What if a loved one dies away from home?
According to a recent article published in May of 2016 by AAA, it was estimated that 38 million people traveled this past Memorial Day weekend. That is actually the second highest travel volume since 2005.
With all this traveling, one has to ask themselves at some point, what if a passing is to occur while away from home? Who would the family call, what would be done, and how in the world would they get them back home? Yes, leave it to an undertaker to take the nervousness of travel and amplify it by mixing in the question of what if death occurred out of town. This is actually a commonly asked question and one that we should all have the answer to — What should be done if death occurred away from home?
The quick answer is to always call your home town undertaker. Yes, no matter if it is cruising the Mediterranean or simply visiting family in a neighboring state, our immediate phone call if a death occurs is to our home town undertaker. A way of thinking of this is kind of a like a club or fraternity.
Undertakers have associates all over the world that assist each other — and no, they are not corporate, these are family owned and operated firms. When you reach out to your home town undertaker to let them know that a passing occurred and you are out of town, they then reach out to the local contact in that area to act on their behalf. This not only minimizes potential communication issues, due to a family dealing with just one dark suit, but it actually eliminates the risk of being double charged. In the land of an undertaker, there exists a fee called “Professional Service or Basic Services of Funeral Director and Staff.” This fee is a non-declinable fee that is incurred when contracting with a funeral home — per funeral home. So if one had contacted the funeral home where the passing occurred, then called the home town firm, they could incur two of these non-delineable fees. To the tune of several thousands of dollars! Where if they only contacted the home town firm, they would incur this expense only once.
This can not only be a savings on the expense of contacting two firms, but eliminate a tremendous amount of confusion as to what exactly each firm is doing. The hometown undertaker orchestrates all the moving parts in seeing that the individual is brought back home, and the family only has one bill to be concerned with — that of the home town firm.
“Ok, so I’ve got my home town “Digger O’Dell” to take care of things for me, but what about transportation?” When it comes to transporting the individual the undertaker will advise whether they will need to be flown via airplane or escorted on land. This all depends on the proximity of where the death occurred to the home town firm’s location. First let’s understand that if the family chooses cremation, then typically cremation is completed in the state/location where death occurred and then the cremated remains are transported to the home town undertaker — again, all orchestrated by the hometown undertaker.
The transportation situation is different if a traditional burial or visitation before cremation is planned.
It would be highly recommended (if not required in some situations) that the necessary preparation be completed (ie. embalming). For ground transportation the only added expense is typically mileage to and from. But if the body is to be transported by air, there are some additional and a bit more costly expenses that must be incurred. First is the air fare and the next is the acceptable vessel permitted by the FAA to fly the individual back home. These two expenses together are typically exceeding the $1,000 range.
With the airfare being all over the place today, and the varying expense of the FAA permitted vessels used, modern day funeral firms are offering a program called MASA. This is a transportation insurance program offered through progressive funeral homes that provide a cost savings when the situation of death away from home might arise. This program is a one-time $425 flat rate fee paid in advance that provides the coverage to the individual for paying all, yes ALL, expenses associated with bringing that person home. This newly offered program provides exceptional coverage and can save on a tremendous expense, allowing a family to focus on bringing themselves home safely.
Family reunions, vacation weekends or simply a road trip away from home, no matter what it may be in each of our futures we all now understand what must be done if something ever happens while traveling out of town. Let’s just say that the methods used for Aunt Ethel by Clark Griswold in the 1980’s film “National Lampoon’s Vacation” isn’t the wisest choice for today. Simply pick up that phone and call your home town undertaker.