Pre-paid funeral plan sellers to face a crackdown from 2022
Back in June 2018, the Government launched a call for evidence into the regulation of the pre-paid funeral market, following concerns into the risk it presents to policy holders.
Pre-paid funeral plans are designed to allow anyone eligible to make provisions for their own or someone else's funeral. It means that in the event of their death, their family will have little financial and/or organisational responsibility.
Plans will cover many of the costs associated with a funeral, such as a coffin and a hearse. However, they won't cover all costs - and it can come as a nasty surprise for the families left behind.
Until recently, funeral plan providers can register with the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA) but this is not compulsory. The call for evidence sought views for a proposal to bring funeral plans under the remit of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), so that providers must meet more robust and enforceable standards as well as offer more protection for customer’s cash if the provider goes under.
The call for evidence confirmed that there was consumer detriment present in the market and that there was a need for better access to appropriate dispute resolution if things go wrong - something that would be rectified if the industry was to be governed by the FCA.
In fact in 2018, the Treasury found people at their most vulnerable were being pressured, harassed and misled by some prepaid funeral plan providers.
Following a consultation in June 2019 the Government maintained its position that bringing all funeral plan providers within the remit of the FCA would be the most effective course of action.
As such, the FCA is now set to take over in 2022 after a consultation in spring 2021 on how best to oversee practices.
It means all firms offering prepaid funerals will have to be authorised to operate – or face having to close down. It is hoped this will bring more transparency and fairness to the market and that consumers receive what they've paid for.
If you have faced difficulties with a funeral service provider or other financial business, contact Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.