insurance.
One funny/cynical element of burial insurance is that your beneficiary MUST use the money to pay for your funeral. While life insurance just means a check for him to use however he needs or likes, with funeral insurance the funds are earmarked for this specific purpose. So if you don’t trust your partner or your next of kin to use the funds they inherit from you to send you off in style, burial insurance is a good way to “insure” you have a funeral at all.
More pleasantly, burial insurance can be purchased as a group policy, lowering the rates for each party involved.