California Burial Insurance: 10 Valuable Questions Answered

Jake Irving

Jake Irving is the Founder of Policy and has contributed to articles for Synchrony Financial, GoBankingRates, Yahoo News, UpCity, Zapier, LegalZoom, and more.

Read Full Bio>>

Some of the products featured on this page may be from our partners who compensate us. This might influence which insurance products we review, write about, and the companies placement on the page. 

However, Policy has a core mission to demand transparency from the insurance industry, and we expect our readers to demand the same from us.

This is why we disclose the following:

How we Make Money>> 

Our Partners>>

Editorial Guidelines>> 

The Golden State has so much to offer, from the beautiful beaches and big cities to Lake Tahoe and everywhere in between. This state is truly miraculous.

It is easy for Californians to forget the costs associated with final expenses. Typically families are not prepared for the shocking price tag that comes with honoring the life of a loved one.

Funeral expenses can range over a wide variety of price points depending on many factors. Fortunately, senior funeral insurance can solve this financial predicament.

10 Valuable Questions Answered About California Funeral Insurance

1. What is California Funeral Insurance?

Funeral insurance, also known as final expense and burial insurance, is a type of whole life insurance with four key benefits.

Price Lock: The price will never increase, which is critical for any seniors on a fixed income. When budgeting for your monthly expenses, it is a top priority to know the costs down to the penny to ensure you don’t run out of funds. This product gives much-needed financial clarity.

Coverage Lock: The coverage amount will never decrease or expire. When purchasing funeral plans designed for final expenses, the product must be active for the family members left behind.

Builds Cash Value: A portion of each payment will go towards the cash value. Over time this account will grow, and the policyholder will have the opportunity to borrow from it.

Fast Payout Process: When someone passes away, things move quickly, and funds are needed as soon as possible. This product is designed to get the beneficiary the financial resources necessary in a matter of days rather than weeks or months.

2. What can the Beneficiary use the Financial Distribution for?

When asking what final expense insurance covers, there is extreme flexibility with what items can be purchased.

  • Funeral Arrangments
  • Cremation
  • Memorial/Celebration of Life
  • Fees from Funeral Homes
  • Casket
  • Burial Expense
  • Embalming
  • Credit Cards
  • Legal Expenses
  • Medical Bills
  • Leaving an Inheritance
  • Remaining Balance on a Mortgage
  • Post-Mortem Expenses
  • Charity Donations
  • Remaining Car Loan Balances
  • Other End-of-Life Expenses

3. What is the Oldest Age that Coverage can be Issued?

Most California insurance providers will award initial coverage until 80 or 85. However, a select few companies will sign off on funeral insurance coverage up until 90 years old.

This section is speaking on the initial application age only. Once you receive your coverage, it will never expire.

4. What is the Cost of California Final Expense Insurance?

Final expense insurance is an affordable life insurance option for seniors because of the small coverage amounts—the lower the death benefit, the lower the monthly premium.

Traditional whole life insurance policies typically range from $50,000 to millions of dollars in coverage. Burial insurance comes in smaller amounts, around $2,000 – $40,000 depending on the provider, drastically lowering the cost.

California Monthly Premiums

$10,000 Death Benefit

Non-Smoking Quotes

Age Female Male
$23 - $34
$27 - $47
$24 - $39
$31 - $56
$28 - $47
$36 - $61
$33 - $54
$44 - $68
$41 - $66
$56 - $91
$53 - $80
$75 - $106
$72 - $116
$100 - $150
$98 - $190
$140 - $232
$136 - $220
$193 - $312

5. How is the Price Determined?

Other than the amount of coverage, three main factors determine the final expense life insurance price.

Age: As stated earlier, the price does not increase over time, but the longer you wait before securing a policy, the higher the price. Someone who is 76 years old will pay less than someone who is 77 years old. Do not wait to lock in your price.

Gender: Gender will impact your price point as well. Males will pay more for coverage than females for a few different reasons, but the most prevalent is that women live four years longer than men on average.

Heath: Your medical history significantly affects the price you will pay for burial insurance. This is because the more complications a senior has had with their health, the more risk the carrier considers them. The insurer combats this risk by raising the price or placing the applicant in plans with a waiting period.

Tobacco use also plays into the cost. Most carriers have a separate price for burial insurance for smokers.

6. What is a Waiting Period?

The carrier places this time restriction on higher-risk cases before paying out the full coverage upon death. Waiting periods are usually two years from the day the policy was issued.

How it works: If the insured passes away before the waiting period ends, the beneficiary will receive a predetermined portion of the coverage amount. If the insured passes away after the waiting period has ended, the beneficiary will receive the full death benefit.

Work with an independent agent to qualify for burial insurance with no waiting period.

7. Can I Purchase a Final Expense Insurance Policy for Someone in CA?

You can purchase life insurance for a loved one, but there are a few rules you need to follow. The insured must be involved in the process by agreeing to coverage.

There also needs to be “insurable interest”; this automatically exists if you purchase for a parent. However, you cannot take out a final expense insurance policy on someone without their permission.

8. How can I Buy Burial Insurance in California?

Luckily, most insurance companies operate in California, allowing for two ways to purchase coverage.

Directly from Company: The underwriting standards for health and age differ depending on what company you call. For example, one carrier will approve coverage for an applicant with a specific medical condition, but another company will deny coverage to this same individual. In addition, prices can vary drastically depending on which company you call.

Companies like Lincoln Heritage, State Farm, or Colonial Penn advertise heavily and make it sound like their products are the best for every senior, but how do you know unless you compare?

Insurance Agency: Life insurance agencies are not tied to specific life insurance policies. Flexibility in plans means they can present several options for seniors who have experienced medical complications or various budgets.

Working with a specialized insurance agency gives you more coverage options, usually at a lower cost.

9. What is the California Final Expense Program?

Any mail discussing the “California Final Expense Program” or “state regulated life insurance” is simply an advertisement. This mail is sent out in mass by life insurance agents looking for seniors interested in their products. Frequently, if you reply, they will arrive at your home in an attempt to sell you a policy.

All life insurance is state-regulated, so any advertisement using this language is a slick way to market to potential consumers.

10. How do I get a Burial Insurance Quote in California?

The best way to receive funeral insurance quotes online is by using the instant price tool on this page to show you the companies available in CA and the pricing.

What Is The Best Funeral Insurance For Californians?

Every insurance company has different underwriting standards. This means the top company for you could be entirely different from the best company for your spouse. Understanding the underwriting process will help you make an informed purchasing decision.


There are four plan tiers in the final expense insurance underwriting process.

Level: This is the top product on the market with immediate coverage and the lowest premium rates. To earn approval for this plan, you must be in good health with no recent medical events. Most seniors qualify for this plan.

Graded & Modified: A two-year waiting period is implemented with these plans. If the insured were to pass away during the waiting period, a portion of the coverage amount would be paid to the beneficiary. The entire amount is awarded if death occurs after the waiting period has concluded.

Guaranteed Issue: This plan asks no health questions and approves nearly every senior who applies for guaranteed insurance to cover burials. This type of policy should be reserved for those with chronic medical conditions.

How to Find the Best California Burial Insurance Companies

Fortunately, most companies are licensed in California, which gives you many options when shopping for coverage. When deciding what burial insurance company is best for you, there are three key things to consider.

Low Cost: Every company has different price points. It is best to work with an insurance agency with access to many policy options.

Immediate Coverage: Though it is not always possible due to previous medical histories, finding day one coverage will protect your family sooner and get you a lower monthly premium.

High Financial Rating: Every insurance provider has a financial rating. Always look for a B+ or better. This will show that the carrier is financially stable and will be assured to honor their financial commitment to your family.

California Funeral Cost, Statistics, & Regulations

Where you live in California will dictate how much you can expect the average funeral cost to be. For example, the price in Orange County, CA, will differ from other parts of the state.

The average burial service in California is $7,279, while the average cost of cremation is $6,011.

Many states allow burial on private land, but the California Burial Law states that bodies must be buried in established cemeteries. There are, however, some exceptions based on local code in rural areas.

Location Traditional Cremation
Los Angeles
Palm Springs
San Diego
San Jose
State Average

Not included in these price estimates:

  • Cost of Headstone, Monument, or Marker
  • Cemetery Property, Plot of Land, Columbarium, etc.

California Cremation Legalities & Statistics

In 2020 Californians choose to be cremated over 70% of the time. Projections for 2030 show that the creation rate should rise to 83%.

California cremation laws are some of the strictest in the country, with particular limitations on the placement of remains. Californians have the following options per the Consumer Guide to Funeral and Cemetery Purchases.

  • Placement in a columbarium or mausoleum
  • Burial in a plot in a cemetery
  • Retention at a residence (permit required)
  • Storing in a house of worship, if allowed by local zoning laws
  • Scattering in areas where no local prohibition exists (written permission required)
  • Scattering in a designated scattering garden
  • Scattering at sea, at a minimum of 500 yards from shore

Lifespan of Californians

The average age upon death in the state is 80.9. California is in the top five when compared to the national average lifespan of 78.8

Causes of Death for California Residents

Listed below are the top 10 leading causes of death in California, according to the CDC.

  1. Heart Disease
  2. Cancer
  3. Covid-19
  4. Alzheimer’s
  5. Accidents
  6. Stroke
  7. Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease
  8. Diabetes
  9. Chronic Liver Disease/Cirrhosis
  10. Hypertension

Final Thoughts

a. California funeral insurance policies are great options for leaving a financial legacy and caring for your loved ones.

b. No one knows when their health will start to decline, so being proactive and creating a plan as soon as possible is a great idea.

c. There are both affordable and attainable plan options for everyone. Work with an independent agency to find the best plan for your specific medical history and budget guidelines.