An ever-increasing number of individuals are opting for cremation as an alternative to traditional burials because it seems like a more appropriate option.
Unfortunately, most people don’t specify the type of cremation they’d like because they aren’t aware of their options or because we’ve all been made aware of the existence of that just one type of cremation. But it turns out, there is more than one type of cremation – over the flame and the flameless cremation option. Today, we take a look at flameless cremation and everything you need to know about it, including burial insurance and whether insurance covers flameless cremation. So, let’s get started!
What is Flameless Cremation?
Also known as alkaline hydrolysis (AH), bio-cremation, aquamation, resomation, green cremation, or water cremation, flameless cremation can be defined as a chemical process involving the use of a highly alkaline solution to reduce body components into bone and liquid. The alkaline solution used in flameless cremation is a solution made of 95% water and only 5% potassium hydroxide or, in other cases, sodium hydroxide.
This process breaks down the body remains rapidly, but unlike what you may have seen in movies and TV shows, the resultant bone fragments are retained then dried to be turned into what looks like cremated ashes.
Afterward, the bone byproducts of the alkaline hydrolysis process can be disposed of, buried, or scattered in the same way that cremated ashes are traditionally handled.
Thanks to AH, things like implants, including pacemakers and dental implants, are separated easily from the resultant bone fragments before rendering the bones into ash.
The liquid byproduct of flameless cremation, on the other hand, is this nontoxic solution that’s made of sugars, peptides, amino acids, and soap. These components are safe and degradable, and they are disposed of via the local sewerage systems. Unfortunately, this doesn’t sit right with many people who consider this a wrong approach that has been analogized to pouring human remains down the drain. Though this characterization sounds grim, most people overlook the fact that blood and body fluids are already poured down the drain routinely in the traditional embalming processes.
What stands out from flameless cremation is the fact that this alternative to fire cremation takes only 1/20 of the total energy that is used in flame cremation. With this in mind, flameless cremation is regarded as a highly green body disposition process that allows you and your family to contribute to a greener earth.
How Does Alkaline Hydrolysis Cremation Work?
As mentioned above, alkaline hydrolysis involves the placement of human remains in specially designed containers that have been scientifically engineered. The engineered vessels are unpressurized stainless steel vessels specially designed for Alkaline Hydrolysis.
The hydrolysis solution is made of warm water, not boiling or water (95%), and 5% of potassium hydroxide with a pH of 11. These two are mixed then allowed to circulate around the dead body for between 8 and 12 hours, after which the body is completely cremated, and only the bones are left. The dissolved matter goes into the local waste system because the liquid matter from hydrolysis is free of pathogens and diseases; it’s also safe for the waste system.
This process is monitored closely and in a controlled environment, with the help of advanced computer technologies and an operator. Note that the process takes place in an airtight and a watertight chamber and that the amount of the alkaline and water mixture depends on the decedent’s weight, sex, and body mass.
For most people who support flameless cremation, the process is 100% safe, purely natural, and eco-friendly.
Like other cremation processes, the end result leaves you with ashes from the bones – these are also treated after the chemical hydrolysis, with artificial joints, dental implants, and other medical devices recovered and sent out for recycling after hydrolysis is completed.
While alkaline hydrolysis sounds like this new process of disposing of bodies, it isn’t very new as it has been around for several decades. This flameless body disposition process was first developed in 1888, where it was used for the disposal of animal remains. This water cremation process where the human remains are put in a chamber that contains between 70 and 90 gallons of water, then sodium hydroxide and/or potassium hydroxide is added. The solution with the human remains is then heated under high controlled temperatures of between 200 and 300 degrees.
Besides the high-temperature state of the solution, the pressure and the agitation are set at a specific level for proper cremation/ hydrolysis. This heated solution circulates over the body of the deceased, and once the organs and the muscles dissolve, the rest of the process takes between 6-12 hours. At the end of the process, the chalky white bones and implants/ fillings will remain.
The liquid with the dissolved remains has a muddy consistency and looks like coffee with cream. This effluent is not just released to the sewer system; it’s first treated for the pH to be reduced and for the effluent to comply with the quality standards of water and other effluents before discharge to the local sewer system.
As mentioned above, flameless cremation leaves you with the ash of sorts, which is then given to your family in a cremation urn. But you should know that, unlike traditional cremation, where the ash results from heat, flameless cremation doesn’t involve heat. The bones are processed differently – they are ground finely into a very fine powder with the same consistency as flour – so, you have the same end result as that of the regular cremation using flame, but without the burning fossil fuels, harmful emissions, or the 2000-degree heat.
When you consider this idea, you only need to make sure that the process is done at a licensed site by a licensed funeral director as well as an embalmer.
Now that all the basics of flameless cremation out of the way, let’s look at burial insurance options, specifically cremation insurance plans.
Note that flameless cremation or alkaline hydrolysis is currently legal in 18 states, and you’d have to check with your state for the legal status of AH.
What Does Flameless Cremation Burial Insurance Include?
Flameless cremation burial insurance is a great product that allows its policyholders and their families the peace of mind that comes with not having to struggle with the high cost of funeral planning and/or cremation.
Taking this insurance policy also means that your family will honor your wishes upon your demise, and the best part is that this insurance cover will take care of pretty much all your funeral expenses, which makes saying goodbye easier on your family.
But how does cremation insurance work?
Well, it’s just like other types of insurance, with the main difference from other policies being the fact that the cremation insurance cover is a more simplified version of the whole life insurance policy. This insurance product is, therefore, something you buy for a small amount, and it also accrues some cash value annually. Upon your demise, the death benefits from this insurance cover are awarded to the named beneficiaries.
Like other burial insurance products, buying a cremation insurance policy is quite simple. First, talk to a funeral director to determine funeral expense and cremation costs, then use this value to determine the cost of the policy you will buy. Since there are no pre-requisites for qualifying for such policies, the process is rather simple.
Some of the features of the cremation insurance policy include the fact that there are no medical exams needed for the policy’s approval, the value of the coverage will no decrease with time, and the premiums remain the same from the time the policy contract is signed. Also, the terms of the policy are fixed, and the policy is unchanged until your demise.
The other reason why this insurance product might be a good idea is that its death benefits are paid immediately, with the beneficiaries receiving the money when needed, making funeral planning a less stressful thing they have to navigate.
Types of Flameless Cremation Insurance
With the peace of mind and the fact that you get to be in control of your last days on earth, the final funeral arrangements, overall expenses, and your send-off, the only thing you need to do is to settle on the right (preferred) type of cremation insurance.
This is the most cost-effective cremation/ burial insurance option. This insurance option covers basic cremation, and it costs a few hundred dollars. The service includes the cost of transporting the decedent to the cremation facility, the cremation costs, and the remains’ interment. The latter depends on what you want to be done to your ashes.
Despite opting for green cremation or resomation, you may still want your loved ones to do a full traditional funeral. This is a more complex and also an expensive option since there are many moving parts involved. This would cost anything between $6,000 and $8,000 on average, but the cost could be higher depending on your preferences.
Here, the actual cost of the funeral and cremation will depend on the arrangement you come up with working with the funeral director – bear in mind everything, including embalming and other necessary preparations and transportation.
How Much Will Alkaline Hydrolysis Cremation cost?
Alkaline Hydrolysis might be greener, safer, and eco-friendly, but it isn’t the cheapest process. With a cremation insurance plan, the cremation process is affordable, though. Most states charge about $2,400 for flameless cremation, but the cost might be higher or lower depending on the service provider you choose. Essentially, the traditional cremation costs between $800 and $4,300, depending on the service provider.
If you wish to be a provider, know that the equipment used in alkaline hydrolysis is quite expensive, and a single piece of equipment could cost you, on average, $150,000 – $300,000. The cost of the equipment varies depending on the machine’s size, the pressure, and the temperature specifications at which the machine operates. If the equipment withstands higher temperature and pressure conditions, then it offers a higher rate of decomposition/ hydrolysis, which means that you can handle more bodies per day, when and if necessary.
So, because of the high cost of this cremation equipment for alkaline hydrolysis, unlike the cost of the traditional cremation equipment, alkaline hydrolysis costs more for most people than traditional cremation. This also means that the insurance policy you choose should cover the cost of flameless cremation – this must be specified in the policy.
What To Look For in a flameless cremation Insurance Policy
Like other burial insurance policies, cremation insurance is earmarked as a final expense life insurance policy that covers not just the cost of cremation but also your final wishes and associated funeral expenses.
Now, while cremation has always been regarded as a cheaper alternative to traditional burials, the cost of cremation may be going up because it’s becoming more popular among the masses, and if you choose flameless cremation, it may be a bit more costly, meaning you may have to take on a more expensive funeral cover.
Below, we share insights and tips to guide you as you look for the best flameless cremation insurance policy.
Consider the following factors.
- Additional Costs and Ways of reducing the financial burden on your family
- Your outstanding debt
Besides an amount that would cover cremation, you could add the additional funds that would cover your outstanding debts. Should you pass away with outstanding medical bills or mortgage, you don’t want to burden your family with these bills, and you can lower that burden by taking an insurance policy that covers these costs, in addition to your cremation and funeral costs.
- Income Replacement
Before you take a flameless cremation insurance policy or sign for an elaborate and expensive funeral, you need to think about how your family will go on without you. This means thinking of an income replacement to ensure that your loved ones don’t suffer hugely from your loss and subsequent loss of your income. This means that you should supplement the cremation insurance plan with extra coverage, going for the highest possible cover with your family named as beneficiaries, or even taking on a separate life insurance plan such as the term insurance.
If you take a term life policy along with the cremation insurance policy, bear in mind that the cremation insurance policy will be paid out faster than all other life insurance policies that you will take, so this cover should have a payout that is sufficient to cover the funeral/ cremation costs. The terms policy payout could then be used by your family as they adjust to the new life without you (and your income).
- Travel costs
If your family and friends have to travel to attend your funeral, you may want to incorporate a provision for their travel costs in your cremation insurance policy. This would cover hotel stays and air travel, among other costs.
- Time off work
Since your loved ones will have to be off work for some time, make sure that the insurance product you take allows your loved ones and beneficiaries to take time off work without worrying about how they will survive when they are off work.
You could also have your policy set up in a way that leaves your beneficiaries some extra funds that they can spend either as they’d please. And if you donate to charities, include an amount for donations.
- Always compare plans
Now that you know about the extra costs, your need to think about as you look for the best insurance policy for your cremation and funeral; let’s now look at the things you have to think about as you look for the ideal cremation insurance company/ policy.
- Settle on your preferred plans in advance
While it may be difficult for anyone to envision their final wishes accurately, you need an accurate idea of what your cremation insurance product will be all about – what it covers and what it doesn’t. An accurate vision also allows you to estimate your costs, and you also get to determine the amount of money that would be left to your loved ones. With an exact amount in mind, price-shopping for the ideal insurance policy is a lot easier.
- Evaluate the financial stability of the insurer
You can find these details from leading rating agencies. Just make sure that the rating is unbiased and that the insurer’s financial strength is good.
- Compare products by different shops.
Flameless cremation is expensive, and you need to make sure that the insurer you choose covers this process at the pre-selected cremation facility. Analyze all your options, ask questions, and note down the strengths and the weaknesses of the company and the policies they offer.
- Go through User Reviews
You can tell a lot about insurance companies by reading reviews left by past clients. Don’t; ignore any signs of trouble, and check the insurer’s BBB rating.
Flameless cremation might not be the preferred option for everyone, but if it’s an appealing option to you, find the right insurance product and ensure that your loved ones are well aware of your wishes.