If you are considering life insurance to cover a funeral, estimate the expected cost.

The national median cost for a funeral with a viewing was $7,360 in 2017, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. However, this price doesn't include a vault, which may be required by the cemetery. If a vault is included, the median cost rises to $8,508. These do not include common expenses such as a monument or markers, flowers or an obituary.

 

Cost of burial vs. cremation

 

Here are some of the most common costs, which will vary depending on the type of funeral chosen.

Median funeral cost breakdown

Type of cost Median price Description
Casket $2,400 Based on the median price for a metal casket; costs of other materials will vary
Non-declinable basic services fee $2,100 Covers the funeral homes' time, expertise and overhead
Cremation casket $1,000 The body is placed in a fully combustible container; it cannot have any metal parts
Embalming $725 Rarely required by law, but may be mandatory at your funeral home
Use of facilities/staff for funeral ceremony $500 If the ceremony takes place at the funeral home, expect to incur this cost
Use of facilities/staff for viewing $425 If the viewing takes place at the funeral home, expect to incur this cost
Cremation fee $350 If the funeral home uses a third-party crematory
Transfer of remains $325 Removal/transfer of remains to the funeral home
Funeral transportation: Hearse

Service car/van

$325

$150

Transportation from the funeral home to the burial site
Urn $275 Container to hold the cremated remains
Other preparation of the body $250 May include cosmetology, dressing and grooming
Memorial printed package $160 Printed and memorial guest books
Source: National Funeral Directors Association, 2017 median costs

Your own costs will vary depending on location and the funeral home. In fact, costs can vary significantly in the same town, as much as $2,580 to $13,800, according to a 2015 study by the Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA) and the Consumer Federation of America (CFA). They found that only 25 percent of funeral homes fully disclose prices on their websites.

More: Burial insurance: Costs and choices

Tips to save on funeral costs

  • Get price information over the phone. Under the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) Funeral Rule, funeral directors must give you the price information over the telephone if you ask for it. You do not need to give them your name, number or address. Here's a funeral costs and pricing checklist from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
  • Compare costs. By comparing prices among funeral homes and other service providers, you may be able to save. Funeral homes are often not forthcoming in their costs. Prices for similar services can vary by a lot, according to a 2017 investigation by NPR. For example, they found a funeral home that charged nearly twice the amount of another funeral home for a cremation done at the same offsite facility.
  • Only buy the funeral arrangements you want. Under the federal Funeral Rule, you have the right to buy goods and services separately, such as a casket, embalming and memorial service. You don't have to accept a package that has services you don't want or need.
  • Buy a casket or urn from a third party. Ask the funeral home to see the written casket price list before seeing the caskets. The FTC's Funeral Rule requires a funeral home to show you these prices. Funeral homes might not display all of the caskets or urns they sell and they often won't display the lower priced models. You may be able to save by buying a casket or urn from a third party. The Funeral Rule prohibits a funeral director from refusing to handle a casket or urn bought elsewhere or charge you a fee to handle it.
  • You may not have to purchase a casket. If you're planning on having a cremation or want to use a less expensive casket for the burial, but would like to have a different casket for the viewing, you may be able to rent a casket from the funeral home. Some people also prefer this option as a more environmentally friendly approach as opposed to a traditional casket, which is used only once.
  • Ask a friend or family member for help negotiating. A trusted ally may be able to speak and negotiate on your behalf during a difficult and time-sensitive situation.