Burial Insurance

Burial life insurance, also known as funeral or final expense life insurance, refers to a whole life insurance policy that is designed for end-of-life expenses. 

Do you need burial insurance? 

Likely, yes. 

Death is unavoidable, unfortunately. If you require funds to pay for bills accumulated upon your death, a burial policy is an excellent option. 

The good news is this type of policy is easy to qualify for. 

We will break down everything you need to know about burial life insurance, including a complete overview, the purchasing process and frequently asked questions –  so that you can make an informed decision. 

Table Of Contents

  1. Overview
  2. Process
  3. Best Companies
  4. FAQs
  5. How to Buy

Burial Insurance Overview

Here, we’ll cover the primary features and functions of burial, or final expense, insurance.

burial insurance

Policy Covers Funeral Expenses

Aptly named, burial insurance is primarily used as a means for loved ones to cover the costs of your funeral and final medical bills.

  • Casket or cremation
  • Flowers
  • Funeral service
  • Hospital and nursing home bills
  • Hospice

Burial Insurance Is Whole Life Insurance

It is important to know that burial insurance is a form of whole life insurance. In other words, you do not need to worry about outliving your life insurance policy. 

Your policy never expires.

As long as you pay your premiums, your loved ones will receive a death benefit, regardless of when you pass away. 

Cash Value Accumulates

Further, whole life insurance policies accumulate cash value. This means that you may borrow against your policy while you are still living. 

Cash value does take time to build, and any unpaid balances at the time of your passing reduce the death benefit accordingly. 

Modest Face Amounts

Designed to cover funeral costs and not much more, burial insurance policies are modest in size. 

Generally speaking, face amounts range from $2,000 – $40,000. The typical burial insurance policy is somewhere around $10,000. 

To compare, the average funeral, which keeps increasing in price annually, will likely cost you somewhere between $7,000 – $12,000. 

If you are in need of a larger policy to cover a mortgage, major debts, or to protect the financial livelihood of those who depend on you, a traditional life insurance policy makes more sense.

However, traditional coverage, like fully underwritten term or whole life insurance, is harder to qualify for and premiums are more expensive. 

It’s important to remember that some coverage, like burial insurance, is better than no coverage, depending on your health and pocketbook. 

No Medical Exam

Burial insurance does not require a medical exam. That means you skip the needles and nurses. Specifically, you will avoid providing liquid samples, blood pressure cuffs, and standing on a scale.

Because underwriting, the process of risk assessment on your life insurance application, is simplified, same-day approval happens all the time.

Easy To Qualify

Unlike traditional life insurance, burial life insurance utilizes a lenient underwriting process. In fact, the entire purchasing process is typically completed in one day. 

Different types of burial insurance exist. Most, but not all, will require you to answer a few health questions and none will require a medical exam. In other words, even if you are experiencing some medical problems, a burial policy is still an option for you.  

There are two primary types of burial insurance:

  1. Simplified issue – some health questions.
  2. Guaranteed issue – no health questions.

You should know that the best option for most people is to purchase a policy that includes some health questions, known as simplified issue. Why? By answering those questions, you will pay less money for more coverage – and coverage begins right away. 

Carriers utilize “knockout” health questions, similar to the following, for simplified issue policies:

  1. Are you hospitalized, receiving hospice, or living in a nursing facility? 
  2. Have you been diagnosed with a terminal illness (for example, cancer)?
  3. Has a physician advised you to receive an organ transplant or an amputation?
  4. Have you been diagnosed by a physician as having AIDS or as HIV positive?

Note – each life insurance company’s specific burial insurance health questions vary. 

On the other hand, if you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, live in a nursing home, or can’t pass other knockout health questions, a guaranteed issue policy is always available. 

A guaranteed issue policy should not be your first choice. Opt for a simplified issue policy if you can qualify.

Keep in mind, guaranteed issue life insurance always includes a waiting period. In other words, you will need to live for 2-3 years after the purchase of your coverage before your loved ones will receive the entirety of a policy’s proceeds. 


Burial insurance is one of the simplest forms of coverage to purchase. Expect a straightforward process when applying. 

burial insurance

Needs Assessment

First, work with an independent agent to establish your burial insurance needs.

Grab a pen and paper, and jot down answers to the following:

  1. Funeral plans and associated costs.
  2. Balance of outstanding medical, hospital, hospice bills.
  3. Any other outstanding debts, such as credit card.
  4. Desire to leave a financial gift to a loved one.
  5. Intent to donate to a charity, church, or scholarship.

Your answers give you a general idea of what face amount, or policy size, you should purchase. Remember, burial insurance typically ranges from $2,000 – $40,000.

Carrier Selection

Based on your monetary needs, and current health status, select a life insurance company to apply with. Again, an independent agent compares and contrasts your needs with the best carriers.

Underwriting practices, premium cost, and policy details are closely assessed so that you find the best policy to match your needs.

Choose Beneficiaries

Your beneficiary is the recipient of your life insurance proceeds. At the time of your death, your beneficiary contacts the insurance company to file a claim and provide a death certificate.

Typically, beneficiaries are those you care most about, such as a spouse or child.

Complete Application

Burial insurance applications only take minutes to complete. You do not need to leave the comfort of your home as the entire process is usually completed over the phone.

Your specific application depends on the carrier, and whether you are applying for a simplified issue or guaranteed issue policy. Simplified issue includes basic health questions – guaranteed issue does not.

Regardless of which type of application you fill out, it never includes a medical exam.

Application Decision

Often, you will receive an application decision within minutes because underwriting is straightforward.

Or, if your underwriter needs to confirm health information, as might be the case with a simplified issue policy, a few days of waiting is not out of the ordinary.

Just know that burial insurance has one of the fastest turnaround times out of all forms of insurance.

Policy Delivery

Finally, the approved and issued policy is delivered to you.

Expect your new life insurance to arrive either electronically, in the mail, or both.

Be sure to review your policy on an annual basis to confirm that it still meets your financial needs.

Remember, because burial insurance is permanent, your policy will not expire as long as you are making your premium payments. 

Best Burial Insurance Companies

Many carriers offer burial insurance. Be sure to compare and contrast company features before applying. 

There are five life insurance companies that are recommended after careful evaluation of:

  1. Customer service
  2. Ease of application and underwriting
  3. Affordability of premiums
  4. Policy features
  5. Company reputation 

American Amicable Senior Choice

Founded in 1910, and based out of Waco, Texas, American Amicable’s history of providing exceptional life insurance products is impressive. 

A.M. Best rating: A (Excellent)

American Amicable policy details:

At a glance:

  • Ages: 50 – 85
  • Minimum death benefit: $2,500 ($5,000 in WA) 
  • Maximum death benefit up to age 75: $35,000 
  • Maximum death benefit ages 76 – 85: $20,000
  • Riders included: Terminal Illness, Confined Care
  • Optional riders: Grandchild, Nursing Home Waiver of Premium, Children’s Insurance Agreement, Accidental Death
  • Tobacco and non-tobacco premium rates
  • Level benefit for Preferred and Standard health classes
  • Modified benefit for those with serious health risks

Of note – tobacco users receive favorable rates and their height/weight charts are liberal. 

Bottom line – there are three plans available through American Amicable’s Senior Choice product: Immediate Benefit, Graded Benefit, and Return of Premium. Your health determines which plan you qualify for.  

SBLI Living Legacy

SBLI, the “No Nonsense Life Insurance Company”, has been in business since 1907 and is based out of Woburn, Massachusetts. Founded by Louis Brandeis, an eventual Supreme Court Justice, SBLI insures over one million families nationally. 

A.M. Best rating: A- (Excellent)

SBLI policy details:

At a glance

  • Ages: 50 – 85
  • Minimum death benefit: $2,500
  • Maximum death benefit up to age 75: $35,000
  • Maximum death benefit ages 76 – 85: $20,000
  • Riders included: LegacyShield – a free subscription to online tools, including a will, power of attorney, and advance directives
  • Tobacco and non-tobacco premium rates
  • Level benefit for Preferred and Standard health classes
  • Modified benefit for those with serious health risks

Of note – SBLI’s unique partnership with LegacyShield helps prepare and organize important documents in one place. Final wishes, family photos, an estate plan, a will, power of attorney, financial accounts, and advanced directives are all included

Important – also included with each SBLI burial insurance policy is the Sequoia Funeral Concierge Plan, a highly beneficial program designed to assist in all funeral planning aspects.

Bottom line – the application is an instant decision process with only a few health questions asked, meaning that you will immediately know if you have been approved for the policy. 

Mutual of Omaha Living Promise

Originally named Mutual Benefit Health and Accident Association, Mutual of Omaha was founded in 1909 by a medical student, Dr. Criss, attending Creighton University. Today, Mutual of Omaha is a Fortune 500 company and offers a multitude of insurance and financial products. 

A.M. Best rating: A+ (Superior)

Mutual of Omaha policy details:

At a glance:

  • Ages: 45 – 85
  • Minimum death benefit: $2,000 ($5,000 in WA)
  • Maximum death benefit: $40,000
  • Riders included: Accelerated Death Benefit for Terminal Illness or Nursing Home Confinement (level benefit plan only and varies by State)
  • Optional rider: Accidental Death Benefit
  • Tobacco and non-tobacco premium rates
  • Level benefit and graded (modified) benefit depending on health status
  • Graded benefit is not available in AR, MT, NC or WA

Of note – Mutual of Omaha is one of the top-rated life insurance carriers on the market. 

Bottom line – premium rates are very affordable for their level benefit policy, if you can qualify. 

Guarantee Trust Life Heritage Plan 

Headquartered in Glenview, IL, Guarantee Trust Life (GTL) was founded in 1936. The carrier is a family-run company. In fact, President Richard S. Holson III is the third family member to hold office. 

A.M. Best rating: A- (Excellent)

Guarantee Trust Life policy details:

At a glance:

  • Ages 40 – 90
  • Minimum death benefit: $2,500 
  • Maximum death benefit: $25,000
  • Riders included: temporary Accidental Death Benefit (for first two years)
  • A Suicide Exclusion exists (for the first two years)
  • Policy benefits are always graded (except for accidental death)
  • Only five health questions

Of note – the entire purchasing process is completed online with a corresponding telephone signature. No paper applications are available. GTL issues coverage up to 90 years old (most carriers stop issuing coverage at 80 – 85 years).

Bottom line – GTL’s simple application with only five health questions will provide you with an accept/reject answer on the spot. No further underwriting will ever be required. 

AIG Guaranteed Issue Whole Life

AIG, or American International Group, was originally rooted in Shanghai in 1919 by Cornelius Vander Starr. Today, AIG operates in more than 70 countries and millions of Americans use their insurance products. 

A.M. Best rating: A (Excellent)

At a glance

  • Ages 50 – 80
  • Minimum death benefit: $5,000
  • Maximum death benefit: $25,000
  • Riders included: Accelerated Death Benefit
  • Policy benefits are always graded (except for accidental death)
  • Everyone qualifies

Of note – because the policy is guaranteed to be issued, premiums are more expensive than other forms of burial insurance. 

Bottom line – if you are in poor health and cannot qualify for other coverage, AIG’s guaranteed issue life insurance is a godsend. However, if you can qualify for a simplified issue policy with a few health questions, look there instead. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Consider the following frequently asked questions when deciding if burial insurance is right for you.

How much will burial insurance cost?

Burial insurance policies are affordable, primarily because the death benefit is modest compared to other forms of life insurance. 

There are a number of primary factors that affect the cost of your policy:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Policy face amount
  • Health 
  • Tobacco use

Here are two examples, based on the average burial policy of $10,000:

  1. 65 year old average health female, non-smoker: $42.80/mo.
  2. 75 year old poor health male, smoker: $85.16/mo.

What is the average cost of a funeral? 

$7,000 – $12,000

However, funeral costs vary by state. Further, the costs of funerals are increasing annually.

Costs include a funeral service, casket or urn, embalming or cremation, flowers, and obituary.

Keep in mind, most individuals have final medical bills in addition to the cost of a funeral.

Should I buy a burial life insurance policy?


Consider purchasing a policy if… you wish to cover your funeral and burial expenses at least so that your assets remain intact for your legacy and heirs. 

Insurance Information Institute

The truth is, no one gets out of here alive. If you are in need of funds to cover bills when you pass away, burial insurance is a smart choice. 

Will my policy ever expire?


As long as you make your premium payments, your policy will not expire. Burial insurance is permanent.

Will my burial insurance have a waiting period?

Not necessarily.

If you are approved for a simplified issue burial policy, instead of guaranteed issue, your benefits are typically not graded.

Who should I list as my beneficiary?

Generally-speaking, your life insurance proceeds should be intended for anyone whose financial livelihood depends on you.

Specific to burial insurance, it makes sense to name the person who will be responsible for your end-of-life finances, such as a spouse or child.

Do I have to use my policy on burial expenses?


In fact, the death benefit of your policy can be used in any way you see fit. 

Perhaps your loved ones need funds to:

  • Pay off credit card debt. 
  • Start a college fund for grandchildren. 
  • Make a donation to a charity or church in your honor. 
  • Cover loan payments.

How To Buy

You need to do a few important things in order to find the best burial insurance policy for your needs.

First, conduct a needs assessment. Write down all unpaid debts, including medical bills. Also, discuss with your loved ones your desired funeral arrangements. That way, you can understand costs associated with your plans.

One of the greatest gifts my father ever gave me was help planning his very own death. About a month or two before he died, he sat me down at the kitchen table and he helped me make a list of everything I needed to do once he was gone.

Remembering a Life

Next, review multiple quotes with an independent agent. Every burial insurance carrier is different. You will want to collaborate with an agent sitting on the same side of the able as you, so-to-speak.

You can feel confident reviewing all of your options, and selecting the best policy for you.

Finally, be sure to carefully select your beneficiaries and review your policy often. Life changes and you will want to make sure that your policy proceeds are going to those who will be in charge of your end-of-life care.

Think of it this way. Grief won’t be coupled with financial burden. Your policy will give your loved ones peace of mind, knowing that they will have the necessary financial resources to pay for the costs associated with your funeral and final bills.