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    What the Heck is a Funeral Concierge?

    Have you ever gone to the Concierge Desk in the nice hotel in which you are staying to get tickets (at a good price) to a theatrical event or reservations at a hard-to-get-reservations restaurant? It is usually a fairly pleasant experience—you still pay the main provider, but typically you’re paying a good, negotiated price. Additionally, the hotel concierge can answer most any and all of your questions about the new adventure you are about to embark upon in the city you are visiting.

    Well, a Funeral Concierge acts in a very similar manner. They can provide consumers help within three main time frames: Pre-planning, impending need, or immediate need. Their purpose is to provide consumers with the information you need (including that which you may not know you need) to make knowledgeable decisions in all end-of-life events and enable you to ensure that wishes and decisions are carried out. Interestingly, too, is that most funeral concierges have a nursing background so they are familiar with medical conditions as well as end of life issues.

    When there is an impending death of a family member, a funeral concierge can answer all of their questions about what will be happening in the short term, what they can expect and what they need to do. Having a knowledgeable, unbiased, and empathetic go-to source is invaluable.

    Preplanning is just that; an individual lays out all of their wishes for their funeral—or lack thereof! If your account holder or their family member just hates gladiolas and wants to make sure they are nowhere to be seen at their funeral, they can create a “My Wishes” planning guide. If they hate the poem that was read at their Aunt’s service, they can put what they want read in their “My Wishes” guide, too!

    At the time of death, a concierge can communicate the wishes of the family to the funeral home and negotiate prices and contracts for them at the funeral home of their choice. Yes, funeral homes are for-profit businesses and have a way of convincing your customers that their new chinchilla-lined, mahogany coffin is exactly what their family member wanted—after all, this isn’t the time people are really thinking about budgets, and funeral homes can take advantage of the situation.

    Interestingly, funeral homes are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and must file their explicit costs each and every month with the FTC. A good concierge service aggregates these rates and can thus negotiate prices for your customers on a very knowledgeable basis, often saving their family a considerable amount of money while not placing the family in the awkward position of trying to negotiate with the funeral home. Most importantly, all of this work is done very expeditiously. A funeral concierge works on the consumer's behalf 24/7—they are there when they are needed most!

    I am a strong believer that financial institutions benefit from educating their account holders and borrowers on sound financial principles. It's true Financially Literate Customers are your Greatest Assets. In addition to financial basics like budgeting, retirement planning, and wealth management, it's equally important that they be educated on the importance of getting their affairs in order should they ever become incapacitated or pass away. Utilizing a funeral concierge is a service that your borrowers may not be aware of, but that could benefit them greatly.

    SWBC is pleased to offer funeral concierge services with all of our payment protection programs. We believe it is an invaluable service for our clients and hope you do, too!

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    Joan Cleveland, CLU, ChFC, REBC

    Joan Cleveland, CLU, ChFC, REBC leads SWBC Life Insurance Company as President and CEO. With more than 30 years of experience in the life insurance industry. She holds her Agent licenses for Life, Accident, Health Insurance, and has multiple FINRA securities Licenses. Joan is a frequent industry speaker and media spokesperson. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Consumer Credit Insurance Association, the Texas Association of Life and Health Insurers, as well as the Life Insurers Council. In addition, she is chair of LIMRA’s Strategic Marketing Issues Committee.

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