What if a loved one dies away from home?

Record Observer - - Senior Satellite -

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.

RYAN HELFEN­BEIN

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