According to the Sun Life Direct Cost of Dying Survey 2013, funeral costs have risen by 80 per cent since 2004 at a pace far quicker than the general rate of inflation.
Mr Corish says: “If this trend continues, the average cost of a funeral will be £6,220 by 2022.
“In addition to these clear financial benefits, funeral plans also offer the plan holder peace of mind that everything has been taken care of. Making funeral arrangements in advance relieves the family of worry and uncertainty about the kind of send-off the plan holder would have wanted at what is typically a distressing time.”
According to Funeral Planning Authority statistics, more than 135,000 funeral plans were taken out last year by registered providers, representing a 12 per cent increase on the previous year.
Mr Corish says: “These figures demonstrate the growing popularity of pre-paid funeral plans.”
Another product available, which falls outside the traditional product range, are health cash plans.
According to Philip Wood, executive director for sales and marketing at Health Shield, these policies appeal to consumers who wish to have the option to claim back the cost of everyday health treatments, such as eye tests, dental treatment or physiotherapy.
Health cash plans provide cash back towards NHS healthcare costs and most policies don’t require a medical to join, Mr Wood adds.
According to Laing and Buisson, health cash plans covered an estimated 3,731,000 people throughout the UK at the end of 2012, equivalent to an estimated 5.9 per cent of the UK population.
He says: “They are increasingly popular among employers who want to offer a comprehensive benefits package to their employees.”
However, he warns that a health cash plan should be bought alongside the ‘suite’ of standard protection products, not as an alternative, as it will not replace your salary if you are too ill to work.
The future ‘pick and mix’
Mr Devine has seen membership to the Protect Association expand over the years and the product mix change.
Going forward, he envisages a “pick and mix” of protection products where customers can choose what suits them and their lifestyles.
He says: “It will no doubt continue to do so even faster in the future, as technology provides other opportunities to both new and existing players.
“There are many products sold as both stand alone or as add-ons to other products. There are niche sectors, such as the over 50s.
“I think there will continue to be more modular type products that can be sold as part of a menu of protection products rather than having all singing, all dancing comprehensive products that only the very privileged few can afford to pay for.”