Average Funeral Cost in 2021

A woman calculates the cost of her final expenses and future funeral costs as she considers final expense insurance

Like most everything else, funeral prices have increased with inflation. And while prices for funeral and burial services may vary depending on several factors, one common theme is that families are ill-equipped to bear the burden of those costs on their own. That’s where final expense insurance and other types of coverage comes in. 

Whether it’s for basic burial expenses or a more robust insurance policy to help pay off your mortgage, settle debt or provide a financial cushion, preparing to help safeguard your family from these final expenses is the best way to offer protection. Let’s explore some of the common factors that lead to this increase in funeral costs and final expenses.

How much does the average funeral cost?

According to current statistics from the National Funeral Directors Administration, the average costs for a funeral and associated services in North America have risen to between $7,000 to $10,000. Death, as it turns out, is expensive. Whether you’ve planned on a basic funeral with limited extravagance or a full service, you’ll find several costs associated with burial.1

Funeral Cost Breakdown

Before we get into the numbers, one thing to remember is that funeral prices vary between funeral homes and areas of the country. Common funeral fees include:

  • Funeral director’s services: $500
  • Casket costs: $2,300
  • Embalming services: $500
  • Funeral home fees during services: $500
  • Grave site: $1,000
  • Grave digging: $600
  • Grave liner or burial vault: $1,000
  • Headstone: $1,500

Note that these are rough estimates, and that more expensive options will drive costs up further.

Other Expenses to Consider

The above expenses aren’t the only items to pay for, though. Consider that placing obituaries in the local paper(s) can have an additional cost, especially if they’re more complex. This also doesn’t factor in the cost of buying flowers. Additionally, if your death is preceded by a lengthy stay in the hospital or other medical treatment, those bills will come due after you’ve passed away.

How to Plan Your Funeral

Planning ahead is often the best way to reduce the costs of your final expenses. For example, making decisions ahead of time about gravestones, cemetery plots or mausoleums and which services will be included can reduce the amount of stress your loved ones deal with as they make your funeral services arrangements. When you’re considering your final wishes, don’t forget to include the following decisions on an end of life checklist and ensure everything is documented in a legal document, such as a Last Will and Testament:

  • Organ donation preferences
  • Burial or cremation
  • Final wishes related to cremated remains
  • Cemetery placement (if required)
  • Other services to be rendered, such as clergy, organist, music, etc.
  • Type of casket to be used, if applicable

How to Save Money on Funeral Costs

There are a handful of ways to lower the cost of a funeral ceremony. You can opt out of a visitation, for example, or rent a casket from the funeral home if you still want one. Cremation can reduce the costs of burial and eliminate the need to buy a casket, headstone, grave and burial vault. 

In some cases, you can opt for a green burial, which includes burial plots, a shroud or environmentally friendly casket, and interment fees. Embalming is not involved in green burials, nor are the use of steel caskets.2

If you’re worried about paying for funeral arrangements, the best way to avoid passing those expenses onto your family is through life insurance. At SelectQuote, we’ll take the time to understand your situation and preferences to ensure you have the coverage you need to support your loved ones when you pass. 

Types of Life Insurance

Whether or not you plan on burial or cremation, a visitation or viewing, or other services from the funeral home or mortuary, you shouldn’t make your family foot the bill on their own. By proactively purchasing life insurance today, you can help protect them from one final financial burden. In addition to paying for your final expenses, the right insurance policy can financially safeguard their future well after you’re gone.

Final Expense Insurance

Final expense insurance is intended to cover end-of-life expenses, but can also be used for things like credit card debt, medical debt and other debt that may otherwise be passed along to your family. Final expense insurance can also be used as burial insurance to help cover for funeral expenses.

Final expense life insurance costs depend on your comfort level. Some policies provide coverage starting at $1,000, but can go up to $40,000. If you’re looking for a decent starting point, remember that funerals cost on average $10,000.

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance protects you for a specific term, or period of time. Term life insurance typically is available in lengths of 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 years. Term life insurance is also the most affordable way to purchase life insurance, often with a larger payable benefit than final expense insurance.

In addition to burial expenses, term life insurance can be used to provide a financial safety net for your loved ones. Many people consider the following when debating on term life insurance coverage:

  • Remaining mortgage balance
  • College costs
  • Current and future salary potential
  • Existing debt
  • Potential medical expenses

Term life insurance is a flexible way to help protect your loved ones that provides peace of mind and affordable fixed premiums for the length of the term. Do note, however, that term life insurance does not have a cash value. In addition, your premiums will likely increase at the conclusion of your term.

Whole Life Insurance

Unlike term life insurance, whole life insurance is permanent life insurance that does not expire. It provides a set amount of coverage for the rest of your life. Whole life insurance does offer lifetime coverage at a set premium, and it offers a cash value which you can borrow against.

Whole life insurance, however, is generally the most expensive option.  Because of this, it’s not a good value for people who are older or in poor health because of the more expensive premiums.

Save the Financial Burden from Loved Ones with Final Expense Insurance

When you’re considering how to help provide for your family in the aftermath of your death, life insurance should be one of your first priorities. At SelectQuote, we can help you save money by doing the hard work of comparison shopping for you. Whether you need final expense insurance or want something as robust and permanent as whole life insurance, we can compare rates and find a plan that works for you.


We do the shopping. You do the saving.