The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has taken over regulation of the pre-paid funeral plan sector and is advising consumers to buy only from providers or representatives it has authorised.
Following legislation passed by the government, the FCA now regulates the pre-paid funeral plan market. This is intended to raise standards and provide better protection for consumers who choose to pay in advance for a funeral. The changes came into effect on 22 July 2022.
At present, the FCA has authorised 26 providers and a list of these can be found on its website. This equates to around 1.6 million funeral plans which is approximately 87% of the market.
What changes will FCA regulation bring?
Major changes include the following:
- Cold calling has been banned
- No commission payments can be made to intermediaries, with the intention that the advice given is the best for the client and their needs and wishes
- If a funeral plan has been purchased, a funeral must be provided unless the holder dies within two years of buying the plan, in which case a full refund must be offered
If a customer buys a plan from an FCA-regulated provider, their money is protected, should the provider fail. Complaints can also be made to the Financial Ombudsman Service about registered firms.
Firms not authorised by the FCA
A total of thirteen firms which applied but did not receive FCA authorisation have been required to transfer their plans to firms that do hold authorisation or alternatively refund customers. The deadline for them to do this has been given as 31 October 2022. Plans held with these providers are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme until they have been transferred.
A list of unregulated providers has been published so that consumers can check where the situation with their provider.
Executive director of the FCA, Emily Shepperd, commented that the new regulation of the pre-paid funeral market was ‘robust’, saying: “We are pleased that 87 per cent of the market is now under regulation. With our new rules in place, consumers will be better protected when they need it the most.”
She noted that some firms had ceased to operate, leaving their customers worried, but said: “It is a good outcome for consumers that some providers have stepped in to provide funerals for the customers of these providers at short notice. We also continue to engage with the industry while it works on a longer-term solution.”
Other options for funding a funeral include a whole of life policy, savings and ISAs.
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