If you don’t have anything saved when you die, how do you ensure your death doesn’t create a financial burden for your survivors?
That’s where burial insurance comes in. Also known as final expenses insurance, this type of whole life policy covers costs related to your death. Those can include your funeral and burial costs, celebration-of-life expenses, outstanding medical bills, and any debts that survive you.
And plenty of reputable insurance companies offer final expenses insurance.
The Best Burial Insurance Companies
These are the best burial insurance companies on the market right now. Each does at least one thing really well, whether it’s providing exceptional value to policyholders or accepting applicants within an unusually wide age range.
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Our best overall pick is Globe Life Insurance, which ticks an impressive number of boxes, including coverage amount, age range, and policy riders. In our opinion, it offers the best value for the greatest number of potential policyholders.
1. Best Overall: Globe Life Insurance
We chose Globe Life Insurance as our top burial insurance pick because it has an unusually strong array of selling points:
- No need to work through an agent or insurance company employee
- Offers a term life option, while most competitors offer more expensive whole life plans only
- Up to $100,000 in coverage, depending on age, which is double most other providers
- Immediate coverage with no waiting periods
- No need to take a medical exam
- Relatively low rates for term and whole burial insurance options
- Whole life coverage up to $50,000
- Policies start at $5,000 in coverage
- Coverage available for adults and children
2. Best Value Burial Insurance for Younger Applicants: Colonial Penn
Colonial Penn’s burial insurance policies stand out for unusually affordable policies. Flat-rate coverage starts at about $10 per month, regardless of age.
Because actual coverage amounts decline with age, Colonial Penn is an exceptional value for people near its minimum eligible age of 50. Coverage value declines as you head into retirement and beyond.
But Colonial Penn does have some additional features that make it a top choice for people seeking burial coverage:
- Guaranteed-issue coverage — you can’t be turned down for health reasons
- No medical exam required
- Free online quotes without providing lots of personal information
- Limited coverage for the first two years, then full coverage after that
- Apply up to age 85 for lifelong coverage
3. Best Burial Insurance for Seniors: Aetna
Aetna is the best burial insurance provider for seniors because it has the highest maximum application age of any company on this list: 89. Most competing providers top out at 80 or, more rarely, 85.
Aetna also offers three different death benefit options: level, graded, and modified. Level policies are available to the oldest applicants and provide immediate coverage in all cases — good news if you’re concerned about your health.
- Level coverage with death benefits as high as $35,000, depending on age
- Applicants up to age 85 qualify for $15,000 in coverage
- $10,000 in coverage for applicants up to age 89
- Accidental death coverage available on all policy types
- Graded and modified policies have two-year waiting periods for full benefits, but accidental death benefits are available immediately in all cases
4. Best for Children: Transamerica
Transamerica is one of the few burial insurance companies that offers the same final expenses product to people of all ages — up to the maximum application age of 85.
Kids as young as 15 days can apply for up to $50,000 in final expenses coverage. Premiums are fixed for life and provide predictable level coverage regardless of how long you live. If you’re concerned about what the unthinkable — the death of a child — might mean for your family’s financial position, Transamerica deserves close consideration.
- Get up to $25,000 in coverage at age 85 — higher than many competitors
- Choose from lifetime or 10-year premium payment schedules; with a 10-year schedule, you fully pay for your policy in 10 years and no longer have to make premium payments thereafter
- Apply for as little as $1,000 in coverage
- No medical exam required
5. Best for No Medical Exam: Mutual of Omaha
Mutual of Omaha isn’t the only burial insurance company that issues policies without requiring a medical exam. But its no-exam underwriting process is particularly easy for applicants. You just have to answer a few basic questions about yourself, and you’re good to go.
Mutual of Omaha asks no health-related questions on your application — good news if you’re concerned about your health. The policy is guaranteed-issue, meaning it can’t turn you down for health reasons.
- Up to $25,000 in coverage, depending on age
- Apply up to age 85
- Level benefits and premiums on all policies
6. Best for Riders (Policy Add-ons): Foresters Financial
Foresters Financial offers lifelong final expenses insurance coverage with guaranteed level premiums.
What sets Foresters apart is its selection of no-cost riders included on every final expenses policy:
- Accelerated death benefit, which allows you to access a portion of your death benefit in life if you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness
- Common carrier accidental death rider, which may provide an additional death benefit if you die in a plane, bus, or train accident
- Family health benefit rider, which may cover health-related expenses that occur due to natural disasters, such as ambulance rides
- Policies range up to $35,000
- Apply up to age 85
- No medical exam required
7. Best for Immediate Coverage: Fidelity Life
Fidelity Life has the most expansive lineup of burial insurance products offering full coverage right away. These products dispense with the two-year waiting period for full benefits that’s common elsewhere in the industry, so they’re ideal for applicants who aren’t sure how long they have left to live.
- Policies range up to $35,000
- Apply up to age 85
- No medical exam required, but you may pay less if you’re in good health
8. Best for Bundle Discounts: AAA Life Insurance Company
AAA Life Insurance Company markets burial insurance policies to AAA members, but you don’t need to have a current AAA membership to get a policy. You’ll just need to pay an additional $60 annual fee on top of your premium — a fee that could be offset if you bundle life insurance with other insurance products marketed by AAA, like auto insurance.
- No health questions or medical exam
- Apply up to age 85
- Qualify for up to $25,000 in coverage
- Stop paying premiums at age 100 without losing coverage
- Automatic accidental death rider doubles your death benefit if you die in a qualifying accident
Methodology: How We Select the Best Burial Insurance Companies
We selected the best final expenses insurance companies using several factors, including eligible age to apply, policy type options, coverage amounts, and medical exam requirements. No single factor overrules any other, but we prefer companies that score well on as many metrics as possible.
Most burial insurance policies target older people who never purchased life insurance or allowed term life insurance policies purchased earlier in life to expire. Many folks don’t purchase burial insurance until they’re past retirement age, and that’s OK — if they’re in good shape, they likely have decades left to live.
However, all else being equal, we prefer burial insurance companies that accept applications within a wide age range.
The upper end of this range is critical because many people don’t feel the need to apply for burial insurance until they’ve exhausted their retirement savings in their 70s or 80s. A $25,000 policy can make the difference between a considerable burden on a surviving spouse or offspring and a fully paid-for send-off.
Most burial insurance is structured as whole life — a type of permanent policy that builds cash value and doesn’t expire unless you stop paying premiums. That said, we’re fans of companies that offer more affordable types of final expenses coverage for people who don’t need the cash value component.
Most burial insurance policies have relatively small death benefits because they’re designed to cover a narrow set of costs related to the policyholder’s death rather than replace their income for many years or pay off big debts.
Still, there’s considerable variation between providers when it comes to actual coverage amounts. Some life insurance companies top out at $25,000 in coverage regardless of age, while others offer as much as $50,000 or even $100,000 to younger applicants. That matters if you want your heirs to have something left over after settling your affairs.
The biggest question when it comes to burial insurance underwriting is whether the policy is guaranteed-issue.
“Guaranteed-issue” means the company can’t turn you down for any health-related reason. You could be on death’s door and still qualify for a policy.
By definition, guaranteed-issue policies don’t require a medical exam. Many other burial insurance policies don’t require a medical exam either, and that’s an important consideration if you’re concerned about what such an exam would turn up. All else being equal, we’re fans of policies that make underwriting as uncomplicated as possible.
Riders & Add-Ons
The primary purpose of burial insurance is straightforward: to help cover funeral costs and burial expenses.
But the best burial insurance policies have add-ons — some optional, some already built into the price — that enhance their value. A common example is accidental death and dismemberment coverage, a rider that typically provides double the death benefit if you die in a covered accident.
The best burial insurance policies promise immediate coverage. You can get approved for a policy on Monday and die on Thursday, and the insurer won’t bat an eyelash when the time comes to approve the payout.
Other burial insurers are more conservative. Their policies have waiting periods as long as two years, meaning your heirs are out of luck if you die before then. Needless to say, we prefer immediate coverage, though a waiting period isn’t an automatic disqualifier if the policy is otherwise good.
Company Reputation & Financial Strength
Finally, insurance companies live and die by their reputations and financial strength. If an insurer doesn’t have the funds to pay the death benefits on your policy, what good was your policy in the first place?
All the companies on this list are well regarded by insurance experts and have good or excellent financial strength ratings from impartial ratings agencies like A.M. Best.
Burial Insurance Company FAQS
Fortunately, as insurance goes, burial insurance isn’t that complicated. But there are some common questions people have.
What Is Burial Insurance?
Burial insurance is a special type of whole life insurance designed to cover the policyholder’s final expenses. These can include:
- Funeral and cremation expenses
- Burial expenses
- Medical bills related to end-of-life care
- Celebration-of-life expenses
But a burial insurance policy’s beneficiary can generally use the death benefit however they see fit. If there’s money left over after paying for the policyholder’s final expenses, the beneficiary gets to keep it.
Is Burial Insurance Expensive?
Burial insurance is relatively expensive because it’s designed for older applicants. A 60-year-old will pay significantly more for $50,000 in burial insurance coverage than a 30-year-old would for a $50,000 whole life policy.
However, the actual monthly premium on a burial insurance policy is likely to be manageable due to the policy’s small size.
Do You Need a Medical Exam to Get Burial Insurance?
Most burial insurance policies qualify as no-medical-exam life insurance. You don’t have to take a medical exam as a condition of coverage and might not even have to answer any health-related questions.
Be aware that there’s a difference between guaranteed-issue burial insurance and simplified-issue burial insurance.
Neither requires a medical exam, but the company can’t turn you down for guaranteed-issue burial insurance for any health-related reason. It can turn you down for a simplified-issue policy if your family health history or answers to health-related questions turn up something concerning.
Does Burial Insurance Expire?
Burial insurance is generally structured as whole life insurance, a type of permanent life insurance. Your policy doesn’t have a fixed term and won’t expire, even if you live a very long time after buying it. If you reach an advanced age — typically 95 or 100 — you may be allowed to stop paying premiums without sacrificing your death benefit.
All that said, if you stop paying premiums before your policy allows you to, your policy could expire. In that case, you’ll have to reapply — probably at a higher premium — if you want to reinstate coverage.
How Do I Know How My Burial Insurance Pays Out?
There are three death benefit payout options: level, graded, and modified.
Level policies’ death benefits remain constant throughout the policy’s life, regardless of how soon you die after purchasing coverage. Graded death benefits increase with time, with the full benefit typically available only after the two-year waiting period ends. Modified death benefits take two full years to kick in — if you die during the waiting period, your beneficiaries may only receive the premiums you paid plus a small percentage of the death benefit.
Can an Insurance Company Deny a Burial Insurance Claim?
It’s very rare for insurers to deny burial insurance claims. The most common reasons for a denied claim include:
- The policyholder stopped paying premiums and didn’t reinstate the policy.
- The policyholder died during the waiting period.
- The policyholder died due to an excluded reason, such as suicide during the policy’s first two years.
For a better understanding of when your insurer is within its rights to deny a claim on your policy, read your policy documents carefully. If you have an insurance agent, don’t hesitate to ask them to explain anything that’s unclear.
How to Choose the Best Burial Insurance Company
If you’re not sure exactly which policy is right for you, take a step back and consider your personal circumstances and objectives.
If you’re relatively young, you’ll have far more options. A burial insurance policy might not even be the best choice for you — a traditional term life or smaller-dollar whole life policy could make more sense.
If you’re set on burial insurance, consider:
- How much coverage you expect to need
- How long you expect to live, which matters if you’re considering a graded or modified death benefit that doesn’t fully kick in for two years
- Which types of expenses you expect your survivors to encounter
- Whether you want your survivors to have an inheritance left over after settling your affairs
- Whether you need guaranteed-issue coverage due to health issues
- Any riders that appeal to you, such as accidental death or medical evacuation coverage
Once you have a good idea of what you’re looking for, take another look at your options and choose the policy that best fits your needs.