The History of Preneed Funeral Planning
Preneed planning is nothing new. Throughout history, people have planned and prepared for death. In Roman times, nearly 2,000 years ago, burial clubs held monthly meetings and collected dues to pay for members' funerals.
In the Middle Ages, guilds, crafts organizations, and fraternal groups collected funds in advance to pay for members' final expenses. Since ancient times, people have seen the importance of planning for the expense of a funeral honoring a dear friend's memory.
By the mid-19th century, London, England hosted over 200 burial societies--clubs that spread the cost of burial among members. With low selectivity, high rates, and weekly premiums, these clubs were the forerunners of modern industrial insurance.
In the early 1800s, some clergy in the United States banded together for the same purpose. They founded "death insurance," which became today's life insurance.
For many years, funeral directors did not sponsor these plans. In fact, most funeral directors felt their profession shouldn't be involved. However, after World War I, some funeral directors in parts of the United States started offering "burial insurance."
Many other plans followed, such as mutual benefit associations, funeral certificate plans, funeral debentures, funeral trusts, funeral savings accounts, and legal reserve funeral insurance. Benefits could be any combination of cash, credits, merchandise, and service.
Today, many funeral directors, cemeteries, and other providers develop and market preneed plans. These plans fill a need which people have felt for centuries.