WREG exposes the major loophole in some burial policies

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Burying a loved one is never easy, but when you've made plans ahead of time you expect that to ease the emotional and financial burden.

95-year-old Aline Brown is still grieving over the death of her daughter, Elizabeth. She died last June but the issues surrounding her burial have remained a constant reminder of the family's pain.

"I was thinking I was going to get some kind of help on it. I didn't ask a whole lot of questions about how much and all like that," said Brown.

Brown bought a burial policy in 1979 from Supreme Burial Association for her and her 4 children. It costs a mere $9 a month. For 36 years, she said she paid on time monthly, paying the same representative who often came to her door to pick up the money.

"I've been cheated or something. I just don't know. I was so hurt, you know. It bothered me so much. I tried to forget it but I couldn't," said Brown.

The policy states it's for a standard funeral. The contract spells out that includes a casket, funeral coach, family car and grave marker, but at the very bottom says this policy does not exceed $100.00.

Brown said she has paid thousands over the years, and she had to pay again to bury her daughter.

"I called myself having something good. Something I could trust but I come out behind."

Mrs. Brown`s son turned to WREG Investigators to help find out why no one delivered on the promise to deliver the burial services. WREG found out Supreme Burial went out of business years ago but the burial policy agent representing them continued collecting the money for another company, Snow Funeral Home.

WREG confronted Snow management about the policy.

Stephanie: "Is the policy tied to Snow Funeral Home because it's got your name on the receipt."

Peter Showers: "The only thing we did, the money that was collected. We probably didn't collect over $200 over a period of 2 years or whatever amount of time."

Stephanie: "We did the math and it's about $4,000 since 1979."

Peter Showers: "But we didn't receive that."

Showers assumed the burial policy from the burial association that went out of business.

"Whatever money that she collected, we would just put it aside so whenever the time comes if they wanted a funeral then we would have monies available," added Showers.

WREG checked with the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance about Brown`s complaint.

After looking into it, a spokesperson told us these 'burial association' policies that cover multiple members are typically only worth between $100.00 to $200.00. The cost of a funeral today far exceeds what these policies pay for.  They should not be confused with life insurance policies.

"I didn't get a chance to use nothing. Didn't want nobody to just take my money. You know just. I'm 95 years old that I'm not able to work for no more," cried Brown.

The Brown family filed a complaint through the state department of commerce and insurance. The state said no law was broken and her only recourse now is to file a civil lawsuit to get her money back.

Snow Funeral Home said it gave the family a discount but didn't specify how much of a discount was given to Mrs. Brown.

If you have one of these policies, you will want to check to see what it actually pays for.

The RISE Foundation offers free information through its Silver Neighbor program to help seniors plan for life events like burials. Click on the link to contact the organization.