How Much Does a Funeral Cost Without Insurance?

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When mourning a loved one's passing, the last concern anyone wants to grapple with is financial hardship. However, a traditional full service burial in the United States averages $8,555 and if you don’t make financial arrangements beforehand, you may leave your loved ones scrambling for a way to make ends meet for your funeral.

Keep reading to learn more about how much a funeral costs and how buying life insurance or burial insurance can serve your end-of-life financial planning needs.

Key Takeaways

  • It costs $8,555 on average for a traditional full service burial or $6,220 for a full service cremation.
  • Even if you forgo the full service or opt for a direct cremation to save money, the average cost of a funeral can still cost thousands of dollars.
  • Life insurance or final expense insurance can issue a death benefit to your beneficiary after you die, which can be used to pay for funeral expenses.
  • Without insurance, you will have to cover the costs entirely out of pocket.

Does Insurance Cover the Costs of a Funeral?

You can buy final expense insurance, which specifically covers the cost of funeral expenses such as the viewing, service and burial or cremation costs. Life insurance is another consideration that offers greater flexibility since you can use the death benefit to pay for expenses other than the funeral fees such as mortgage payments or daily living expenses.

In addition, you may have funeral coverage if your auto insurance policy includes personal injury protection (PIP) and you’ve died in a car accident. PIP is legally required in certain states and it can pay for medical bills, lost wages and funeral fees resulting from a car accident.[1]

Keep in mind that while health insurance and Medicare can cover medical costs while you are living, it will generally not pay toward funeral expenses after you die.[2]

How Much Does an Average Funeral Cost?

The average cost is $8,555 for a traditional full service burial but can lower to around $5,114 if you do not embalm the body and do not hold a viewing. Cremation is relatively cheaper, with it costing $6,220 for a full service cremation or just $2,185 for a direct cremation, which does not include the urn to contain the ashes or costs related to holding a public viewing of the body before it is cremated.[3]

Below, we've itemized the average costs of some expenses that typically go into a funeral.[3]


Cost Breakdown for Traditional Full Service Burial

Full Service Cremation

Median-Priced Casket or Cremation Casket



Basic Services












Crematory Fee



Transfer to Funeral Home



Transfer to Crematory






Dressing & Casketing



Utility Vehicle






How Much Does a Funeral Cost Without Insurance?

If you don’t have any insurance, then you must pay for the cost of a funeral completely out of pocket, which is $8,555 for a traditional full service burial on average or $6,220 for full service cremation.[3]

Average Funeral Costs by State

Depending on where you live, the average cost can range from $7,483 to $9,634 for a full service burial or $5,099 to $7,459 for a full service cremation.[3]


Average Cost of Full Service Burial

Full Service Cremation





















































































New Hampshire



New Jersey



New Mexico



New York



North Carolina



North Dakota















Rhode Island



South Carolina



South Dakota





















Washington D.C.



West Virginia









How Do I Prepare for Funeral Expenses?

There are several ways to plan for funeral expenses, such as buying life insurance early on, creating a payable-on-death account and more.

Consider a Life Insurance Policy

Life insurance is one of the insurance products that comes to mind when it comes to paying for the costs of a funeral. After the insured dies, the beneficiary will receive a death benefit, which can be used to pay for funeral expenses. The benefit of a life insurance payout is that it is received tax-free and bypasses the probate court so if you’re a parent and your adult child is the beneficiary, they can receive the funds directly.

Individuals can buy term life insurance with coverage lasting up to 30 years or permanent life insurance with coverage lasting until you die.[4]

Final Expense Insurance

Final expense insurance is another type of life insurance that can pay for funeral fees. The key difference between final expense insurance and life insurance in general is that final expense insurance covers only funeral-specific costs (e.g., caskets, cemetery plots, memorial services), whereas a life insurance death benefit has no such restrictions and can be used to pay toward groceries, mortgage payments and more.

As a result, coverage limits are often lower for funeral expenses insurance. The average coverage amount for life insurance was $183,780 in 2020.[5] Meanwhile, consumers generally purchase $10,000 to $20,000 of coverage on average when it comes to final expense insurance. Naturally, with higher coverage limits, the cost of life insurance goes up.

Additional Ways To Pay for the Cost of a Funeral

There may be other ways to pay for the of a funeral besides buying insurance, such as:

  • Opening a payable on death (POD) account: Unlike a regular savings account that can pass to your heirs after you die, the funds in a payable on death account are not subject to probate, offering a streamlined and efficient way to ensure your loved ones receive financial support promptly.[6]
  • Leaning on government assistance programs: There may be government programs that can help cover the cost of burial expenses. For example, the Department of Veteran Affairs can cover funeral fees up to $300 for a non-service-connected death or up to $2,000 for a service-connected death.[7]
  • Leveraging crowdfunding platforms: Platforms like GoFundMe allow individuals to create fundraising campaigns for memorial services. Instead of getting a lump sum payment from a single source, smaller donations from several people can add up and help you cover the cost of a funeral.

How To Keep Funeral Costs Low

Funeral expenses can be a significant financial burden but there are several strategies to help keep costs manageable. First, consider opting for cremation over a traditional burial. Cremation tends to be more cost-effective as it eliminates the need for a burial plot, casket and some other burial-related expenses.

Another way to reduce costs is by choosing a simple casket or urn rather than an elaborate one. Funeral homes often offer a range of options and selecting a more basic container can result in substantial savings. The funeral rule legally prohibits a funeral provider from refusing to serve somebody who purchased a cheaper casket elsewhere.[8] Additionally, consider holding the memorial service at home, a community center or a place of worship instead of a funeral home, which may charge additional fees for their facilities.

If you decide to buy life insurance, make sure you shop around and compare quotes from at least three to five carriers to ensure you’re getting the best price available. Alternatively, you can use an insurance marketplace like SmartFinancial. After completing a single questionnaire, we’ll match you with an insurance agent who will find the right life insurance policy based on your age, coverage needs and budget. Get started on your free life insurance quote today!

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What parts of a funeral does insurance cover?

Life insurance or final expense insurance can cover several funeral-related expenses, including the cost of the casket or urn, funeral service fees and burial or cremation costs.

What does the average cremation cost?

On average, a full service cremation costs $6,220 and a direct cremation with no public viewing costs $2,185.[3]

What is the cheapest funeral option?

The cheapest funeral option is often cremation, which eliminates the need for a traditional burial plot, casket and associated expenses, making it a more cost-effective choice compared to traditional burials.

How much does it cost to bury someone?

A full service burial can cost $8,555 but you can lower the cost to around $5,114 if you do not embalm the body and do not hold a viewing.[3]


  1. Nationwide. “Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance.” Accessed Jan. 22, 2024.
  2. Humana. “Does Medicare Pay for Final Expenses and Funerals?” Accessed Jan. 22, 2024.
  3. Funeralocity. “Average Funeral Cost in the U.S.” Accessed Jan. 22, 2024.
  4. Guardian Life. “How Term Life Insurance Works: The Basics.” Accessed Jan. 22, 2024.
  5. The American Council of Life Insurance. “Life Insurance,” Page 89. Accessed Jan. 22, 2024.
  6. Nolo. “Payable-on-Death (POD) Accounts: The Basics.” Accessed Jan. 22, 2024.
  7. Dept. of Veteran Affairs. “Burial Benefits.” Accessed Jan. 22, 2024.
  8. Federal Trade Commission. “Funeral Rule.” Accessed Jan. 22, 2024.

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