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What Exactly Is Final Expense Life Insurance?

Final Expense Insurance, sometimes called Burial Insurance, is a specialized type of life insurance.  Specialized not because it works differently but because of who it serves. That is mostly older citizens that wish to protect their loved ones from the burdensome costs of a typical funeral. Here in Florida that cost averages over $10,000.

Final Expense life insurance has the same great benefits as any whole life insurance policy.

  • Monthly premiums never increase
  • Death Benefits Are Guaranteed To Never Decrease
  • Policy cannot expire at any age
  • No Physical Or Medical Exam Necessary As Part Of The application

It really is that black and white.

Once you have your policy—and it’s in force with all premiums paid—you’re covered. To put it more plainly: You die, they cut a tax-free check to the person that you’ve chosen as your beneficiary After the funeral expenses are paid there is often money left over that stays with the beneficiary which can be used for any purpose.

Very often purchasers of Final Expense policies will use them to leave a very significant amount to their heirs. Fortunately, all funeral homes accept cash payments so these funds will ease the financial burden for the family.

The Basic Three Options For Final Expense Whole Life Insurance

All life insurance carriers that specialize in Final Expense have three options. The one you qualify for will be based on your answers to the health questions. These options will naturally have different costs depending on the level of coverage and your health.

Level Benefit Plan

When you answer No to all of the health questions you’ll qualify for these lowest cost plans. Coverage will begin immediately and will continue without question as long as the premiums are paid. This is the plan that your agent will try to get you qualified for.

Graded Benefit Plan

These plans usually provide partial coverage for the first two to three years depending on the carrier.  In year one you can expect a range of 25% to 40% of the face value. If you pass away during the second year the payout will range from 50% to 70% of the death benefit. Your agent will try to get you qualified for this type of plan if you have health issues that disqualify you for the Simplified The exact percentages vary by company. Year one payouts typically range from 25%-40%. Year two payouts typically range from 50%-75%.

Modified Plan

If you have significant health issues you may only qualify for this type of plan. As you can imagine, these are the highest cost plans and present the most risk for the insurer. These plans only offer a return of premium during the first two years which means you’re loved ones are essentially receiving a refund of payments paid with interest. Although these plans are not completely worthless, your best bet is to qualify for the Graded Plan which will cover you completely if you have an accident that causes your death and pay out a partial amount of the death benefit.

If you find yourself in this category just opt for a guaranteed issue policy which essentially is the same thing at a lower cost. Ask your agent for details and options.


Who Qualifies For A Life Insurance Policy?

Anyone from newborns to an 89-year can qualify for life insurance but several factors will determine eligibility.

  • The state you live in: Not every insurer is registered in every state
  • Age: Some plans have age restrictions
  • Health: Some plans have no health questions (Guaranteed Issue Policies) but the majority do have several basic health questions that will determine your eligibility.

The most common range for Final Expense Insurance is 50 to 85 but if you’re older you can still qualify based on your answers to health questions. It’s always better to have a small policy than none at all.

Is There A Difference Between Funeral Insurance, Final Expense Insurance and Burial Insurance?  They all sound similar but is there any difference? In a word: No.

You’ll hear insurance companies, insurance agents and the general public using these terms all the time and they mean exactly the same thing. They use these terms interchangeably mostly for marketing reasons. “Final Expense” sounds less morbid than “Burial Insurance” but they both work the same: You pass away and they cut a check to your beneficiary. It’s as simple as that so don’t get confused.

Is there a difference between Final Expense Insurance and Temporary Life Insurance?
In a word: Absolutely

Temporary life insurance is just another word for Term Life Insurance. As mentioned earlier, term life insurance is for a certain face amount for a certain number of years. If the term of your policy ends before you pass away you’ve left yourself with one of two options: 1) Qualifying for whole life insurance at a much higher cost because of age and medical conditions; or, 2) Not having any life insurance at all. This would leave the burden for all your final expenses to your loved ones.  We’ve all seen ads on TV that appear to offer life insurance policies that are designed to handle your final expenses but seem to be very inexpensive. These are in fact not the type of policies that fully protect your loved ones because they have and expiration date – usually age 80. Can you imagine paying for a policy for years that ends when you need it most?

Final Expense Whole Life Insurance policies don’t ever expire as long as the premiums are paid so don’t be fooled by this type of policy or advertising.

Things to watch out for:

  • Expiration dates. This usually is age 80
  • Price increases of any type. These policies typically have a price increase every five years.
  • Unusually low cost. Since the coverage ends when you turn 80 the risk is much lower tor the insurance company therefore allowing them to charge less.

Wth medical science improving our chances of living much longer, this is just an option that usually does not work. And with the good chance of you outliving your policy, it’s just the wrong product no matter how good it sounds.

One of the main reasons insurance companies market term life insurance policies this way is because it’s very profitable. The fact is that 99% of all term life policies never result in a death claim. Not bad odds for the insurance company but terrible odds for you.  Just go for the best whole life insurance policy that you can qualify for and comfortably afford. Your family will thank you for it.

Is Final Expense Life Insurance Different Than Traditional Whole Life Insurance?

Yes and No.
They’re no different when it comes to the overall picture. You qualify for a certain death benefit and as long as the premiums are paid, the insurance never expires, the premiums never increase and the face value stays the same. Usually, however, since the face values are typically higher with traditional whole life insurance, there are medical exams, blood tests and stricter qualifications.  Final expense policies are geared towards older individuals that usually have age-related health conditions that may disqualify them from non-final expense policies. Therefore, the insurance companies designed final expense policies so the older person can still easily qualify. The underwriting is very lenient and the face amounts are typically lower but enough to handle the average final expense costs.

Benefits of Final Expense Whole Life Policies

Lax Underwriting

The vast majority of traditional life insurance policies have health questions that usually automatically disqualify an older individual for coverage.

With final expense policies, however, the underwriting is easy enough that seniors with the typical age-related health issues can still easily qualify. This gives those individuals that protect themselves with final expense insurance a safety net that never expires and as long as premiums are paid gives their loved ones full protection from having to pay for your funeral costs. That’s peace of mind for both of you.

Below are health issues that do not disqualify you from getting a final expense policy but would have a substantial effect when considering traditional whole life insurance policies. Bear in mind that your age is still a factor. 

  • Heart Attacks Over 1 Year Ago
  • Full Blown Strokes Over 1 Year Ago
  • Cancer Over 2 Years Ago
  • Mini Strokes
  • Blood Thinners
  • Blood Clots
  • Water Pills
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Cholesterol Issues
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Insulin Usage
  • Diabetic Neuropathy
  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Diabetic Nephropathy
  • Diabetic Retinopathy
  • Arthritis (All Kinds)
  • Asthma
  • Atrial Fibrillation
  • Bi-Polar Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety Medications
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Home Health Care
  • You Need Help With Actives Of Daily Living
  • Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Non-Cancerous Tumors 
  • Blindness
  • COPD, Emphysema, & Chronic Bronchitis
  • Liver Cirrhosis
  • Systemic Lupus SLE
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Morbid Obesity
  • Seizure Issues
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Hepatitis A, B, Or C
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Defibrillator Or Pacemaker
  • Epilepsy

Since the underwriting is very lax please don’t assume you cannot be insured because you usually can. Remember, it’s very unusual to not qualify for a final expense policy and financially protect your loved ones.

Guaranteed Issue Policies

There are some health conditions that will disqualify you from the immediate coverage. For these high-risk conditions, a guaranteed issue whole life policy is the only way to go, but let’s take a closer look at the details. Guaranteed issue plans have no health questions. They have no medical underwriting at all, and as long as you complete the paperwork and make your first payment acceptance is guaranteed.

So what’s the downside?

There are two issues that you must understand to feel comfortable with no-health-question plans.

Every guaranteed issue policy comes with a 24-month waiting period. If you should die during the first 24 months, the insurer will refund all premiums paid plus usually 10% interest.

The policies that do have health questions have a lower cost since there’s much less risk for the insurance company. But with guaranteed issue policies if they ask no questions they know nothing about your health and must therefore charge more to compensate for the increased risk.

The following health issues will dictate that a guaranteed issue final expense policy is your only solution.

  • Currently In A Hospital Or Nursing Facility
  • Dialysis
  • HIV or AIDS
  • Alzheimer’s Or Dementia
  • Recommended To Have An Organ Transplant (Corneal Is Acceptable)
  • Terminal Illness
  • Hospice Care

In the final analysis because a guaranteed issue is always an option, there is virtually no health issue you could possess where you could not get a policy. 

Smaller Face Value Options 

Most companies tend to have face value options somewhere in the range of $2,000-$25,000. Some carriers go as low as $1,000 and some go as high as $40,000.

Final expense insurance is the only form of life insurance that will allow you to buy such small face value amounts.

Buy what you really need and nothing more. For example, if you want to be cremated and have no extra frills or specialized casket you may need as little as $2,000-$5,000 in coverage to ensure everything would be taken care of.

Whether you want $2,000, $5,000, $10,000 or more, you have several options so protecting yourself and your family has never been more in reach. Want $100,000 in coverage? Just buy several policies to get the total amount you want.

Why Would You Purchase A Final Expense Insurance Plan?

The vast majority of our clients buy a final expense insurance policy so they don’t burden their loved ones with their funeral expenses. But there are other good reasons as well and you may find that this also covers you. 

  • You have cash but would prefer it not be allocated specifically for funeral bills
  • You don’t have the cash on hand to cover your funeral bills
  • You have coverage now but want more
  • Paying off medical bills or debts in addition to final expenses
  • You want to leave a charitable donation to an organization

Applying for a final expense life insurance plan is easy

There is never a medical or physical exam you have to undergo. You won’t need to provide your medical records either.

Except for guaranteed issue policies where there are no health questions, the application will have you answer some basic questions about your health.  The insurance companies will verify this by conducting a prescription history check. No need for conversations with your doctor or pharmacist. With your authorization they will electronically analyze your medications history.  How they determine you are medically eligible for coverage rests solely with your prescription history and answers to the health questions.

In our experience most applications take less than 20 minutes and usually end with an immediate positive decision.

Submitting the application  

Depending on the insurer, the application process will be in one of the following three ways:

Voice Signature. This is the most common way of completing an interview with the insurance company. They take all your information including your authorization to review your health and prescription history. You then sign your application using your voice and there’s no paperwork to sign and submit. It’s all done in few minutes using just your voice. All voice signatures will yield an immediate decision regarding your eligibility on that same phone call.

Email Signature. First your agent will collect all the necessary information to completely fill out your application. Then the insurance company will send you an email where you sign the application with the click of a few buttons. You can sign using your phone, tablet, or computer. Your application then goes to underwriting where they usually give an immediate decision, but some may take between one and four days to make a decision.

Paper Application. There are some situations where a paper application still needs to be sent through the mail. After your agent completely fills out the application and sends it the insurance company they will send the paperwork to your address. Once you sign the documents and return them to our office we’ll call you to verify everything before they are submitted. After submission a decision is reached in 1-4 business days.

The Best Way To Save On Your Insurance Policy 

You can’t buy these policies directly from the insurance companies. If you were to call them and ask to enroll, they would merely inform you that you need to find an agent…and that’s where we come in.  The most inexpensive final expense insurance for seniors in only sold through agencies like ours. The best thing you can do to find the lowest cost on a final expense policy is to work with an independent agency that represents lots of insurance companies. We’ll present you with quotes from several companies so you can make an informed decision.   

After processing countless applications we know intimately how each insurer responds to various health conditions. This is very important when it comes to assisting you to pick a carrier that’s right for you.  Always keep in mind that our ultimate goal is to find which company is going to offer you the best coverage at the best cost.  And ultimately, our steadfast commitment is to always place you with whichever company is best for you. We are not committed to any one insurance company so we have no other fish to fry but to get you the best policy that will suit you needs now and when that ultimate day comes. 

We believe in order to build a foundation of trust we must give you all the information available for you to make the decision that’s right for you. And, hopefully, you’ll give us the opportunity to serve you in your insurance needs.

Looking forward to being of service.
Seniors Benefit Life Insurance Company


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