Life at a funeral home – life insurance


Hi everyone… I havent posted in a while, we have been pretty busy at the funeral home. We have had funerals and visitations every single day. It is almost like an assembly line, no disrespect meant. But really, one family out another in..day after day. Which brings me to a few things.
First, when you schedule your visitation times,  you also schedule the ‘family hour’. Family hour is just that, an hour for only family, just immediate family to come in before anyone else to view your loved one, make sure you are happy with their appearance and set up any photos, etc…yes including food..ugh! So typical family hour would be like at Noon. Then from say 1pm to 9pm for everyone else. So that means what? That you should arrive at what  time? The answer is….NOON! Not 11am. Not 11:30am. Not 11:45am. At NOON! I can see being 5 min early, even 10 min early. This puts alot of pressure on us when we have a funeral at say, 11am at the funeral home. Funerals are not always held at church, alot take place at the funeral home then to cemetery and sometimes they just conclude at the funeral home because it may be a cremation. So if a service starts at say 11am, typically the service may last a half hour to maybe 45 min then time to get everyone out of the funeral home. And sure, it would be alot easier if we didnt schedule a funeral so close to another family arriving for visitation and in a perfect world we would be more than happy to be able to schedule things that way…but…it is not up to us! It is up to the family, up to what time clergy is available to do a service, etc..then it is up to the other family who is having their visitation. The family who will be having visitation ususlly wants the common time to arrive, which is Noon. So..we must accommodate both families! Now you may be thinking, so whats the big deal? Well, during the funeral service for the one family, we are at the same time preparing the other chapel for the incoming family, carrying all the flowers that are arriving, so we are back and forth carrying flowers and setting them up. I guess in a large funeral home it may not be so bad, but we are not that big of a place, so we are trying to be quite as not to disturb the service. And as i always say, the phone is usually ringing, maybe someone has shown up to pick up death certificates or even the dreaded walkin. We are also making sure the place is cleaned up, trash emptied in restrooms and lounge from the family who is there for service, making sure full pots if coffee are made because the other family may have drank some coffee, etc. Now, we also get families that may request a certain room/chapel, and the one they want is the one that the service is being held in. Of course when this happens we explain that we will be having a service that day and they may not be gone when they arrive for visitation so it may take us some time to clean up and set up while they wait.. of course they always say..no problem, but when it comes down to it, they are usually a bit put off by it. Alot of the time it isnt even the family members who requested that chapel and who agreed that it may take us time to set up that are alittle irritated that things are not ready when they walk in the door, it is other family members who were not there for arrangements and were not told by the family that they requested that certain chapel. So they get a bit upset and we get the occasional roll of the eyes or the comment that this should have been done.. So it is important to not arrive too early for your family hour and…explain to the rest of the family that you knew that there is a delay because of certain request or becsuse you wanted to arrive at whatever time knowing about the other service. I find the biggest complaint is lack of parking. Because if we have a funeral getting ready to leave, our lot is typically full and cars lined up after the hearse, so the new family has to find elsewhere to park. . However we do have the families who are understanding and dont complain..
On to the next thing and main reason for my post. Life Insurance. Just because you may be using a life insurance policy to pay for funeral charges does not mean that you may not have any out of pocket expenses. If there is a policy that is worth $5000.00 then it covers $5000.00. If the funeral expenses exceed that amount than you are responsible for that. It doesnt mean that we have to accept that $5000 and if charges are say, $6000.00, we just don’t charge you that $1000.00! I would have thought that most people just knew this, but, like i always say (especially in the funeral business), never assume!! It has come back to bite me in the ass on more than one occasion! Pretty much the same goes for a Pre paid funeral. Even tho mom or dad or grandma or grandpa or whoever pre paid their funeral back in the 80’s, you ‘may’ still owe some money after it is all said and done. Yes, the prices are guaranteed from the day they pre paid. So if they chose a casket that is now selling for $3000 but back in the 80’s when they pre paid that casket (or a similar casket if the one the pre paid is no longer available) it was only $2000, then we cannot charge you the difference. That is one of the positives in pre paying! However, if the family wants other items and or services that were not pre paid, well, you have to pay for those things. Say for instance the person who pre paid their funeral put money in it toward their obit. Things like an obit are only estimated items. Same goes for death certificated. You can pay so much into your pre need for death certificates, but again, when that person passes away, the family may need more death certificates than the deceased figured they would need and most likely the cost of death certificates went up in cost since the funeral was pre paid. Sometimes people dont always pre pau for all the necessary items. Sometimes they wont pre pay for a vault. Maybe at that the time they wanted to be cremated but since changed their mind. So now the family has to purchase a vault. That has to be paid for out of pocket. Other items, especially what we call ‘cash advance’ items are all out of pocket expenses, which includes the obit and death certificates. But other items are, donation to clergy, flowers, maybe the opening and closing of the grave still needs to be paid, we will add that to the funeral home bill if the family wishes and we pap the cemetery, so the family doesnt have to worry about it. Maybe they will be having Mass at church, so a donation to the church is a cash advance as well as the organist if there will be one, also if it will be a cremation and the cremation charges and permit fee were not pre paid, then they will need to be added and paid out of pocket. Of course the total of these items may not be what the family owes depending on how much the pre plan gained in funds over the years. There could be plenty to cover any out of pocket or there could only be an extra $10… just depends on how long ago it was and how the economy has been effected since it was pre paid.. Your pre paid funeral will never go under what you paid into it, but it can gain money over the years. If you paid $6000 in 1996 and passed away today, you could have gained maybe several hundred dollars. Maybe in 2002 it was up from $6000 to $6500. But then in 2010 when the economy took a shit, the pre need lost money, so maybe it went from $6500 to $6350. Then in 2015 it gained a bit and went up to $6460. Hope that wasnt too confusing.
….and just another rant about calling for an appointment!  Please call FIRST!! I cannot stress this enough… call call call. Do not just show up! But if you do just show up and are told that a Director is not available right now, please understand that we have other families, funerals, arrangements outside the funeral home. I will never understand why people just show up…. most any place you go these days you need to have an appointment. So why wouldnt you need an appointment to make funeral arrangements? Of course if we are available to sit and meet with you, we certainly will, we will never ever say that you needed an appointment or you are inconveniencing us. Who knows what we may have been doing?? We could have been having lunch (yep, we also eat, just like everyone else), we could have been on our way out the door to an appointment outside the funeral home, to make a removal, or maybe going to get a death certificate signed or to file it. We could have been locking up for the night and getting ready to head home to our families, maybe we had dinner plans, or a personal appointment, we could be just going home because it is closing time and we are exhausted because we have been up since 3am because we received a death call and had to get up and out of bed to make the removal, head to the funeral home to begin embalming. By the time that was done it was already 6am and we have to be back at funeral home by 8:30am, so we have to go home, shower, get dressed and back because we have prayers at the funeral home at 9am for a 10am Mass at church for a funeral. By the time we get back to funeral home after cemetery it is 12:30pm and we are starving since we did not get a chance to have breakfast and so we need lunch. And that may be when someone “walks in”. All we can think about is, how tired and how starving we are..but once again we get up and meet with you and dont ever let on just how tired and hungry we are. So finally at 2pm we are able to shove our now cold lunch into our faces..catch up on any other work and whatever work needs to be started on the ‘walk in’ and who knows if we may have an arrangement scheduled for say, 3:30pm…or we are just finishing all the work and any running that needs to be done. And finally, it is almost time to lock up and turn the lights out so we can go home to finally relax and catch up on some sleep, hopefully! But, maybe a family shows up at end of the day instead of during our lunch or both! So, we put on our best face and welcome them in, ask them if they want some coffee, water, and to please have a seat and we begin again. . . . . So maybe by 7pm we can go home…maybe, and hope for a quiet night! This is our job. This is what we do. It is by no means easy. Some days are easier than others, sure.. but other days feel like you have ran a marathon, somedays like you feel as if you will collapse if you do not sit down for one minute, or are so hungry you feel sick and or dizzy. And there is a family that came to you. Came to your funeral home. Trusted you with their loved one. And… you have the responsiblity of providing that family with respect, professionalism, kindness and at the very least, to let them know you are available to them 24/7 from now until they lay their loved one to rest, sometimes even after that…lol.  For some reason people think that the funersl home is always open..no matter the time of day…or night. We are available 24/7 … by phone. Other than that we are open normal business hours, sometimes later if there is a visitation. I cannot tell you how many times we get calls from people after business hours who are at the funeral home…outside, waiting for someone to answer the door! And every single time they are just amazed (and typically irritated) that we are not there.. they will say ‘i am at the door of the funeral home and noone is answering!” When we tell thrm that the funeral home is closed most people will say, “well there is s black vehicle in the lot, yet no one will answer!” We have to explain that the vehicle is the company vehicle and is always there. Of course we ask them what they want, why they are there. Sometimes its only because they are stopping by to pick up dome death certificates or maybe make a payment, other times it is because they need to make arrangements. Depending on the time of day it is, either we tell them they can wait for a Director to get there or they can…..make an appointment for the following day!! If it was at 10pm, more than likely we wouldnt ‘offer’ to meet them right away, we would ask them to come the next day at a better time.  Of course there are those who will insist on ‘right now’. Or, we get someone who shows up at 6am…I am not sure why anyone would do this, but it happens. If it is someone who is just stopping because they need to pick something up, we will tell them they need to come during businesd hours, especially if someone is just coming by to make a payment, then they can put it in the mail or pay by credit over phone. There are also those people who walk in during a funeral service. I think that bothers me more than other walk ins. It is pretty much obvious from the cars in the lot and the big black hearse being parked out front that. ….maybe…just maybe,  there is a funeral in progress!! But that still doesn’t stop people from walking in and, seeing that it is quiet and and there is a chapel full of people…isnt that a giveaway that something is going on? If it were me, the lot full of cars with a hearse in front woulda tipped me off and i would have said to myself or my family, “hmmm, think we should come back at another time OR, i would have called!!!!!!!!

8 Responses to “Life at a funeral home – life insurance”

  1. OfficeMgr Says:

    **sigh** insurance assignments…I hate them. Many of the insurance companies that I’ve been dealing with won’t even send the paperwork to the funeral home anymore. I’m at the mercy of the family to bring it into me once they receive it through the mail at their own home. I can send in the signed assignment, the certified dc and the copy of the contract but until the family brings me in the signed claim form, the funeral home can’t get paid. And even then, payment still doesn’t come for several weeks. PAY THE FUNERAL HOME FIRST PEOPLE and collect the life insurance $ at your OWN leisure! I liken it to someone walking into a car dealership, stating that they had wrecked their car and then expecting the car dealership to give them the keys to a brand new one, let them drive it off the lot, and wait 30 days for their car insurance company to send the dealership a check for that new car?! It doesn’t work that way. I had one family tell me last week that they didn’t know how much they would be able to pay toward the funeral home costs until they knew how much they would have left AFTER PAYING FOR THE LUNCHEON!! Luncheon first…funeral home last.
    P.S. I wish we had as many walk-ins as you😉

    • Aren’t they just a pain in the ass!! I have found that any policies that are from one of the big auto companies will not send claim form to funeral home, only to beneficiary and it takes forever! Then we have to trust that the family will bring it to us once they get it, which we have been lucky in most cases but we have had those who have not brought us the claim and sent it in on their own and kept the money. Also have had those who have paid us with that money but were told to bring us the claim…it is just irritating all around. Then you have those ins co’s who wont even accept an assignment, like the VA and anyother government worker. So then the family thinks they have the option of waiting until they get that ins money to pay us…we don’t do it like that. If the ins co wont take an assignment then the family has to pay us now…they can sit and wait to be refunded, why should we have to wait!! We also get those families who dont even tell us there is a policy and when noone is handing over a check on day of funeral, and they say they will bring it when they come back to pick up flowers or they will drop it off later and we never get it..well, we call them and then all the sudden it’s’ oh, we are waiting on the life ins check!’ That really burns me up!! Oh and dont even get me started on the freakin luncheon! I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard people say ‘how can we now afford a luncheon’. Or they schedule the funeral around the luncheon…i dont see why everyone dont just forego the funeral and have their damn luncheon instead! Since when did this luncheon bullshit become the focus of every funeral…it’s sickening! I also get very irritated over all these families having benefit dinners to cover funeral costs! Since when did it become everyone elses responsibility to pay for everyone eleses funeral costs!?! Usually these benefits are for funerals that are thousands of dollars, when there are other options available that do not cost that much…

      • OfficeMgr Says:

        Funeral Fundraisers…you poked me in a sore spot. I work for a family of funeral directors. It has always been their unspoken policy to give their services at no charge for stillborns, infants, and children. No. Charge. All we ask is that the family pays for the casket, which we to give them AT. OUR. COST. We’re still a business so this is money LOST for us. We still have to pay for the building costs, printing costs, personnel costs…etc. A full service funeral would cost THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS and we bring it down to just our cost on the casket which is in the low hundreds of dollars. Then the family hops on all channels of social media setting up fundraisers to “Cover the large cost of the funeral.” WHAT?! The funeral is practically FREE thanks to the generosity of the funeral director but the extended family as well as the public perceives that the funeral director is hitting these families with a HUGE bill during the most difficult time in their lives. What I REALLY want to tell everyone is that the family is “fundraising” to cover the cost of the funeral luncheon, or medical bills, or cemetery costs, or WHATEVER but it is NOT for the funeral…our super awesome funeral director has GIFTED that to THEM!

      • I hear ya!! We too do not charge for children’s funerals, not even the casket unless it’s over 19″, i belive. If it is over that size than we ask for the family to pay the difference. But, everything else, no charge. If however the family wants more than is offered, they are responsible for those items. I have had families in the past who didnt like the casket and wanted another one or ask if it comes in another color..or if they could have different times for visitation, with our no charge funeral, we have set times. Then i have had families ask why isnt a limo included or what about this or what about that.. Well, when you are being given something for FREE when typically it would be costing thousands, dont ask if you can have something else and expect that to be free as well, accept what you are being given!! And the benefit dinners and fundraisers, enough already! I really really do NOT mean any disrespect, but it is no one elses responsibility to pay for your loved ones funeral! Since when did it become everyone elses responsibility! ?! We recently had a funeral for someone whose family not only received State funding but also had a benefit and alot of social media postings about how they are in desperate need of funds to cover all the funeral charges…when in fact, the funeral charges had been paid in full, and NOT by the family!! The rest of the charges after the State funding, came from yet another source who did not even know the deceased, only a family member! And they still had the benefit and any donations from the social media funding! The other source who paid the funeral bil actully paid more than what was owed because a family member contacted them after finding out they were paying the bill and had the nerve to tell them that they would need more than what we were telling the source because the family will need to purchase ‘other’ items!! Also not long ago, had a family that had a life insurance policy that covered all funeral charges, including the opening and closing at cemetery and we were able to take an assignment on the policy however, during visitation the family had set out flyers in the funeral home and next to sign in book that there would be a benefit dinner that following weekend to help the spouse and children pay for all the unexpected funeral costs and medical bills!! I was furious and cannot believe that people do this! Also, what alot of people who do donate their hard earned money don’t realize is that it isnt necessary for these families who are asking for money, to have actually chose theses options at the funeral home that racked up all these charges! There was a young man who passed away a few weeks ago, he was not at our funeral home and i had only heard about it from a friend of a friend. This young man was married with 2 small kids. The place where he worked put on a two day benefit for his family to help pay for funeral expenses that exceeded $11,000.00!!!!! There is no need to have spent that much money on a funeral if you do not have the money to pay for it and have to ask for help to pay for it!!! Then of course the families who use the money to pay for their luncheon…and the funny thing..everyone who donated money may as well saved their money and just bougt their own meal, because basically they all paid for the luncheon anyway! And.. for those who still feel as if they should donate to a family, send your money directly to the funeral home if you want ti make sure that your money is being used for what it is intended for and not just going into someones pocket!

  2. Liandra Says:

    Why do we just have to settle that it is a ME ME ME world now and cater to the handful of people that expect us to drop everything just for them and SERVE only them? Very frustrating. It is in every industry. Hospitality, healthcare, retail…. maybe if we do not jump & cater to these types of MEME’s they will get the hint? Even in grief & death some people are so rude….

    • You are so very right…i am beyond irritated with the ‘it’s all about me’ attitude!! I at one time thought it was mostly the younger generation who had that mentality (i am a Gen X’er, and i certainly do not have that mentality, my parents taught me to be respectful of others and ALWAYS say Please and Thank You), however i see more and more older people act the same way. The baby boomer generation seems to be the biggest crowd that i deal with at work..but outside of work i see all ages act that way, even small children!! Like i have said before, yes, you just lost someone you love and care about, it is not easy, but it does not give you the right to treat others like garbage, it does not excuse you from treating others as human beings!

  3. AdminAsst Says:

    Oh my! I so totally relate to every thing you posted. While we haven’t had to deal with “walk ins” lately we recently had to deal with Life insurance policies. We had a family that came in to make arrangements for a relative and said relative had 7 life insurance polices. Ugh. They brought in all the paperwork for the policies and guess who had to deal with putting all the paperwork for the insurance companies together? Yup, me. Ugh. And since then we’ve had all kinds of letters and phone calls from different insurance companies stating ” Oh we need you fill out this form” “We need you to fill out this form” “We didn’t receive the certified copy of the death certificate” . It’s been a total nightmare.

    • That is the absolute worse when they bring in multiple policies! And usually none of their paperwork is in any kind of order and you spend most of your time trying to make heads or tails of it all. Then these ins companies want way too much stuff, may as well turn over your first born…lol. some of the life in co arent too bad and very lax about what info they want from us and family, those are nice, but the others, the paperwork is a headache and pretty much just ridiculous! Oh and you know what i hate the most. ..trying to find a phone number to most of these ins companies !! Why isnt their phone number ever just listed on the policy?!?

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