When considering taking out a new insurance policy most of us will head online to a price comparison site to find the best deal. But back in the 1920s it was common practice for insurance salesmen to go door to door selling what were known as ‘penny policies’. The name is pretty self-explanatory as the premiums on these policies were usually just a penny every week or month. This might sound like an amazing deal, but with many families living on low wages and with concerns that there may not be enough money to make a one-off funeral payment when the time came it was a sensible decision.
Sold in large numbers between the 1920s and 1960s, though dating back to the 19th century, penny policies were a type of insurance policy taken out to specifically cover a person’s funeral costs. Many parents of low income families began paying into these for their children as soon as they were born and it turns out that millions of such policies have never been claimed.
Understandably these policies were all paper based and are not easy to trace for the insurance companies. Many children and grandchildren of policy holders are now discovering these dusty papers in lofts and storage boxes, causing some confusion when it comes to calculating how much they are worth.
The Independent reported on one such case back in 1998, when insurer Pearl received a claim for a policy that began in 1893. A Pearl spokesman said: "This is typical of many claims we receive today. Young people find these ancient-looking policy documents when their parents or grandparents die, and they don't know what they are, or what they could be worth. Because the premium was so tiny, they often think they are worthless, when there can be quite significant values attached to them."
And The Sun reports that as recently as 2018 there were still an estimated 1.1million forgotten penny policies still waiting to be claimed, each with a value of up to £500. LV=, formally Liverpool Victoria, put out an appeal last year to find the owners of these policies: “no premiums have been collected on these policies for many years. This can mean that sometimes we can lose touch, particularly where our member has moved house, or even died, and we hadn’t been told. Even when our member hasn’t moved house, sometimes the penny policies were collected in groups and full details weren’t held, so this may still be the case” said Managing Director at the time John Perks.
“As a mutual, LV= values are of shared ownership, community and doing the right thing. So we want to take this opportunity to reach out and try to reconnect with lost members or their families and reunite them with their lost policies. If they were there in our past they’re just as important to our future too.”
So check if you or a family member have an old policy tucked away in a drawer or filing cabinet. If you have do get in touch with your insurer to find out if it is still valid.
If it is, you may wish to put the money in the policy towards a modern-day funeral plan.
Funeral plans designed for today’s customers’ needs
With living costs on the rise and the average price of a funeral in the UK currently at £4,056 according to the Sun Life Cost of Dying Report 2022, perhaps a return to the idea of a penny policy is what we need? Of course, with inflation the premiums would be higher than a penny in today's money but the idea of saving a small amount each month could be a good one. While we can’t offer a penny policy our direct cremation funeral plans are great value for money with payments with the option of a trust-based funeral plan and an over 50’s funeral plan.
Both our plans cover everything involved with arranging and carrying out a simple cremation funeral. That means than all transport costs, administration charges, doctors fees, a solid pine eco-coffin and hand delivery of the ashes are covered with nothing additional for your friends or family to worry about. You will receive all the details in the post including a Plan Summary & Certificate, a Record of Wishes and a My Funeral Wishes card to keep in your purse or wallet.
Want to know more about the direct cremation funeral plans available at Pure Cremation? You can read all about them online here or give us a call on 0800 182 2158 to have a chat to a member of our experienced team. Or if you'd prefer, you could request a free guide online to either view now as a PDF or to be sent in the post.