From 29th July 2022 any financial business that sells and provides funeral plans must be regulated with the Financial Conduct Authority ('FCA'), meaning that customers of funeral plan providers will then have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service ('FOS') to resolve complaints in relation to events that took place after that date. The FOS are an independent organisation who help to resolve disputes between consumers and companies who provide financial services. Customers will also be able to complain about events that took place before 29th July 2022 as long as the plan provider was a member of the Funeral Planning Authority (‘FPA’) at the time of the event they are complaining about and the customer has not previously made the same complaint to the FPA.
The FOS intends to provide more detail about its approach to handling complaints about funeral plans once regulation of the sector has started, but generally they will seek to put the customer back into the position they would have been if the problem had not occurred. This might mean paying compensation or changing something specific in relation to a customers plan.
A pre-paid funeral plan allows you to pay upfront or in instalments for a funeral. These plans may help to protect against rising funeral costs and help to relieve the financial burden on family members. They can also help loved ones with easing the decision making process at a very difficult time, as your preferences have already been taken into account.
The sale of funeral plans is currently an unregulated financial transaction, meaning that there is no requirement for anyone who sells or provides them to be regulated. However, it may be the case that some plan providers are regulated already if they are covered for other financial activities or for other products and services that they offer.
Any complaints against an unregulated funeral director or intermediary who has sold a funeral plan will not give access to the FOS. The FOS would only become involved after unsuccessfully trying to resolve the matter with the company first.
Common complaints with pre-paid funeral plans are with regard to the cost of the funeral not being covered in full by the plan, the cost of funeral extras not being covered, or that the funeral plan cost more than the funeral eventually cost. There have also been increasing complaints surrounding the effect of Coronovirus whereby it was sometimes impossible to deliver the full funeral that the deceased had paid or with regard to plans sold by telephone. Customers have complained that they were missold a product because they did not understand the terms that they were agreeing to, and/or that any repayment of fees following a cancellation of agreement within the cancellation period (usually 14 to 30 days) was not being paid.
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