Cremations without a funeral service are rapidly growing in popularity in the UK amidst the current cost of loving crisis where people finances are being squeezed.

According to research by insurer SunLife, Japan has the highest average funeral cost at a staggering £22,320 - which equates to 68.3% of their average annual salary. Whilst in the US the average cost stands at £5,858. In the UK the cost is £3,952, with Germany being the most expensive European country at £6,246.

Few people like to discuss preparing for a funeral but with the costs spiralling around the world it's an important talk to have with loved ones.

In 2022, 18% of all funerals were described as direct cremation, a vast increase from just 2% in 2018. The coronavirus pandemic accounted for this increase in direct cremations, as well as greater awareness about the environment and cost of living.

Lower costs are the main reason why people choose direct cremation. But should you take out a cremation only funeral plan to help cover the cost of your direct cremation in advance?

Here are some common questions asked about cremation only funeral plans and the answers… 

What is a cremation only funeral plan?

A cremation only funeral plan allows you to pay for a direct cremation or simple cremation funeral in advance.

It locks-in today's price for your chosen services and protects loved ones from the cost of your funeral when the time comes.

Cremation only plans, also known as prepaid direct cremation or simple funeral plans, are the cheapest funeral plans available because they don't include a traditional service.

18% of funerals have been replaced with direct cremations in the UK and still continue to grow in popularity.

 What is a direct cremation?

The term ‘direct cremation' means a straight-forward cremation without a funeral service. Typically, the deceased's body is cremated straight away, and the ashes are returned to loved ones afterwards.

Sometimes, a simple family-led service can be held at the crematorium before the cremation.

If this isn't possible then the family may wish to organise a separate memorial service at another time.

Between 2019 and 2021, the number of direct cremations grew by 21%.

What's covered in a cremation only funeral plan?

Each plan will cover different things depending on the provider and the level of service included.

However, a cremation only funeral plan for direct cremation should cover the following as standard:

  • Collection and care of the deceased
  • Transportation to the crematorium in a specialist vehicle
  • Help with filling in required paperwork for cremation
  • Basic coffin
  • Cremation fees

Some plans will also cover:

  • Doctor's fees
  • Return of ashes
  • Bereavement support

Depending on the provider, you can choose the length of the service and how many people you wish to attend.

How much does it cost?

How much you'll pay for a cremation only funeral plan will depend on which services are included in the plan and the provider.

The table below shows the prices of direct cremation plans available from some of the UK's top providers.

The information in this table was taken from the separate providers' websites and is accurate as at 16/08/2023 

How do you pay for a plan?

Cremation only funeral plans, like standard plans, have a choice of payment options.

You can choose to pay in one single payment or in monthly payments over a set period.

The maximum payment term will depend on the provider and your age, but it's usually up to 10 years.

If you choose to spread the cost in monthly payments and the payment term is more than 2 years, then additional instalment fees will apply. 

What's not covered in a cremation only plan?

In general, a cremation only funeral plan won't cover the cost of the following:

  • Minister or celebrant fees
  • Hearse
  • Limousine
  • Embalming
  • Memorial or headstone
  • Flowers or tributes
  • Catering
  • Venue hire
  • Repatriation from outside mainland Great Britain
  • Removing artificial limbs

In addition, you won't be able to choose the funeral director or the crematorium, as this is decided by the cremation provider. 

Is direct cremation the right choice for you?

Direct cremation is the right option for some people, but not for everyone.

In some cases, it's easier to choose direct cremation ahead of time because it may not be something your family considers when you pass away.

Despite the average funeral costing more than £3,953 in the UK, many families still overspend on extravagant services that the deceased may not have wanted.

Which is why if you have specific wishes, particularly to have a direct cremation, this should be planned out in advance.

A cremation only funeral plan may be suitable for you if:

  1. You're looking for a cheaper alternative to a standard funeral plan
  2. You want a simple and fuss-free send-off
  3. You want to protect loved ones from the expense of traditional funeral elements, such as a hearse, limousines, and flowers
  4. You want to protect loved ones from the additional stress of planning a funeral service
  5. Your loved ones would prefer to grieve in private, away from a funeral setting (which may be too upsetting for them)
  6. You think it would be difficult getting everyone together for the funeral, because they live in different parts of the country or world, or suffer from health issues
  7. You want family and friends to hold a celebration of life which could be more joyful than sad

 Cremation only funeral plan or life insurance?

Many people take out an over 50s plan for the purpose of covering their cremation costs, as an alternative to a prepaid funeral plan.

An over 50s plan is a type of life insurance policy that has a maximum pay out of up to £20,000 (although this varies between providers).

Like a prepaid funeral plan, acceptance is guaranteed to people aged over 50. However, the maximum age limit to take out a plan is usually 80 or 85.

With an over 50s plan you would pay a monthly premium until you pass away or until a specified age, and a pay out is guaranteed.

All these factors make an over 50s plan ideal for covering cremation or funeral costs, however, the older you are the more expensive your premiums may be.

Which policy type is best for you will depend on your individual circumstances and available budget, however UK insurance broker Reassured have created this comprehensive life insurance or funeral plan guide which may help you make an informed decision.

Whichever financial protection to decide on, it is important to put provisions in place so that the significant costs are not passed to your loved ones or diminution the value of your estate.