Lincoln Heritage is a family-owned and managed company that offers personalized insurance services. The company prides itself on its ability to treat its customers not as numbers but as people.
Unlike other insurance companies, Lincoln Heritage specializes in the sale of final expense insurance. It’s also top-rated, with an ‘A-‘ rating from AM Best and an A+ rating from Better Business Bureau.
Unlike other insurance companies that provide burial insurance under the whole life policy, Lincoln Heritage offers extensive coverage to help your loved ones cover funeral costs, cremation, burial, and all other end-of-life expenses, as well as liabilities that you may have left behind.
This policy is the Lincoln Heritage Funeral Advantage policy, and buying this policy gives you free membership to the independent consumer advocacy organization called the Funeral Consumer Guardian Society.
However, is Lincoln Heritage an ideal insurance company for you? Does the company offer the best burial insurance covers, as the company claims?
To understand all there is to know about Lincoln Heritage, here is a comprehensive guide of the Funeral Consumer Guardian Society and Lincoln Heritage.
What is the Funeral Consumer Guardian Society?
Founded in 2000, the Funeral Consumer Guardian Society refers to the independent consumer advocate group/organization that was founded to provide professional guidance to members’ families, specifically in the funeral-planning process. This society allows families access to the information they may need to make more informed decisions about the funeral processes. The society helps families to easily review funeral contracts, and the information provided will ensure easy price shopping for the local funeral homes on your family’s behalf.
So, if you are like most people and you have no idea about the average cost of funerals, this society will ensure that you have the best deals. For example, did you know that the average cost of funerals is $9,000? Often, most people don’t know how to plan funerals primarily because no one really wakes up planning a funeral, which is why a society that helps you get through the hard times is important.
How the Funeral Consumer Guardian Society (FCGS) Began
The Funeral Consumer Guardian Society is a family-run society that was founded by Joe Kraft. Mr. Kraft is the former funeral director who ran the then family-operated funeral home for years. The Kraft family started the funeral business in 1856, and the company has since earned the trust of communities served. The reason for the success of the company has been attributed to society’s ability to give guidance and comfort to thousands of grieving families.
Before selling funeral insurance, Joe sold a type of insurance referred to as the pre-need life insurance. Pre-need insurance refers to a type of insurance that is sold by funeral homes. This insurance policy is meant to fund the specific needs and costs around final arrangements in the funeral homes.
Although selling pre-need insurance was initially successful, Joe realized that selling this type of insurance wasn’t effective in the long term, especially because the type of insurance could only sell in specific funeral homes. This meant the options available were limited.
Soon after, in the 1990s, the Kraft family sold off their funeral home, with Joe working as Lincoln Heritage Life Insurance Company’s insurance agent. This move made Lincoln Heritage Life Insurance Company the country’s leading final expense insurance company.
Over the years, Joe realized that there was a major shift in the funeral industry. At the time, the funeral homes were run by families like his, and they served the small communities for many generations, all within their communities.
Over time, these family-run establishments were bought off by large corporations, and soon, these large corporations owned and also operated thousands of the local funeral homes, which, unfortunately, led to the loss of personalization of the services offered. The prices charged by the corporations were also higher because these corporations run businesses with a focus on profits and their stockholders.
With the high and unfriendly practices of the corporate-run funeral homes, Joe decided to come up with an alternative, a way of ensuring that there was someone on the families’ side. According to Joe’s thinking, the families needed someone who understood the ins and outs of cremations, funerals, and the entire industry as a whole.
From Joe’s vast experience, most people needed help around the whole decision-making process, and since the big corporates were only interested in selling products, this was an opportunity that Joe needed to explore. Joe was also aware of the fact that most people don’t really talk about death, dying, and the funeral/ grieving process.
Also, not many are aware of matters around caskets, embalming, and all other item and services around funerals. Noting that families should be focused on grieving and not the prices of funeral services and items or coordinating logistics around funerals, he turned his idea into the Funeral Consumer Guardian Society.
What does the Funeral Consumer Guardian Society do for families?
1. It saves families money.
FCGS’s mission is to help families save money on their funeral costs. As an independent consumer organization that advocates for its consumers, its main role is to save consumers.
The society notes that the funeral industry has funeral homes which often overprice their funeral products, taking advantage of the grieving families. FCGS is the opposite of the big corporations; it’s not affiliated with any funeral homes, religion, cemetery, or specific funeral approaches. As a result of FCGS’s system, society saves families up to $1,800 on average for traditional funerals and $600 for cremation services.
2. Taking care of the funeral process
Losing a family member or close friend leaves you distraught. The grieving process is too hard on most people, and price-shopping for the best funeral arrangements and plans often means that families don’t find the best plans. With the urgency of taking care of the funeral processes fast, with no one on the side of the family, FCGS steps in and helps to take care of everything. FCGS is only one phone call away, which means that you won’t have to call many funeral homes or insurance companies to get the best funeral plan.
These aren’t the only ways in which FGCS helps its clients. The other things that happen thanks to FCGS include:
3. Price-shopping for funeral costs
The society’s primary purpose is helping families price-shop for the best funeral costs. This means that when it’s time to fulfill the wishes of the society’s member, FCGS will ensure that the family access the most affordable services, as per the member’s wishes. To make this possible. FCGS makes phone calls to multiple funeral homes, making sure your family enjoys the best prices for funeral services.
Often, the large funeral homes will charge a lot more than smaller funeral homes, while they all offer the same services. So, even with a tight budget, your family will still be able to give you a decent send-off.
Besides ensuring that families get the best value for money, one of the things that the society prides itself in is offering its members the best education about funeral insurance, funeral services, and the best funeral processes.
For example, did you know that caskets come in different sizes from 18-gauge to 22-gauges and that the manufacturers of the caskets can also paint the caskets in the same colors? FGCS will not only educate you on such matters, but you also learn about the funeral items that you need to buy and where to get them from (say, for example, buying from specific third parties might be cheaper than buying from a funeral home specifically).
5. Documentation of final wishes
Being part of FCGS is also beneficial because it helps in ensuring the documentation of the member’s final wishes. FCGS understands that when a loved one dies, the family is left with countless items on the list of things to do, and to make sure that everything goes smoothly and that their loved one gets the send-off they desired, the society will ensure documentation of the deceased final wishes.
To make this possible, FCGS helps its members by proactively documenting the individual’s final wishes while ensuring that your loved ones stick to your final wishes. By helping its members come up with and document their final wishes, FCGS ensures that its members have the best send-off possible.
To enjoy this service, you’d have to be an FCGS Funeral Advantage policyholder. As a policyholder, you get to choose the clothing you’d like to be buried in, what music to play, what jewelry to wear, flowers, and their color, among others.
This documentation is also important because you get to take care of your final arrangements ahead of time, letting all your loved ones know what they need to do when your time comes. Your wishes will be stored electronically, and the best part is that your terms can be changed whenever.
Funeral Costs & Government Assistance
In the 1980s, the government was more involved in the funeral industry because of too much secrecy and abuse in the industry, especially with matters regarding pricing and ensuring that customers knew exactly what they were purchasing. To make all these possible, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was established, and this led to the creation of the Funeral Rule, which was meant to help families obtain honest information about funeral homes, upfront.
The FTC requires all the funeral homes to come up with a General Price List (GPL), to disclose all their pricing information via the phone, and also to ensure that the funeral homes provide a list of all the 16 items that they offer on their GPL. These items include the professional service charges, embalming fees, cosmetology fees, as well as transportation fees, among others,
The most common funeral costs that the funeral homes are expected to specify include:
- The basic services offered by the staff and the funeral director
- The use of the funeral home’s staff and facilities for visitation, as well as the funeral service at the church or the funeral home.
- The transfer of the deceased remains to the funeral home.
- Sanitation and embalming of the deceased body; cosmeticizing, dressing, and casketing
- Obituary notices and the issuance of the death certificate
- Transfer of the remains to the funeral home
- Printing of the memorial cards, register books, acknowledgment cards, as well as prayer cards.
- Clergy/ church stipend
- Tent, vault, and the setup of the cemetery equipment
The Funeral Rule does not, however, apply to the cemeteries. This means that if you are thinking that you will save your family money by buying a cemetery plot in advance, you may want to put aside a little more money because the cemeteries charge a lot of money in opening and closing costs for the cemetery plots.
There is also the fact that most cemeteries are owned by corporations and large funeral homes, which don’t often explain the opening and the closing charges. What this means is that buying a cemetery plot in advance might not be the best thing to do because it often costs the family members survived by the deceased thousands of dollars when the time to lay the body to rest comes.
Funeral Consumer Guardian Society Advantage
To cut down the cost of funerals, FCGS offers a funeral insurance cover referred to as the Lincoln Heritage Funeral Advantage. This insurance policy is offered by Lincoln Heritage Insurance Company in partnership with the Funeral Consumer Guardian Society. This is an insurance policy that helps in keeping down funeral costs.
This is because, in as much as it’s hard to admit, the cost of dying is expensive, especially on the family. These expenses take a toll on the family’s expenses. So, to ensure that the funeral expenses do not take a toll on the family, the company offers the Funeral Consumer Guardian Society Advantage.
This insurance policy is made possible by FCGS’s background in providing funeral services. In combination with their background in funeral services and how families are often taken advantage of, this policy was created.
This Funeral Advantage program is designed to provide small life insurance coverage. This policy is offered by Lincoln Heritage Life Insurance Company, and they also offer funeral planning services specifically from the Funeral Consumer Guardian Society.
With this policy and partnerships with FCGS, FCGS acts as the consumer’s advocate, helping families work within their budgets to find the best funeral services that they can afford. The partnership also ensures the protection of the consumers from the ever-rising funeral costs while also ensuring that the FCGS’s last wishes and funeral preferences are respected.
Besides being the most comprehensive final expense insurance policy, this is also the only final expenses insurance policy that gives its members a free membership.
Components of the Funeral Advantage insurance program
This insurance program features two main components; the life insurance cash benefits from the Lincoln Heritage and the family support services offered by FCGS.
While the full death benefits of the Funeral Advantage policyholder ensure that payment of the cash benefits in a 24-hour window following the approval of the claims by Lincoln Heritage, FCGS ensures that the families of the deceased receive all the relevant information about planning the funeral. FCGS also ensures that the members list the policyholder’s specific final wishes while also educating the family about their support services and the options available.
Funeral Consumer Guardian Society Advantage – Coverage
This insurance cover has a maximum coverage of $20,000, with the cash value of the policy growing over time. With the increasing cash value of the insurance policy, policyholders get to borrow cash against the cash value of the policy in case of emergencies or even to cover the premiums. The cash benefit is not, however, part of the death benefits.
Funeral Consumer Guardian Society Reviews
Generally, most of the members of FCGS are happy with the services and products offered, but the prices aren’t favorable for everyone, and some people find the cost of the insurance to be a little steep.
Become a Funeral Consumer Guardian Society member
To become a member of the Funeral Consumer Guardian Society, you need to sign up for the Lincoln Heritage Funeral Advantage insurance policy. The membership is automatic upon signing for the insurance policy.
Lincoln Heritage Advantage insurance policy is a final expense insurance policy that helps families to have an easier time getting through the grieving process. With FCGS’s background in funeral services and the free membership offered to the policyholders, the plan ensures that the policyholder’s final wishes are honored. It also ensures that the cost of funeral services and planning is affordable and easier on the family.