“Most persons do not like to consider the subject of death, as they believe it is too morbid. Hence, many fail to prepare financially for funeral costs and final expenses”, says Oliver Tomlinson, general manager of JN Life Insurance Company Limited.
Mr. Tomlinson said that death is such an emotional subject, that its financial aspects are frequently not addressed. The result is that families suffering from grief often end up in debt, after covering funeral expenses.
“A significant portion of our population would be challenged to find the sums needed to bury their loved ones,” he declared. “The result is often ‘funeral poverty’, which occurs when the price of a funeral is beyond a person’s ability to repay the costs.”
The lowest cost of a burial in Jamaica is more than $100,000, yet the Bank of Jamaica’s National Financial Inclusion Strategy document points out that more than one in every three Jamaicans could not find $28,000 to cope with an emergency, and a further one in five could barely cope in such a situation, he pointed out.
“This is an issue which does not only affect people at lower income levels,” he added. “It often occurs where a breadwinner, in their prime, dies suddenly, with no form of insurance to assist the family to take care of the expenses that arise with this untimely passing.”
“Those left behind, sometimes place themselves in debt to cover the funeral and other final expenses. This not only sets the family back financially, but also places on them the added burden of loan repayments, when a life insurance policy such as a Family Indemnity Plan or an individual Whole Life insurance plan would have eliminated such distress,” he stated.
Mr. Tomlinson also suggested that, “Inasmuch as we make elaborate plans for our lives, we should also make solid and realistic plans for our death and for the loved ones who will remain after we have gone to meet St. Peter.”
Mr Calvin Lyn, president of The Jamaica Association of Embalmers and Funeral Directors notes that many Jamaicans still experience difficulty in burying their loved ones, although not as frequently as in the past.
“Many still want the expensive funerals but we often try to encourage them to select a package within their budgets,” he said. “Jamaicans see death these days as a celebration of the person’s life and sometimes they may want to spend extravagantly. But we encourage them to be responsible.”
“The average cost of funerals for members within our association is about $300,000. The lowest cost is about $140,000. There are persons who are able to afford these costs but some can’t. What we find these days however is that more persons are better prepared in that they will have insurance products that can cover the cost and enable them to get a package they may desire,” he added.
Dr. Damian Ffriend, Senior Manager – Sales, JN Life Insurance, emphasizes that Jamaicans should seriously consider Family Indemnity and other insurance plans that are geared towards covering funeral expenses.
“Family Indemnity Plans are affordable and allows coverage for up to six persons including in-laws. The premiums can be paid monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually ,” he said. “Some, such as the ones offered at JN Life, also carry Critical Illness and Accidental Death benefits. These products allow you to make effective financial plans for your death or the death of a loved one,” he said.