Emily Engel works for the Kensington and Chelsea Citizens Advice Bureau as head of social policy in the research and campaign team. 

When she discovered several new funeral price comparison sites, she decided to check them out…

When only a quarter of funeral directors show their prices on their website, comparing what funerals cost can be incredibly difficult. A lack of transparency and regulation means that there can be huge differences in price for essentially the same funeral. 

In the last few years funeral price comparison sites have sprung up which should make it easier for people to make informed choices.
 

A wolf in sheep’s clothing?

Before we even get to funeral price comparison sites, a quick word on sites that look like they provide neutral information but are in fact trying to sell funeral plans. These are effectively savings schemes, often presented as insurance policies, which take your money in exchange for covering some or all of future funeral costs. If you’re considering this option there are a few questions you need to consider:

  • Does this plan restrict you to a specific funeral company?  This could be awkward if you move or or if the funeral company closes down. You may also be able to get the funeral you want for a lot cheaper from another provider.
     
  • Does the provider specify how much they will pay towards third party costs?  These are the costs the funeral company pays to other providers, most significantly to the cemetery or crematorium. These costs can be half the bill, and they’re rising faster than inflation. Many funeral plans don’t cover costs, or won’t keep up with them.
     
  • Does this plan guarantee to cover all the costs of the funeral, or does it only offer a lump sum?  If so, check if you might be able to save the money elsewhere and end up with a better total.
     
  • Check what happens if a payment is missed - if you change bank account, overdraw or simply forget: will they alert you? Will they accept a late payment? Or will a missed payment cancel the whole policy?

For a more thorough review, see the Which? Report Funeral Plans Review.

Go compare the funeral?

Here are some of the most popular sites you’ll find if you Google “funeral comparison”.

Funeral Booker
This only lists funeral companies that register with them. But the site does include lots of useful information about the decisions you’ll need to make when choosing a funeral with a funeral director.

Your Funeral Choice
This is a comparison site which makes phone calls to check prices. If you type in your postcode it lists companies in your area from the most affordable to the most expensive. Funeral directors don’t pay to be listed and they can’t pay their way up the listing, though they can pay to have contact information listed.

Compare the Market
This site provides a review of funeral pricing and where to get help and advice, but no actual price comparison.

Funeral Zone
This website compares funeral companies and funeral plans, and provides customer reviews. The site doesn't include information on prices, but there is lots of good information on the website, and they also put up obituaries.

Funeral Comparison
This only lists companies that have registered with them. If you list the features you want in your funeral they will provide quotes from local companies. They only seem to have two companies in London and the most recent customer review is dated 2012, so the site may be defunct.

My conclusion?

Online price comparison for funerals has a long way to go before it catches up with other big consumer decisions we make like buying a car, a holidays or taking out a loan. This is a real shame because when we’re bereaved we make vulnerable consumers – we need open, neutral information about prices more than ever.

As members of the public we can all help push up scrutiny of funeral costs. I encourage everyone to send reviews of companies we’ve used to Funeral Zone and Your Funeral Choice

And if our local funeral directors don’t have prices on their website, we should ask them why. Companies that sign the extended Fair Funerals pledge agree to do this so that bereaved  people can make informed decisions more easily.

Click here to check whether your local funeral director has signed the pledge

If not, click here to ask them to sign

Our drive to get funeral directors to put prices on their website will continue until we get the overwhelming sea change necessary for true consumer awareness.