2020 Annual Report

In a year full of disruption, we remained focused on helping families design a better farewell, benefitting those they love.

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Enabling a Better Farewell

Stephen M. Shaffer

I want to lead off with a sincere statement of gratitude for the courage, dedication and creativity demonstrated by our affiliated funeral and preneed professionals.

Throughout the last year, you have navigated unprecedented challenges while continuing to serve families during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

It is perhaps noteworthy that this test of our resolve comes as Homesteaders enters our 115th year of existence. Thanks to the combined efforts of our customers, agents and employees, we continue to be a strong, trusted and reliable funeral funding partner.

Stephen M. Shaffer
President, CEO & Board Chair

 

Serving with Creativity and Compassion

Funeral professionals often feel called to help families work through some of the worst moments of their lives. Last year, these moments were made even more challenging when the world was struck with a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.

Despite the obstacles, funeral providers found creative ways to make those farewells meaningful, leveraging smart new technology to celebrate and honor the decedents in their care. Over the last year, our funeral service colleagues have done what they always do: persevere.

Continuing Exceptional Service

Funeral homes across the country were determined to maintain exceptional service while adhering to state and local health guidelines.

New technology like live steaming, virtual arrangement conferences and remote funeral sales allowed families to stay safe in their homes during at-need and preneed planning. Some funeral homes even developed their own technology, like creating a way for families to see their loved one virtually prior to cremation for their peace of mind.

Creating (Safe) Memories

Funeral professionals found creative ways to help families say goodbye.

Some providers rotated visitors through visitations in small groups. Others opted for “drive-thru” viewings or outdoor services that allowed for social distancing. A program called “Hugs from Home” became popular in many funeral homes, giving friends and family who could not attend the funeral in person a way to show their support through personal messages tied to balloons.

Looking to the Future

How the profession responded to the coronavirus pandemic will impact funeral service for years to come.

The restrictions placed on gatherings have created an increased appreciation for the importance of a final goodbye. Even through all the chaos and heartbreak of the pandemic, one silver lining is that communities all across the country are finding value in their relationships with one another as well as the value of celebrating a loved one’s life.

  • We have tried to keep the mindset that we wouldn’t let the pandemic affect our exceptional customer service. We didn’t let COVID-19 drive the decisions for our families. Whatever they wanted, we’re going to do our best to accomplish.
    Kevin Brown
    Hinsey-Brown Funeral Service
  • It was a tough time for us and for the families we served, but we worked hard, came together as a team and focused on providing excellent service in a safe environment. We were able to meet the needs of our consumers and the increased demand for at-need services in our area.
    Jimmy Altmeyer
    Altmeyer Funeral Homes and Crematory
  • I really think people noticed how vital our services are to the community. That funerals aren’t just a commodity or a high-cost service. We were seen for all the things we do behind the scenes that no one really thinks about just because it was on the forefront of their minds.
    David Hernandez
    Jersey Memorial Group

Responding with Teamwork and Innovation

While funeral professionals found new and creative ways to serve families during coronavirus pandemic, Homesteaders took swift action to ensure the continuation of our essential business operations and promote the safety of our partners, employees and policy owners.

We successfully shifted nearly 90% of our team members to remote work and adopted a socially distanced work environment for those who continued working in the home office, all while providing a seamless service experience for our funeral home customers, agents and policy owners.

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Remote Sales Options

Homesteaders adapted to offer several new ways to serve funeral home customers, agents and policy owners during times when face-to-face meetings were not possible.

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Online Presentations & Resources

To help our funeral home customers and agents adapt to the new selling environment, we developed a comprehensive resource library featuring remote presentation tools.

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COVID-19 Crisis Response Fund

Homesteaders committed the $100,000 lead match for the Funeral Service Foundation’s COVID-19 Crisis Response Fund, providing much-needed emergency assistance and grief support to funeral providers and families.

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Online Continuing Education

The Homesteaders Training & Development team quickly adapted to offer free online continuing education for funeral director and insurance credits.

Building New Connections

In the fall, we launched Homesteaders Solutions, an all-new suite of integrated services that helps funeral providers increase revenue, grow market share and serve more families.

The new best-in-class resources combine the success of eFuneral’s online sales engine, DomaniCare’s award-winning aftercare program and Homesteaders’ secure funeral funding to connect funeral homes with consumers, providing exceptional customer experiences and building long-lasting brand strength.

1 Market and Needs Analysis to identify your best pathway to growth.

2 Advanced Lead Generation with comprehensive CRM tracking and detailed monthly reports.

3 Appointment Setting to keep funeral planning active and productive.

4 Remote and Online Sales tools to facilitate seamless preneed and at-need sales.

5 Online Review Management to promote positive customer experiences.

6 Aftercare and Grief Support to increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and recommendations.

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Homesteaders Solutions offers everything from lead generation and text-based family follow up to appointment setting and remote preneed sales, all centered around EnGauge, a robust customer relationship management system, custom-built through Salesforce.

Learn More

Reaching More Families

In 2020, Domani and Homesteaders announced they were joining forces to provide Homesteaders affiliated funeral homes and marketing partners access to Domani’s best-in-class preneed appointment setting center and Domanicare, the award-winning text message aftercare and reputation management program.

This new venture will help Domani bring its innovative and highly successful products and services to the market on a grander scale, while developing new tools that will help funeral professionals and consumers connect and engage in new and meaningful ways.

Domanicare - Aftercare for the digital age

Domani’s preneed appointment setting team found growth and success in 2020 with scheduling remote appointments for their funeral home customers.

Domani’s skilled service team scheduled 6,000 appointments on behalf of partner funeral homes, giving their staff more time to focus on serving families.

Domanicare provided thousands of families with grief support and resources, offering much needed assistance to many families who were unable to participate in in-person grief support programs. Domanicare also gave families a way to share their positive experiences through online reviews.

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Nearly 700 funeral homes participated in Domanicare in 2020.

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Domanicare’s service professionals sent 1.4 million messages of support to grieving family members.

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The service helped generate 8,700 Google reviews for funeral home customers.

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At the end of the year, 97% of all Domanicare partner funeral homes were ranked #1 in their market on Google.

Closing More Sales

Homesteaders’ eFuneral subsidiary experienced record growth in 2020, due in large part to an expanding awareness of and demand for online funeral planning.

The increased demand led to the rapid development of eFuneral Agent, an agent-driven online sales tool that empowered partner funeral homes to guide families through a customized online planning experience, capturing paperwork, signatures and initial premium payment, all in a remote setting.

eFuneral Partner

The eFuneral team expanded to support their growth, doubling in size to provide continued support and assistance to new funeral providers.

Throughout the year, they began development work on a more comfortable planning experience for families and deployed a pilot version of an all new lead capture platform. While full deployment is slated for later in 2021, initial tests have been able to capture more qualified leads for funeral providers earlier in the planning process, paving the way for even more growth in the year ahead.

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206 new funeral providers started offering eFuneral online planning to families in their communities.

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Consumers purchased $5.4 million in funeral plans.

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Nearly 80% of those were new preneed sales.

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eFuneral also generated 8,400 new leads for funeral providers, with an 67% close rate.

Serving with Flexibility and Resilience

The innovative services and technology resources we’ve put in place over the past several years laid the groundwork for us to continue to serve customers through the new and often challenging circumstances this year presented.

We’re proud of the efforts of our funeral home partners to continue to serve families, and our team has worked diligently with patience, passion and perseverance to meet and exceed the outstanding level of service our funeral home customers, agents and policy owners deserve.

New Business

Our new business team issued more than 85,146 policies.

  • 17,573 applications were processed through Online Enrollment and 10,831 were processed through the tool’s print and mail option.
  • 79% of policies were issued on the same day policy paperwork was received.
  • 3,675 agents wrote at least one policy in 2020.

Claims Team

Our claims team paid nearly 70,000 claims.

  • 21,730 claims were reported via online submission (a 10.61% increase over claims reported via online submission in 2019).
  • 15,423 claims were paid through EFT (a 14.02% increase over claims paid through EFT in 2019).
  • 47,253 Instant Claims were paid.

Customer Service

Our customer service team answered more than 175,444 calls.

  • Our smooth transition to remote work allowed us to maintain exceptional customer service by phone and helped us safely avoid potential interruptions.
  • 1,506 Spanish-language calls were answered by our Spanish-language customer service representatives and did not require assistance from our language line translation service.
  • 99% of Homesteaders customers were satisfied with their service experience in 2019.

Our industry-leading team of account executives continued to safely serve funeral home customers while adhering to health and travel guidelines.

They offered personalized service to each funeral home through phone calls, emails and virtual or socially distanced meetings, for a total of more than 62,681 contacts with funeral professionals. In the latest customer satisfaction survey, the team earned an all-time high rating for the percentage of customers who indicated their account executive “exceeds expectations.”

Contact Your Account Executive

In 2020, we expanded our account executive team program to several more states.

With this approach, a team of a Home Office Account Executive and a Field Account Executive work together to serve firms in collaboration with one another. In a year with so much disruption, that additional support helped firms continue to meet the demand for advance funeral planning.

Through the new and sometimes challenging circumstances, we continue our investment in tools and resources that allow us to serve funeral professionals more efficiently and effectively so they can help more families benefit from advance funeral planning. We’re relentlessly pursuing new ways to provide the best possible experience for our stakeholders at every step.

Investing in Long-term Security

Despite the challenges of 2020, we were able to meet our obligations, support our employees and serve our customers – all while operating from a position of strength and financial security.

Homesteaders takes very seriously the promises we make to funeral professionals, agents and policy owners, and we have always adopted a conservative investment strategy that ensures we can honor those commitments.

Last year served as yet another reminder of why we manage the way we do – our conservative approach gives us the security we need to navigate exceptional challenges. In 115 years, Homesteaders has never failed to pay a claim.

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Homesteaders earned an A- (Excellent) rating from A.M. Best Company.*

Earnings

How did we earn money in 2020?

Chart showing we earned $583 Million in income, with a breakdown of 23% Investment Income and 77% Premiums

How did we spend money in 2020?

Chart showing 93% of our income is redistributed to our funeral home customers, agents and policy owners, with a breakdown of 1% Taxes, 6% Operational Expenses, 8% Policy Reserves, 74% Policy Benefits, 11% Commissions and Loyalty Programs

Highlights

Total Assets

Chart showing $3.2 Billion in assets, up 1% from 2019, with a breakdown of 5% Mortgages, 6% Cash and Other and 89% Bonds.

Total Liabilities

Chart showing $3 Billion in liabilities, with a breakdown of 3% Other Liabilities, 97% Policy Benefits & Reserves.

At a time when it seems there is so much uncertainty, we want our stakeholders to know that Homesteaders remains financially strong and unwavering in our commitment to success and long-term security.

We’re building infrastructure today that will help us thrive for the next 115 years. While it is important to grow profitably, at the end of the day, our team measures success by the number of people we can help design a better farewell, benefitting those they love.

Board of Directors

Company Leadership

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