FEMA funeral coverage going unused by families

Many people are leaving money on the table when a family member dies from COVID-19.  Less than half of those eligible have applied for FEMA's funeral coverage.  

Unexpected funerals can leave a family financially devastated.  But the American Rescue Plan provides up to $9000 for funerals and burials for people who died of COVID-19.

While hundreds of thousands of Americans have died of COVID-19, FEMA data shows more than half of their families have not applied for funeral coverage.


It's even higher in Texas.  While 75,424 Texans have died of COVID-19, FEMA data shows only 33,850 applications have been filed.  The benefit has paid out $141 million for 21,701 Texas deaths.

Families should also be able to collect life insurance benefits for an insured person who dies of COVID-19, with a few exceptions.

Life insurance attorney Tatiana Kadetskaya says COVID-19 deaths are covered under natural causes, whether the patient was vaccinated or not.

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"It is considered a natural cause death, and it is covered by most life insurance policies, but it’s not covered under accidental death policies," explained Kadetskaya.  

Industry experts say it can sometimes be covered under accidental deaths for some front-line workers.  But now some employers, such as New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority, no longer pay death benefits for unvaccinated workers.

Kadetskaya says some life insurance policies are canceled while a patient is in the hospital and falls behind on premiums.  She says be aware of your policy's grace period.

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"The policy enters a grace period. It’s usually 30 to 60 days, and then it lapses," said Kadetskaya.

She points out employees who are terminated from their jobs can also convert group life insurance coverage to an individual policy if it is done before it lapses.

You can apply for FEMA funeral coverage by calling the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline at (844) 684-6333 or go to this link for more information.  You'll need a death certificate and funeral receipts.