British preneed company being investigated for fraud


Trust is hard to earn. . . .and many times, harder to keep.


Any business that promises a service at a later date in return for a payment now comes under scrutiny by almost everyone.  However, most businesses that are conducted that way have a horde of government regulations that keep consumers safe.


Not until July 2022, however, did consumers in Great Britain have coverage on preneed funeral plans should the plans that they were registered with, and paid into, fail.  It was at that time that the country’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) begin to regulate pre-paid funeral plans according to this notice.


And now, we are finding out that one of those plans that seemed to flourish, but then collapsed, before the FCA Authority took effect is being investigated for suspected fraud from the country’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO).


According to this article from the BBC some 46,000 consumers paid into the company Safe Hands Plans to have their funeral wishes funded at a later date.


Again, according to that article, Nick Ephgrave, director of the SFO, said: “Thousands of individuals from all corners of the UK lost peace and security after being sold a product on the basis it would help reduce the burden on their loved ones upon their death.  Today, we have taken decisive next steps in our full criminal investigation into Safe Hands Plans.”


It is estimated that Safe Hands Plans has creditors seeking about US $85 million at this time.


Related Article —  “Funeral plan provider that collapsed last year leaving thousands with worthless arrangements is investigated by the Serious Fraud Office”.  Daily Mail (United Kingdom)


Funeral Director Daily take:  This story is a cautionary tale.  Safe Hands Plans is not the only preneed provider to not be able to fulfill the commitments that they had promised.  It happens maybe more than we think. . . we’ve had our share of problems with preneed providers over the years in the United States also.


It is a great reminder for those that own and manage death care facilities such as funeral homes and crematories that you really need to know the companies that you are in business with and, in many cases promoting to your future customers.  And, as a provider that is not always easy to do. . . .you are trained as funeral directors not forensic accountants.


That’s why state insurance commissions are really important.  You don’t want any company to be licensed in your state that can not pass the muster and regulations that insurance commissions put forward.   Most of the rules are all about being able to financially fulfill the commitment to the consumer, and in some cases to the funeral home, that was given when the premium was collected.


For the sake of your business make sure that you have done all the due diligence that you can before you partner with a preneed provider.


More news from the world of Death Care:

Japan takes funerals into the metaverse for convenience.  DW – German News Service

Do Bradford-O’Keefe Fuenral Home and the Loewen Group still exist?  The Cinemaholic

Historic Topeka cemetery to hold annual “Ghost tours”.  Video story and print article.  WIBW TV Topeka (KS)

Fire in animal cremation business affects multiple businesses.  WINK TV – Fort Myers (FL)


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