Death can bring an unexpected and emotional shift to those who are left to handle the final celebration of a loved one. Not only is there the burden of losing a loved one in addition making funeral arrangements can also present a financial burden that some families are often unprepared to face, In Texas alone the average cost of a funeral arrangement can range anywhere from $6,800.00 – $10,000.00 with all services combined, according to Lifefinder. This alone can make the onset of a funeral even more stressful than it already is. That’s where people like Vickie Richardson can help.
Vickie Richardson is the founder and CEO of Combined Benefit Solutions of Texas, LLC and Premier Funeral Consulting and Financial Services, an insurance and Financial Planning Company based in the Dallas and Tarrant County areas. While they specialize in providing basic life insurance plans, Steward explains that their focus lies in providing advance funeral planning for their clients.
Most funeral homes regardless of size, corporate of independently owned offers pre-arranged funeral plans often called preneed insurance. Some funeral homes have agents employed to sell pre-needs and some have independent contractors that sell plans for their funeral homes. Steward says in her pursuit to offer prearranged funeral plans to her client base she found that some funeral homes didn’t have preneed counselors or a structured preneed department she explained in her interview with the North Dallas Gazzett. So, I started to build relationships with other funeral homes in the area, then I began to investigate their need for a stronger and aggressive preneed department that was cost effective for the owners.
One of the things Richardson realized, was that there was little or no marketing for preneed insurance in some of the funeral homes, because the focus was mainly at need (meaning that death has already occurred) business. Preneed insurance is a contract between the funeral home and the client where funds are put aside for their funeral in advance. The client can make monthly payments that is comfortable for their budget over a number of months and when the plan is paid out it is there at the funeral home until death occurs and this becomes future business for the funeral home with arrangements already made in advance and the advantage is the price is frozen at todays prices. Richardson tells NDG that she saw a way that she could not only help her clients, but she could also be a great help to the funeral homes. Richardson partnered with one of the largest preneed marketing organizations in the nation that focused on the senior market and as a independent contractor, she would bring new opportunities to the independently owned funerals homes in the metroplex.
After 24 years in the industry, she decided that she wanted to do more in the funeral industry when it came to the preneed market, so she became a proctor for the Texas Dept. of insurance through one of her insurance carriers and started to license and train preneed agents on this unique product. In addition, they would be assigned to a particular funeral home and sell pre-needs to the families that the funeral home served. At no direct cost to the funeral home and all agents are paid great commissions on the business they write for the funeral home. With these partnerships she was able to provide funeral homes with a stronger and more competitive pre-need department with innovative solutions that is second to none.
Richardson was licensed in the state of Texas in 1989 and set up an office in the 3rd bedroom of her home for years, she later decided that she needed office space to be more visual. She found that her church was offering office space for startup and small businesses and immediately she moved in and her business began to grow so that I had a good problem, I needed to hire help she explains. After over 5 years I needed more space. I did not want to move out of the community that I served for so many years, therefore it made since to move to the newly being renovated Red Bird Mall area. This way I was still in the community that I served and within 10 mins of each funeral home she provided services for.
Richardson has been in the insurance industry for over 32 years and added advance funeral planning 24 years ago with the help of my mentor that I worked with at the first funeral home I sold pre-needs for, she learned a lot about funeral planning which help her to better serve her senior market and the community by educating prospects and clients about the importance of both life insurance and advance funeral planning.
Richardson explains that by preplanning you save your family hundreds of thousands of dollars by planning in advance, making provisions now saves your family from having the experience of financial hardship tomorrow she says. She also explains that life insurance was never designed to bury anyone, it’s the vehicle that keeps family financially secure and leave an inheritance for those left behind.
One of the worse things that can happen Richardson says is that a loved one is having to go to a funeral home and make funeral arrangements for a family member under grieve and stress trying to make financial decisions and listening to different people dictate on how the final celebration should be conducted.
Richardson is hoping to continue to educate people on the benefits of preplanning through her business especially in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak the worst pandemic in 100 years say Dr. Fauci. This past year alone was the busiest year I have had ever, simply due to people realizing they have not made any provisions for the what if or leaving someone to carry the load of raising money to funeralize their loved one that fell victim to the virus.