Buying a prepaid funeral plan? You now have more protection after regulator intervenes
From today, all prepaid funeral plans in the UK will be policed by the financial regulator – meaning you'll be protected if you buy a plan from an authorised firm and it later goes bust. But if you're one of an estimated 50,000 people with a plan from an unauthorised provider, your money may be at risk. Here's what you need to know.
As of 29 July, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) now regulates all prepaid funeral plan providers. There are currently 26 companies listed as being authorised to sell and administer prepaid funeral plans in the UK. If you buy a plan from any other provider, it is breaking the law and you won't benefit from the new protection.
For more information on how these plans work and if they're worth it, see our Prepaid funeral plans guide.
There's nothing you need to do if your funeral plan provider has been authorised
Twenty-six companies have gained authorisation. These include big names such as Co-op, Dignity, and Golden Charter. If your plan is with one of these firms, there’s nothing you need to do – you get the new protection automatically. You can check the FCA register (from 30 July) to make sure your provider has been authorised. The newly-authorised firms are:
- Alternative Planning Company Limited (this includes Choice and Choice funeral plans from Funeral Partners)
- Avalon (Europe) Limited
- Avalon Trustee Company Limited
- Celebration Of Life Planning Ltd
- Central England Co-Operative Limited (this includes CEC FPL and CEC Funeral Plans)
- Co-Op Funeral Plans Limited (this includes Co-op Funeral Plans and Co-op Funeralcare)
- Crystal Cremations Ltd
- Dignity Funerals Limited
- Distinct Funeral Plans Limited
- Ecclesiastical Planning Services Limited (this includes Perfect Choice Funeral Plans)
- F A Albin & Sons Limited
- Family Funerals Trust Limited
- Freeman Brothers (this includes Peter Christopher Freeman and Brigid Mary Freeman)
- Golden Charter Limited (this includes Golden Charter and localfuneral.co.uk)
- Golden Leaves Limited
- Haven Personal Funeral Plans Ltd (this includes Haven Personal Funeral Plans and Haven)
- Independent Funeral Planning Services Ltd (this includes IFPS and The IFPS)
- Low Cost Funeral Limited (this includes Affordable Funerals and Memoriafunerals.co.uk)
- M&F Funeral Services Ltd (this includes M&F Funeral Services)
- Open Prepaid Funerals Limited (this includes Open Prepaid Funeral Plans and Open Funeral Plans)
- Peace Burials Limited (this includes Peace Funerals)
- Plan With Grace Limited
- Pure Cremation Funeral Planning Ltd
- Southern Co-Operative Funerals Limited (this includes Southern Co-op and The Co-operative Funeralcare)
- The Independent Family Funeral Directors Ltd (this includes Fosters Family Funeral Directors)
- William Alty & Sons Limited
What to do if your plan provider hasn't been authorised
Several firms have been given an extension to administer existing customer funeral plans until 31 October 2022, despite not being authorised. These firms will not be able to sell any new plans, but can carry out funerals for existing customers until the 31 October deadline. This is to give these firms more time to wind down their business or to find an authorised provider to take on their funeral plans. This extension applies to:
- Aura Life
- Capital Life
- Eternal Peace
- One Life Funeral Planning
- Pride Planning
- Prosperous Life
- Rest Assured
- Silver Clouds Later Life Planning
- SJP Litchfield
- Serene Funeral Planning Limited
- Wren & Fraser
The FCA has said customers should be able to request a refund from their provider - subject to their contract's terms and conditions. Alternatively, get in touch with your provider to find out if it is planning to transfer your plan to an authorised provider.
The following companies have not been authorised, so will have to cease trading immediately as they don’t meet the new strict criteria required for selling and administering prepaid funeral plans in the UK. Most of these are smaller firms with only a few customers:
- Bristol Memorial Woodlands FP
- Fox Milton & Co. Ltd
- Iberian Funeral Plans
- Mairi Urquhart & Son Ltd
- Not for Profit Funeral Plans
- P S Cremations Funeral Planning Ltd
- Safe Hands Limited
- Sovereign Lifecare Ltd
- Tyde Group Limited
If you have a funeral plan with a company that has not been authorised or has already ceased trading, you should have been contacted about your options. Some of these companies have already started issuing refunds or contacted customers with details of how to apply as a creditor. Sadly for many, this may mean losing several thousands of pounds.
For those who haven't already been contacted by their provider, get in touch to request a refund - though this may be subject to cancellation fees, so check your contract for the terms and conditions. You can find contact details for those firms that have not been authorised on the FCA website.
If you paid for any part of your funeral plan by credit card, you may be able to reclaim under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 instead. Check out our Section 75 guide for more info.
If you’re thinking of buying a new funeral plan
You should only buy a new plan from one of the 26 authorised providers, as listed on the FCA register (from 30 July). Read our Prepaid Funeral plans guide to help you decide whether buying a new plan is right for you.
How the new regulations protect you
Being authorised by the FCA means protection by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
This means if you have a funeral plan with an FCA-authorised provider that goes out of business, you may be able to claim compensation from the FSCS. This includes funeral plans bought before the FCA regulation date, so long as the provider was approved for FCA authorisation from 29 July 2022.
You may also be able to claim compensation for certain activities carried out by a funeral plan provider or their intermediaries. You can find out more about how the FSCS protects your prepaid funeral plan on the FSCS's website.
If you have a complaint against an authorised funeral plan firm, you can also now refer it to independent complaints arbitrator the Financial Ombudsman Service.