For most people, the act of choosing a funeral casket is the catalyst from which the process of letting go begins. It serves as a reminder that the person they love is now gone forever. But making the final choice is never easy; a casket is probably the single most expensive item you will buy for a traditional burial funeral.
How much do caskets cost?
Casket prices can vary widely from as little as $700 to as much as $60,000. The average casket costs around $2,200.With the casket may come the purchase of the outer burial container. For more information about the burial containers, grave liners or vaults read my article on the average cost of a funeral and discover where savings can be made.
5 ways to save on casket prices in funeral homes:
1. Ask the funeral home for a complete price list of all the caskets they have to offer before you are shown any in the display room.
Research shows a customer will choose a mid-priced casket from the display shown to them by the funeral home. The customer does not want to appear to do a disservice to their loved one by choosing from the lower priced ones. However, did you know that most funeral homes ONLY display the higher end models of caskets in the funeral home? The genuine lower priced range of caskets does not even make the display.If the cheaper caskets are available,unscrupulous funeral homes can refer to them as “morgue” or “welfare” boxes to discourage people from choosing them. They may be shown in unflattering colors or be presented to the customer in a basement or dark corner of the funeral home.
‘The Funeral Rule’ from the FTC (Federal Trading Commission) gives the consumer the right to see a written list of casket prices in funeral homes so they can ask about lower priced caskets not on display.
2. Don’t listen to any sales talk about which casket offers more “protection” or comes with a “guarantee”.
Casket prices can depend on the type of material used for the casket, as well as any additional features such as gaskets (a protective seal). Caskets can be made from wood (such as mahogany, oak, cherry, walnut, and pine), metal, fiberboard, fiberglass, plastic, or be biodegradable, such as cloth or basket weave. Pinewood caskets are generally the cheapest prices, but are not often displayed for sale by the funeral home. Experts often point out that regardless of the material used for the funeral casket, the body would still degrade over time.
People who sell funeral caskets are strictly forbidden by the FTC to make promises that certain, usually expensive, caskets or outer burial containers have the ability to preserve the body.
3. Choose a simple design for the casket. If required, embellish the casket with a loved one’s possessions, photos or flowers.
The casket’s aesthetic value can influence casket prices.Many have engravings or embellishments along the sides to make the casket look more appealing and can be more expensive compared to plain ones.
4. If the funeral involves a cremation, consider alternative choices to save on expensive casket prices.
If the deceased would be cremated, then there are two options:
• Rent a funeral casket for the viewing. This is considerably more affordable than buying a casket. During the cremation, the body would normally be placed inside a simple wooden box.
• Opt for a direct cremation, which means that the body would be cremated as soon as it leaves the morgue.
The FTC states the funeral home offering cremation must inform people and make available alternative containers such unfinished wood, pressboard, cardboard or canvas box to be cremated with the body.
5. Look online or to another retailer to purchase the casket – you can make big savings on casket prices.
The sale of funeral caskets has traditionally been within the realm of funeral homes. However, in recent years, there has been a steady rise in the number of retailers and online businesses that specialize in selling funeral caskets. Costco and Walmart have a limited range of very attractive caskets priced at less than $1,000.Casket prices in funeral homes have a significant mark up on the manufacturing cost.
‘The Funeral Rule’ from the FTC protects consumers when buying caskets for delivery to a funeral home: The funeral provider cannot refuse a casket, nor charge a handling fee for a casket or urn purchased elsewhere. A family member does not have to be present for the delivery. The funeral home cannot withdraw a discount offer if the casket is bought somewhere else nor make any derogatory comments about another casket.
Casket prices don’t have to run in to thousands of dollars. Consumers are allowed to purchase caskets from other sources than the funeral home. Casket prices in funeral homes are likely to be a lot higher than caskets purchased elsewhere.
Read ‘The Funeral Rule’ at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0300-ftc-funeral-rule.
Any funeral home not compliant with the funeral rule should be reported to the FTC where they can face significant fines.