MEXICO CITY—They live and die in the United States, but for the families of many Hispanics, burial must be in their home country. It is a journey that can be delayed for months by the expensive and confusing process of negotiating international borders.
Now a Mexican insurance company is selling low-cost policies to Hispanics, promising to pay to embalm a body, get it to even the remotest of hometowns and pay funeral costs.
With offices in Mexico City and Lynwood, Calif., Grupo Servicios Especiales Profesionales offers three-year policies for $30. Since first offering policies more than three months ago, Grupo SEP says, it has attracted 30,000 clients and sells 80 to 90 policies per day.
Although higher-paying jobs and better living standards draw millions of Mexicans north, a love of their homeland rarely fades. Being buried where one was born is important throughout the region.
Compelling examples can be found from the war in Iraq. Mexican-born U.S. soldiers have been flown to their native land for burial instead of being laid to rest in the nation for which they gave their lives fighting.
Porfilia Reyes, who bought a five-year policy in Los Angeles, first slipped into California to work in a clothing factory in 1975 and is now a U.S. citizen. She still wants to be buried in western Mexico’s Nayarit state, where she was born.
“I’m not home if I’m not in Mexico,” the 51-year-old said.
The Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles negotiated favorable prices on repatriation with five funeral homes that shipped back 200 bodies last year, said spokeswoman Mireta Magana. She said she did not know of any other insurance plan like SEP’s.