Best Burial Insurance Companies

Mutual of Omaha has high coverage amounts and a terminal illness rider

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Burial insurance—also referred to as senior life insurance and final expense insurance—is a whole life insurance policy intended to cover funeral costs and other modest expenses when you die. The death benefit is usually under $50,000, and you can typically get approved without a medical exam. Though some policies may require you to answer questions about your health, others don’t. Those are guaranteed-issue policies, which means that as long as you fit the age requirements, you’ll get coverage, regardless of any health issues. 

Final expense policies are best suited for people with health issues that would keep them from being approved for a policy that requires a medical exam. While the low coverage amounts may keep burial insurance premiums affordable, these policies are actually more expensive per dollar of death benefit than policies that require an exam. 

To determine the best burial insurance companies, we reviewed 91 life insurance companies and found 28 that offer it. To determine the best among those, we looked at financial strength, history of customer complaints, coverage maximums, graded benefit periods, and ease of application.

Best Burial Insurance Companies

Most final expense policies have a graded death benefit. That typically means that if you die of natural causes during the first two years, your beneficiaries will receive a refund of the premiums you paid instead of the full death benefit. When shopping for life insurance, note if a policy has a graded death benefit and how long the graded period is.

Best Overall : Mutual of Omaha

Investopedia's Rating
4.8

Mutual_of_Omaha

Mutual_of_Omaha

  • AM Best Rating: A+
  • Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Policies available to 85 year olds

  • Some policies include a terminal illness rider

  • A+ financial strength rating

  • Death benefit up to $40,000 available

  • Some policies don’t have a graded benefit

Cons
  • More complaints than top competitors

Mutual of Omaha offers a suite of attractive features for those interested in a final expense policy. To start, the company is A+ rated by AM Best, which means it has a superior ability to honor its insurance obligations, such as paying claims. You can also apply online for quick coverage of up to $25,000. But you also have the option to apply with an agent for a larger coverage amount and extra perks (not all companies offer this). With an agent, you’re eligible for a death benefit of up to $40,000, and may be able to get a policy without a graded death benefit and with a terminal illness rider. Mutual of Omaha is one of only a few companies to offer a final expense policy without a graded death benefit. It’s also the only company on this list to offer a terminal illness rider (on some policies) and burial insurance to 85 year olds.

One strike against the company is that it doesn’t do as well as its peers when it comes to customer complaints. Mutual of Omaha received slightly more complaints than expected for a company of its size, as measured by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). All other companies in this list received fewer.

Read our full review of Mutual of Omaha life insurance to learn more.

Best for Instant-Issue Policies : SBLI

Investopedia's Rating
4.7

SBLI Life Insurance

SBLI Life Insurance

  • AM Best Rating: A
  • Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Instant-issue policies

  • Fewer customer complaints than expected, relative to its size

  • Some policies don’t have a graded benefit

  • Coverage available up to $35,000

Cons
  • On policies with a graded death benefit, the graded period lasts three years

SBLI is a financially stable life insurance company that receives few customer complaints and offers instant-issue burial insurance policies for up to $35,000 in coverage. What’s great is that the company doesn’t put special coverage limitations on online applications. For instance, Mutual of Omaha offers final expense policies for up to $40,000 in coverage, but you can only get that amount if you apply with an agent—the maximum death benefit available with online applications is $25,000. 

Once you submit your online application with SBLI, you’ll know right away if you’re approved. This is one reason we think it’s the best for instant-issue burial insurance. SBLI is also offers some final expense policies without a graded death benefit; once you’re approved, you’ll find out whether your policy has one. But if it does, be aware that SBLI’s graded benefit period lasts for three years—one year longer than every other company on our list. That means if you die a natural death within that timeframe, your beneficiaries will receive a reduced death benefit. 

Read our full review of SBLI life insurance to learn more.

Best for Guaranteed-Issue Policies : TruStage

Investopedia's Rating
4.6

TruStage

 TruStage

  • AM Best Rating: A
  • Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Easy online application

  • Fewer customer complaints than expected, relative to its size

  • Same-day coverage

Cons
  • All policies have a two-year graded benefit

TruStage Life Insurance Agency, whose policies are underwritten by CMFG, offers a very straightforward final expense policy that’s easy to apply for, which is why it’s our pick for best company for guaranteed-issue life insurance. There are zero health questions, the application is completely online, and it only consists of a few steps. You’ll name your beneficiaries, provide basic personal information, and make your first payment. Once your payment clears, you’re covered. 

If you’ve been refused life insurance before and want to get something in place without hassling with health questions, this policy may be one to consider. Just know that there is a two-year graded death benefit on all policies, and the maximum death benefit available is $20,000. 

Read our full review of TruStage life insurance to learn more.

Best for Financial Stability : State Farm

Investopedia's Rating
4.4

State Farm

State Farm

  • AM Best Rating: A++
  • Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Highest financial strength rating

  • No. 1 for customer satisfaction

  • Very few customer complaints relative to its size

  • Policyholders are eligible for dividends

Cons
  • Maximum $10,000 death benefit

  • Must apply with an agent

State Farm is a powerhouse of a life insurance company. It received an A++ financial strength rating from AM Best, which is the highest grade possible. That means the credit rating agency thinks State Farm has a superior ability to honor its insurance obligations, including paying claims. Plus, State Farm was the top-ranked company for customer satisfaction in J.D. Power’s 2021 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study, beating out both Nationwide (No. 2) and Mutual of Omaha (No. 5) which are also on this list. Unsurprisingly, the company has received very few customer complaints over the past few years, according to NAIC data. We should also mention that its final expense policies are eligible to earn dividends. 

So why isn’t it our top pick for best burial insurance company? Because the only coverage amount available is $10,000—that’s half as much as what TruStage offers and one-fifth the amount you can apply for with Nationwide. Plus, you can’t get coverage online—you’ll need to talk to an agent to apply. 

Read our full review of State Farm life insurance to learn more.

Fewest Complaints : Nationwide

Investopedia's Rating
4.3

Nationwide

Nationwide

  • AM Best Rating: A+
  • Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Death benefit of up to $50,000 available

  • A+ financial strength rating

  • No. 2 for customer satisfaction

  • Very few customer complaints relative to its size

Cons
  • Policies have a two-year graded benefit

  • Must apply with an agent

  • Must already be a Nationwide policyholder to apply

Nationwide is another standout life insurance company. In fact, it’s our number-one pick for the best life insurance companies of 2022. And we’re not the only ones who like it. According to the J.D. Power study, it came in second for customer satisfaction. It also has the best complaint rating of any company on this list, and has an A+ financial strength grade from AM Best (this means it’s well-positioned to pay policy claims). 

The thing we particularly like about Nationwide’s final expense policy is that you can apply for a death benefit of up to $50,000, which is not only the highest available on this list, it’s the highest we’ve seen for this type of policy anywhere. That said, there’s one major mark against this policy. You need to be an existing Nationwide policyholder–or the family member of one–to apply. You’ll also need to apply with an agent, and policies may have a two-year graded death benefit period, depending on your state. 

For more information, check out Investopedia’s full Nationwide review.

Final Verdict

In determining which of these (or any other) burial insurance company is best for you, you should consider your needs and priorities. If you need something quick and easy, look to companies that offer an agent-free online application process like Mutual of Omaha, SBLI, and TruStage. If you need a higher-coverage final expense policy, your options are more limited: Mutual of Omaha and SBLI are two to consider. Nationwide may also be, but its final expense policy is only available if you already have some other kind of insurance policy with Nationwide. 

SBLI might offer the best of both worlds by providing an online application experience for death benefits up to $35,000. Mutual of Omaha only lets you apply for $25,000 online and with Nationwide, you can’t apply online at all. Just be aware that if your SBLI policy has a graded death benefit (not all SBLI policies do), it could be for up to three years.

State Farm is also an option if $10,000 is all the coverage you need and you don’t mind applying with an agent. State Farm has the added benefit of being the most financially stable company on this list. Whichever company you go with, make sure it has at least an A-level AM Best rating (A- or above). It’s a good idea to check customer complaints as well with the NAIC.

What Is Burial Insurance?

Burial insurance, also called senior life insurance, funeral insurance, and final expense insurance, is a small whole life policy designed to cover the immediate expenses your beneficiaries may face when you pass away. Like other whole life policies, burial insurance policies have a cash value and permanent death benefit (meaning coverage lasts your whole life, as long as you pay your premiums on time). 

Death benefits for burial insurance generally don’t exceed $50,000; in fact, $25,000 burial insurance policies are more common. Approval may be guaranteed regardless of any health issues, or you may need to answer a few health questions when you apply. A medical exam is not required in either case. 

For guaranteed-issue policies (those with guaranteed approval), the death benefit will usually be graded, or reduced, during the first two or three years of coverage, depending on the company. If you’re a healthy individual, it may be best to apply for a traditional whole life policy that requires a medical exam or has an accelerated underwriting process. This is because the premiums for final expense policies are designed for people who aren’t in good health, which means they’re more expensive.

What Is a Graded Death Benefit?

If your policy has a graded death benefit, it means that if you die of natural causes during the first two or three years, your beneficiaries will not receive the full death benefit amount. Instead, the premiums you paid will be returned to them, usually with an additional percentage, such as 10%, refunded. However, if you die as the result of an accident at any time, your beneficiaries receive the full death benefit amount.

Graded benefits are how life insurance companies can provide coverage to people with severe health problems who would ordinarily be rejected for life insurance. With any policy you apply for, it’s important to research whether there is a graded benefit period and how long it is. Some policies will limit the period to two years while with others it lasts for three. Also consider what percentage is returned on top of your premiums if you die naturally during the graded benefit period. Some companies offer 10%, while others offer less.

What Is Guaranteed-Issue Life Insurance?

Final expense policies are generally either guaranteed issue or simplified issue. These are two different underwriting processes that companies use to determine premiums and whether you’re approved for coverage. With guaranteed issue, there is virtually no underwriting involved, and coverage is guaranteed to be approved, but it’s also more expensive. You simply need to fall within the age group that’s eligible for the policy.

Simplified-issue policies are still very straightforward but do ask a few health questions. If you qualify for a simplified-issue policy, it may not have a graded benefit period, whereas guaranteed issue policies do. Some companies offer both types of coverage (e.g., Mutual of Omaha and SBLI), while others offer just one type of coverage (e.g. TruStage). 

If you have health problems and have been refused life insurance coverage in the past, a guaranteed-issue policy may be your only option. Just be aware that if you die of natural causes during the graded death benefit period, your beneficiaries will only receive the premiums you paid into the policy (plus a small percent) in lieu of the full death benefit.

How We Chose the Best Life Insurance Companies

In order to compile our list of the best burial insurance companies, we developed a comprehensive life insurance methodology. We started off by researching what consumers want from life insurance companies, and for that, we looked to third-party consumer studies, including J.D. Power’s 2021 U.S. Life Insurance New Business Study and the 2021 Insurance Barometer Study, by Life Happens and LIMRA.

With those findings in mind, we gathered more than 50 data points on 91 life insurance companies, including ratings for financial strength, customer satisfaction, and customer complaints, as well as information about years in business, online tools, no-exam options, dividends, maximum issue ages, and available riders. 

Our review process gave preference to companies with solid financials, an easy application process, and few customer complaints. Companies received ratings boosts for online resources, including an insurance needs calculator and educational information. We ranked each company according to the following categories and weights.

  • 35%: Financial stability 
  • 25%: Customer satisfaction
  • 25%: Ease of application
  • 15%: Online resources

To finalize our list, we compared individual offerings between top companies by considering third-party ratings and by delving deeper into product specifics, including death benefit amounts and graded benefit periods. We used this research to determine the best burial insurance companies.

Article Sources

Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
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  2. J.D. Power. “Pandemic and Tax Code Change Spur Interest in Life Insurance, J.D. Power Finds.”

  3. J.D. Power. "2021 US Life Insurance New Business Study | JD Power."

  4. Life Happens. "Life Insurance Is on People's Minds."