Funeral Advantage

February 26th, 2014

Here’s an ad that runs constantly on television:

The TV spot shows text over a grey background with a female voiceover explaining the benefits of Funeral Advantage.

Here’s what Funeral Advantage really is: It’s a life insurance policy underwritten by Lincoln Heritage. The ad notes as much — sort of. It does so in the fine print for about 13 seconds of a 60-second commercial.

We have some more problems with this ad:

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We weren’t able to find the $9,000 claim on the FTC’s website. But Funeral Advantage’s $9,000 figure seems reasonable, at least, though maybe on the higher end. The National Funeral Director’s Association estimated the median funeral cost in 2012 as $7,045, plus the cost of a cemetery plot or cremation. The $9,000 claim is in the ballpark.

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This claim may be misleading. That $255 figure refers to the lump sum Social Security payment some spouses and children are eligible for. But if you die, your spouse, your children and in some cases even your parents are eligible to receive survivor benefits from Social Security. That $255 lump sum is far from a one-and-done deal.

Also, the Funeral Advantage commercial’s fine print directs you to socialsecurity.com for more information on the $255 claim, but socialsecurity.com is not a website. We think they mean socialsecurity.gov.

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“Pays up to $20,000″ is not the same as “pays $20,000,” so keep that in mind.

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The fine print is larger here, but we imagine some consumers might not understand Funeral Advantage is life insurance after seeing the whole ad. Virginia’s State Corporation Commission reviewed Lincoln Heritage’s marketing of Funeral Advantage in 2012, and found the company didn’t always make clear that it was a life insurance policy, that it claimed to payout faster than other insurance companies, and said it was “low cost.” According to the SCC report, Lincoln Heritage said it was going to discontinue parts of its advertising and modify other parts. But the result still seems like people could be misled.

Consumers worried about the cost of their funeral should understand that Funeral Advantage is a life insurance policy, and understand what they’re buying before handing over any money. The Funeral Advantage commercial doesn’t always make that clear.

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Sometimes termed “mouse print” or, more benignly, “disclosure language”, and presented in miniscule font. It is there to take back every enticing offer made in the ad.

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