Ask an Insurance Agent: Do I Need to Be Embalmed?


Making decisions and talking about your end-of-life wishes are not the most desirable tasks. However, preparing in advance will help leave your loved ones with fewer burdens after you’re gone. There are many variables to consider when you plan for your final arrangements. Did you know that a final expense insurance policy could help cover them? 

Initial Questions to Ask 

First, ask yourself: Do I want to be buried or cremated? 

And: Do I want an open or closed casket ceremony? 

Also, you should consider whether embalming is something you think is necessary.

What Is Embalming?

Embalming is the process of preserving human remains to (usually) make the deceased suitable for viewing — public or private — as part of the funeral ceremony. 

Related Post: Common Funeral Terms Defined

What’s the Purpose of Embalming?

It generally disinfects a deceased body and improves the appearance for people who decide to have an open casket. As a result, close family members and friends can see the deceased — like they appeared when they were alive.

Early Considerations and Cost

If you choose to be embalmed, funeral homes will consider these aspects, and you should keep them in mind:

  • Your condition upon death
  • What caused the death
  • Medications you took before death
  • Climatic conditions

Some corpses decay faster than others. After considering the aspects above and examining the body, the embalmer should provide a timeline for decomposition. Know that embalming doesn’t preserve the body forever and it can cost around $750.

Is Embalming Really Necessary?

It depends on what funeral arrangements you make. For a service with public viewing, embalming is probably necessary. 

If you don’t want embalming, you typically have the right to say no and choose an arrangement like immediate burial or direct cremation. These don’t require you to pay for embalming. 

Some folks don’t like the idea of it for personal or religious reasons.

What World Religions Say About Embalming

Most branches and denominations of Christianity allow embalming. It has no origins in Christian religion. Muslim, Bahá’í and orthodox Jewish faiths view embalming as a violation of the body, and disallow it. Meanwhile, Hindus and Buddhists prefer cremation over traditional burial — so they don’t need embalming.       

What the Law Says About Embalming

Embalming is not normally required by law — except in certain situations. Family and friends can have a private viewing of the body without embalming, if desired. With public viewings, such as in a funeral home, the laws vary between states. Some funeral homes require embalming, and some states will, too, if long-distance travel is needed to move the body.

Legal and Health Considerations

Embalming is instructed when a cadaver (corpse) crosses state lines from Alabama to Alaska. Other states (5) require embalming when the corpse exits the state via airplane or train. They are:

  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • California
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “embalming has no community health benefit.” Embalming chemicals are quite toxic, which is why embalmers must wear a respirator and full-body covering while doing the procedure. 

Related Post: 10 Questions to Ask When Planning a Funeral

Talk to Final Expense Direct

Want to learn more about embalming and the other elements covered under final expense insurance? Talk to an agent at Final Expense Direct. No matter what your end-of-life and burial wishes may be, we’ll find you a policy that protects you and your loved ones. Call 1-877-674-0236. 

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