End-of-life planning platforms, part 1: Cake

End-of-life planning platforms provide customers with a centralized hub to manage and learn about end-of-life plans, obtain guidance for managing the death of a loved one and receive emotional support for coping with death. These platforms offer resources such as post-loss checklists, memorial resources, articles on various topics related to end-of-life, end-of-life wishes, live concierge services, community forums and ways to share end-of-life plans with chosen loved ones. They also connect customers with third-party vendors that serve specific aspects of end-of-life planning. These platforms are increasingly popular as an add-on to life insurance policies and other financial products.

For this piece we sat down with Cake CEO Suelin Chen to ask her about the future of the Cake platform and the digital end-of-life planning space. Cake was founded in 2014 by business partners Suelin Chen and Mark Zhang.

Cake and other end-of-life planning platforms serve multiple functions for its customers with a diverse set of digital capabilities. However, CEO and co-founder Suelin Chen visualizes a clear role for the Cake platform in the end-of-life planning process: “Provide transparency, make it less confusing and help people make informed choices in line with their values.”

A screenshot showing Cake's sharing and key contacts page
Sharing & Key Contacts Page

Most of Cake’s services come with its free Essentials membership that users can sign up for directly online and its blog and memorial resources are even available to unauthenticated users. When it comes to distribution of Cake’s services, Chen emphasizes the importance of “making sure information is readily available for users” and “not placing too much behind a paywall.” The free Essentials membership includes:

  • Guides
  • Post-loss checklist
  • Memorial fundraiser
  • Document storage
  • Plan sharing with loved ones
  • Funeral templates
  • Limited funeral and planning discounts from third-party vendors

Premium membership is currently available for $24 per year and its added features include access to a wider range of discounted services—such as will-making, funeral services and planning—as well as access to Cake’s team of live experts who provide guidance and emotional support to members.

Although Cake is widely available through direct-to-consumer channels, the firm reaches most of its users by partnering with health systems, insurance companies, banks and hospitals to provide members/employees with custom solutions through co-branded and white-labeled online experiences. “It is through these partnerships that Cake touches half of all deaths in the U.S.,” says Chen, and that when it comes to connecting its members with third-party vendors, “Cake can forge the best relationships and negotiate the deepest discounts because of our scale.” Cake members can access discounts for services like will-making, cremation services and more.

The platform itself is simple and easy to navigate. Cake’s suite of tools and resources available from a top navigation and from a neatly organized Dashboard page with tile links that lead to each individual section of the site.

This screenshot shows the top and bottom of Cake's dashboard page
Dashboard – Top and Bottom

The blog section features its own dedicated top navigation that contains links to different Topic pages as well as links for different planning tools and resources.

This screenshot shows the explore mortality flyout from Cake's top navigation
Blog Section Top Navigation – Explore Mortality Flyout

In speaking about personalized experiences for users, Chen was keen to point out that “different scenarios have different user journeys” and that “Cake stands out for being uniquely able to figure out where a user is in their journey.” That much is certainly true:

A screenshot showing the initial onboarding process for Cake
Initial Onboarding

Cake members go through quick but thorough—and optional—onboarding processes for all different parts of the user journey. When users first login, they answer questions to determine their focus, such as:

  • Are they planning for their own death?
  • Are they managing the recent or future death of a loved one?
  • Are they the executor of their loved one’s estate?
  • What type of guidance do they need?
A screenshot showing Cake's end of life wishes onboarding process
End-of-Life Wishes Onboarding

Other processes located deeper into the site, such as End-of-Life Wishes also prompt users to go through an onboarding process to build a better profile of the user and where they currently stand in their end-of-life planning journey.

Currently, five firms in the Corporate Insight Life Insurance Monitor coverage group—including two insurtechs and three traditional insurers—offer its policyowners full access to an end-of-life planning platform. These platforms are also increasingly available on other financial service products. Learn more about our research services for life insurance here.