Facts about Caskets
A casket often is the single most expensive item you'll
buy if you plan a "traditional," full-service funeral. Caskets vary widely
in style and price and are sold primarily for their visual appeal. Typically,
they're constructed of metal, wood, fiberboard, fiberglass, or plastic.
Average casket costs can vary in price with some mahogany,
bronze, or copper caskets selling for as much as £7000. Casket material
type (copper vs 18 gauge or mahogany vs pine), interior fabric (velvet
vs crepe), and intricacy of design (handles vs no handles or plain hardware
vs ornate hardware) can all factor into the total cost of the casket.
When you visit a funeral home or showroom to look for a
casket, the Funeral Rule requires the funeral director to show you a list
of caskets the company sells, with descriptions and prices, before showing
you the caskets. Industry studies show that the average casket shopper
buys one of the first three models shown, generally the middle-priced
of the three.
In the selection room, you can expect to see a funeral home's
most popular caskets. If you don't see a casket on the floor in your price
range or style, don't be afraid to ask the funeral director about other
selections. They are there to help you find a casket that best meets your
family's needsboth emotional and financial.
You should know that some funeral homes are giving consumers
a new tool to view and consider casketsAurora Casket Company's Family
Advisor software. Family Advisor, a preneed and at-need funeral arrangement
software for funeral homes, allows clients to make funeral arrangements
at a keyboard instead of a funeral homeit's a virtual selection
Many families find this more acceptable than going through
a roomful of caskets to make a selection. They can view closeups of the
casket interior panel, hardware and corner detail. A first in the funeral
industry, the Advisor utilizes a keyboard and a 36-inch color computer
monitor, where caskets and other related products are viewed and then
casket selection and arrangements made. Observes one consumer, "Why haven't
funeral homes done this sooner so we don't have to go and look at caskets?"
It's important to remember that the casket's purpose is
to provide a dignified way to move the body before burial or cremation.
No casket, regardless of its qualities or cost, will preserve a body forever.
Metal caskets frequently are described as "gasketed," "protective,"
or "sealer" caskets. These terms mean that the casket has a rubber gasket
or some other feature that is designed to delay the penetration of water
into the casket and prevent rust. The Funeral Rule forbids claims that
these features help preserve the remains indefinitely because they don't.
Most metal caskets are made from rolled steel of varying
gaugesthe lower the gauge, the thicker the steel. Some metal caskets
come with a warranty for longevity. Wood caskets generally are not gasketed
and don't have a warranty for longevity.
They can be hardwood like mahogany, walnut, cherry, or oak,
or softwood like pine. Like fine furniture, higher end woods such as mahogany
will be more expensive than a softwood such as pine. Manufacturers of
both wood and metal caskets usually warrant workmanship and materials.
Caskets for Cremation
Families that opt to have their loved ones cremated sometimes
rent a casket from the funeral home for the visitation and funeral, eliminating
the cost of buying a casket. If you opt for visitation and cremation,
ask about the rental option. Be aware that your casket options may be
very limited with a rental casket. Discuss financial concerns with your
funeral director. It's possible that you can purchase a simple but new
casket for the same or less price than a rental casket.
For those who choose a direct cremation without a viewing
or other ceremony where the body is present, the funeral provider can
offer an inexpensive unfinished wood box or alternative container, a non-metal
enclosurepressboard, cardboard, or canvasthat is cremated
with the body.