Consumer Protection

How to Protect Yourself: Caskets and Burial Vaults

Source: The Florida Attorney General's Office

When a loved one dies, quick and often costly decisions about memorial services have to be made. These decisions, frequently made under great emotional distress, can sometimes result in circumstances which are not in your best interest. Before making any decisions, you may want to speak to a friend or a member of the clergy who may be able to help you to objectively evaluate the services available. Before entering into a contract for memorial services, consider these tips:

What should I consider when choosing a casket?

Generally sold for their visual appeal, caskets can be made of metal, wood, fiberglass or plastic and can vary extensively in price and style. A casket or coffin is often the most expensive funeral item you will purchase, but is not required for a direct cremation or immediate burial.

Why are burial vaults and grave liners necessary?

Cemeteries often require a burial vault or a grave liner to enclose the casket in a grave. The vault or liner is used to prevent the ground from caving in as the casket deteriorates. Burial vaults are considerably more expensive than liners.

What are the benefits of pre-planning a funeral?

You may choose to prearrange a funeral instead of waiting until a later date. If so, make sure to inquire about all types of merchandise and services available to you. Also, scrutinize any claims made by the manufacturers of funeral products and ask for substantiation. Pre-planning allows you to consider all of the options carefully without the pressure of having to make decisions quickly.

What information must the sales staff disclose?

Funeral directors and cemeteries are required to provide you with detailed retail price information over the phone, if requested. This will assist you in comparing prices. In addition, prior to the selection of any merchandise, you are entitled to a detailed written itemization of the retail prices for all items regularly offered for sale. Also, be sure to obtain a written agreement/contract, for your retention, upon your final selection of funeral and burial merchandise and services. Make sure that you are clearly advised of your cancellation and refund rights.

What claims can sales staff make about casket durability?

The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Funeral Rule prohibits funeral providers from making false or deceptive durability claims. Insupportable claims regarding a product’s ability to resist water, dirt or other gravesite substances are also prohibited.

Who regulates cemeteries and funeral homes in Florida?

The Florida Department of Financial Services Division of Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services regulates cemeteries and cemetery companies, pursuant to Chapter 497, Florida Statutes. To determine whether a funeral home or cemetery is licensed, contact the Division toll-free at (800)-323-2627.

Where can I find additional information?

If the company is out-of-state, you may wish to call the appropriate agencies and authorities in the state where the company maintains its headquarters. The International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association (ICCFA) offers a wealth of resources for consumers, including informal mediation services in resolving disagreements about funeral service contracts. For more information or to access ICCFA mediation services, visit or call toll-free at 1-800-645-7700.

To learn more about the FTC’s Funeral Rule or to find the FTC’s guide to funeral planning, visit

File a complaint.

To file a complaint against a cemetery or funeral home, contact the Florida Department of Financial Services Division of Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services toll-free at (800)-323-2627. Additionally, you may file a complaint with the Florida Attorney General’s Office online at or by phone at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM. You may also wish to file a complaint about the company with the FTC at and the Better Business Bureau at