Earth™ FAQs

If you don’t see the answer to your question, please contact our care team.

General questions

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    • Is Earth a funeral home?
    • Yes, Earth is a licensed funeral home that specializes in soil transformation, sometimes also referred to as human composting or natural organic reduction. We have the exact same professional licenses as traditional funeral homes and are regularly inspected by state regulators. Our team consists of highly experienced local funeral directors.

      To learn more about Earth, see our about page.

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    • How do I make arrangements with Earth?
    • Earth provides a comprehensive soil transformation package that includes everything that you need. You can make arrangements online, over the phone, or at our state-of-the-art King County facility. You can make arrangements for a loved one who has just passed, a loved one who is expected to pass soon, or you can plan for the future - either for yourself or a loved one - with a prepaid funeral plan. We make funeral planning effortless.

      To start, get an instant online soil transformation price.

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    • Can I visit Earth in person?
    • Families can visit our facilities to make new arrangements and to collect their loved one's soil.

      To schedule an appointment to make new arrangements, please click here.

      Soil collection hours are Monday through Friday, 12pm-4pm. We notify you when your soil is ready.

      You can also tour our facility online.

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    • Is a funeral/memorial service included?
    • No, our soil transformation process takes place in the days immediately following the passing and without a funeral service beforehand. Many of our families choose to hold a memorial or celebration service at a later date. This can either be through a religious venue, another funeral home, or at a more personal venue, such as someone's house, a favorite restaurant or in nature.

      With direct disposition (no viewing or service prior to the soil transformation), you're able to arrange a much more personalized service for your loved one, and without the cost and time-pressure of a traditional funeral home.

      Learn more about how our process works here.

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    • What areas do you serve?
    • Earth currently offers soil transformation in Washington and Oregon states:

      Counties in Washington include: Adams County, Benton County, Chelan County, Clallam County, Clark County, Cowlitz County, Douglas County, Franklin County, Grant County, Grays Harbor County, Island County, Jefferson County, King County, Kitsap County, Kittitas County, Lewis County, Mason County, Pierce County, Skagit County, Snohomish County, Spokane County, Thurston County, Whatcom County and Yakima County.

      Counties in Oregon include: Benton County, Clackamas County, Clatsop County, Columbia County, Deschutes County, Douglas County, Lane County, Lincoln County, Linn County, Marion County, Multnomah County, Polk County, and Yamhill County.

      As soil transformation (sometimes referred to as natural organic reduction or human composting) becomes more available, we will expand our service area and availability to new states.

      View Earth's full service area.

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    • Who do I contact if I have further questions?
    • Our care team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can call us at (877) 327-4109).

Soil transformation

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    • What is soil transformation?
    • Soil transformation is a sustainable alternative to cremation, traditional burial and aquamation. Over a 45-day process, a body is gently transformed into nutrient rich soil.

      A portion of the soil is returned to the family - to scatter or plant - and the remaining soil is sent to local conservation sites for land restoration projects, such as reforestation, soil rehabilitation, and restoring challenged ecosystems.

      The soil transformation process produces no net CO2 emission compared to 535 lbs from cremation, and uses 90% less water than aquamation.

      Soil transformation is sometimes referred to as human composting, and is legally called natural organic reduction.

      Learn more about soil transformation, the process and the environmental benefits here.

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    • Who is eligible for soil transformation?
    • The majority of the population is eligible for soil transformation. The only people precluded are those who have radioactive implants, those who died as a result of a radiological incident or accident, or had, or were suspected of having, one or more of the following conditions: prion disease infection, mycobacterium tuberculosis infection, Ebola virus disease infection.

      At this time, we unfortunately cannot accommodate people over 250lbs.

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    • Can someone who dies of covid-19 undergo soil transformation?
    • Yes, the soil transformation process reaches temperatures in excess of 131F for at least 72 consecutive hours and therefore kills harmful pathogens, bacteria and viruses.

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    • How does the soil transformation process work?
    • The Earth soil transformation process follows a four step process:

      1. The body is gently washed and wrapped in a biodegradable shroud.
      2. The body is placed in its own individual vessel on a layer of organic mulch, woodchip and wildflower.
      3. Over a 45-day process, the body is broken down on a molecular level by water and beneficial microbes.
      4. Each process produces an approximate cubic-yard of nutrient-rich soil. Families choose how much soil they'd like returned, and the remainder is used for land restoration.

      Read more about the soil transformation process here.

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    • What is the science behind the soil transformation process?
    • The underlying science behind soil transformation is composting; balancing carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and water, and optimizing temperature and moisture levels. This creates perfect conditions for naturally occurring microbes and beneficial bacteria to break the body down on a molecular level.

      Our proprietary vessel technology creates and optimizes these conditions. Soil transformation is an accelerated natural process.

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    • How long does soil transformation take?
    • The soil transformation process takes approximately 45 days. The exact length of the process depends on the size of the body, much like cremation or aquamation.

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    • What vessel is used for soil transformation?
    • We've developed a proprietary soil transformation vessel that accelerates the human composting process. Our vessel recreates, then optimizes conditions found in the natural world. Specifically, the vessel optimizes temperature, aeration and moisture levels to create perfect conditions for beneficial bacteria and microbes to thrive.

      You can see a picture of our vessel on our soil transformation page.

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    • Can I use soil transformation for my pet?
    • Technically yes, and there's a long history of composting animals in agriculture. That said, Earth does not currently offer a pet composting service at this time.

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    • What are the environmental benefits of soil transformation?
    • Soil transformation, or human composting, is probably the most sustainable urban funeral process in the world.

      The Earth soil transformation process, legally called natural organic reduction, produces no net CO2 compared to 535 lbs from cremation, uses 90% less water than aquamation, and the nutrient-rich soil created during the process is used for land restoration and improving soil health. The environmental benefit is second to none.

      Read more about the environmental benefits of soil transformation here.

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    • Why is soil health important?
    • Healthy soil is paramount to a healthy ecosystem as it filters water, provides nutrients to plants and animals, sequesters carbon, reduces landslides and flooding, and helps regulate global temperatures.

      By choosing soil transformation, you play an important role in restoring and maintaining soil health.

      Read more about the importance of soil health.

The soil

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    • What is the soil and how can I use it?
    • The soil transformation process produces a nutrient-rich soil that is ready to be returned to nature. You may choose to scatter it in places that are meaningful to you and your loved one, or you may use it to nourish a favorite house plant, tree, or flower garden. In either case, the minerals and nutrients will be reincorporated into the natural ecosystem, enabling new growth and regeneration. We recommend returning the soil to the earth within a couple of weeks of receipt.

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    • How is the soil packaged?
    • Each portion of soil is contained within a 32 fl oz container. Each container is recyclable, biodegradable and compostable. The soil container is designed for the careful storage of your loved one's soil until you're able to scatter or plant it. The soil is organic material and is intended to be returned to nature; we recommend doing so within a couple of weeks from return.

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    • How do I know the soil is safe?
    • As a licensed soil transformation facility (legally referred to as a natural organic reduction facility), we're subject to strict regulation regarding the quality of the soil we produce. In order to maintain our facility license, we're required to frequently prove the quality of our soil as per test methods developed by the US Composting Council, and other test criteria.

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    • How do I know that it's my loved one's soil?
    • We operate in a highly regulated industry and take the chain of custody of your loved one very seriously. Before the soil transformation process takes place, we confirm identity, and a unique ID number is assigned and stamped on a metal disk - this disk then accompanies your loved one throughout the soil transformation process. This system ensures we always know who is who, and you can be certain that you're receiving your loved one's soil.

Soil transformation availability

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    • Is Earth currently accepting bodies?
    • Yes, we opened our soil transformation facility in 2022 after almost 2 years and many millions of dollars in R&D. We've developed the most sophisticated human composting technology in the world, and we own and operate our own state-of-the-art facility in Washington State.

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    • Are your soil transformation facilities open to families?
    • Families can visit our facilities to make new arrangements and to collect their loved one's soil.

      To schedule an appointment to make new arrangements, please click here.

      Soil collection hours are Monday through Friday, 12pm-4pm. We notify you when your soil is ready.

      You can also tour our facility online.

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    • Where is soil transformation available?
    • Soil transformation, sometimes referred to as human composting and legally called natural organic reduction, is currently legal in Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Vermont. There are active bills to regulate the process in California, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota and New York. Several other states are also working to legalize the process as it grows quickly in popularity.

      If you're in a state that hasn't yet legalized natural organic reduction, you can still choose it, but the body will need to be transported out-of-state to the nearest state that does allow it (and that has an operating natural organic reduction facility).

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    • Can I utilize Earth if I am out of state?
    • At this time, Earth's immediate services are only available in the Pacific Northwest. While you can technically transport bodies to Earth | PNW from other states, we believe doing so undermines one of the greatest advantages of soil transformation, which is that the process is carbon neutral. We are also currently operating at our capacity.

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    • When is Earth coming to my area?
    • While it is difficult to commit to any concrete timelines, we're working hard to bring soil transformation to a state near you.

      Sign up to be the first to know when we launch in your area.

Soil transformation difference

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    • Why is soil transformation so environmentally friendly?
    • Soil transformation is the world's most sustainable urban funeral process. An Earth soil transformation produces no net CO2 compared to 535 lbs from cremation, uses 90% less water than aquamation, and the nutrient-rich soil end-product is used for land restoration and conservation.

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    • How is soil transformation different from traditional burial?
    • Soil transformation is an environmentally friendly alternative to burial. The process takes place indoors and produces an approximate cubic-yard of nutrient-rich soil which is then used for conservation projects. Burial, on the other hand, poisons the earth through the interment of toxic chemicals (embalming fluid), non-degradable wood and metal (caskets), and concrete (the burial vault). It is also resource intensive with the manufacturing and nationwide transportation of caskets and headstones.

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    • How is soil transformation different from cremation?
    • Soil transformation is conceptually similar to cremation in that it's an indoor process that produces an end-product. Soil transformation however is far friendlier to the environment. The Earth soil transformation process uses renewable energy and emits no net CO2 emissions. Cremation is a fossil fuel driven process that emits CO2 equivalent to a 609 miles car journey.

      Learn more about how cremation works.

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    • How is soil transformation different from green or natural burial?
    • The soil transformation process takes place indoors and is a great option for people who don't want to be buried or who may not have access to a green burial site. The soil from the process is used for land restoration, and it can also be scattered or planted in meaningful places. Green or natural burial has similar environmental credentials but there’s been a large cultural shift away from burial of all forms over the past few decades, and availability is typically limited in urban areas. Cities like Seattle, in fact, do not allow new burial grounds since they're considered an inefficient use of valuable urban land. We're supporters of green burial but believe soil transformation is a more convenient and flexible funeral option!

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    • How is soil transformation different from water cremation/aquamation (alkaline hydrolysis)?
    • While aquamation is more environmentally friendly than cremation due to its low CO2 emissions, the process requires a large amount of water (around 400 gallons per person), and the water from the process is usually flushed into the sewer system. The Earth soil transformation process, in contrast, uses 90% less water, and the soil end-product is used for land restoration and conservation.

Earth package

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    • What is included in the Earth Package?
    • Our comprehensive soil transformation package includes everything that you need: services of a licensed funeral director, collection from place of passing, filing of all paperwork and permits, the soil transformation process, portions of the soil returned in biodegradable containers, and access to the Earth Portal.

      Learn more about the Earth Package contents here.

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    • Is soil transformation less expensive than cremation?
    • This really depends on the cremation provider that you use. Some providers will be significantly less expensive than soil transformation, and others will be significantly more expensive. There are many different options that affect the final price, and some providers offer a far better experience or additional services than others.

      The soil transformation process itself uses premium quality natural materials, is a gentle 45-day process, and takes place in state-of-the-art modern facilities.

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    • Does Earth provide certified death certificates?
    • We order death certificates on your behalf via VitalChek. Let us know how many you'd like, and we'll have them mailed directly to you. Death certificates typically take around two weeks to arrive from when they're ordered (we let you know as soon as we've ordered them).

      You can also order death certificates yourself, either through VitalChek or by visiting the Vital Statistics Office in the County where your loved one passed.

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    • What are the different soil return options?
    • We return soil via three methods:

      USPS Priority Mail Express - to any US postal address. This is the only legal method to send natural organic reduction soil in the US. It's fully trackable and requires a signature upon delivery.

      Hand delivery - to any address in our service area.

      In-person collection - from our Pacific Northwest facility during collection hours (M-F, 12-4pm). We notify you when your soil is ready for collection.

Immediate need services (at-need)

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    • What are immediate need arrangements?
    • Immediate need arrangements, sometimes referred to as at-need funeral arrangements, are for families who have recently lost a loved one and need services immediately. Immediate need arrangements are typically for unexpected or sudden deaths, where no advance plans have been made.

      Read more about our service.

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    • What do I do when a loved one dies?
    • If you need our services immediately, please call our 24/7 care team at (877) 327-4109 or get an online quote to start our online arrangement process. You can make arrangements online or over the phone, and as soon as you've completed the arrangements, we'll bring your loved one into our care. Our care team is here to guide you through the process.

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    • When do I pay for Earth's services?
    • For immediate need services you pay in full prior to services being rendered. You can do this online or over the phone, and we accept all major credit cards.

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    • How do I complete the vital statistics?
    • Vital statistics are the information we collect from the next of kin in order to be able to register a loved one's death. We cannot legally move forward with the soil transformation process until this point. Earth handles the death registration process, including all communication with your loved one's physician or hospice team, and the county and state in which your loved one passed.

      You provide us with your loved one's vital statistics by completing our online paperwork questionnaire and signing the electronic documents we generate for you.

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    • Do I need a death certificate?
    • Certified copies of the death certificate are required by banks, government agencies, credit card and insurance companies, former employers and other organizations. We generally recommend ordering between 5-8 copies, which we can do on your behalf.

Imminent need services

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    • What are imminent need arrangements?
    • Imminent need arrangements are for families who are expecting a loved one to pass in the next six months, often in the next few days or weeks.

      When you make imminent need arrangements with Earth, you complete all the planning and legal paperwork ahead of time. We keep your credit card safely on file but do not charge it until you actually require our services.

      Learn more about our imminent need soil transformation service.

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    • What are the benefits of imminent need arrangements?
    • Imminent need funeral arrangements give you peace of mind and enable you to focus on spending final moments with your loved one. You won't have to worry about making funeral arrangements at the time of their passing.

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    • What do I do when a loved one dies when I have made imminent need arrangements?
    • When your loved one dies and you're ready for us to bring them into our care, call our 24/7 care team at (877) 327-4109. We're typically there within 2 hours.

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    • When do I pay for Earth's services?
    • You provide us with your credit card details at the time you make the imminent need arrangements, but we don't charge it until you require our services. We keep it safely on file until then.

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    • How does Earth partner with hospice?
    • Earth partners with all types of hospices. Our funeral directors have extensive experience partnering with hospice nurses, doctors and social workers. Our imminent need service is built with hospice families in mind.

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    • How far should I plan in advance for an imminent death?
    • We recommend that you make end-of-life plans as far in advance as possible; doing so gives you peace of mind and allows you to focus on your loved one and more important matters at hand.

Prepaid services (pre-need)

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    • What is a prepaid funeral?
    • A prepaid funeral, sometimes referred to as a pre-need funeral plan, is a funeral that has been planned and paid for ahead of death. Many individuals plan for their funeral decades ahead of their, or their spouse's death, for a multitude of reasons.

      Earth Prepaid allows you to select soil transformation as your funeral choice, and pay for it now so that your family doesn't have to in the future.

      Learn more about Earth Prepaid.

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    • What are the benefits of prepaying for my funeral?
    • The benefits of prepaid funeral plans include:

      - choosing a funeral option that aligns with your beliefs and preferences
      - paying for it now to save money (funeral costs have doubled over the past decade due to inflation and rising funeral costs)
      - easing the emotional and financial burden on family friends (you're making arrangements and prepaying ahead of time so they don't have to)

      Many individuals and couples find that prepaying for their funeral gives them peace of mind, and it's generally recommended as part of end-of-life planning.

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    • How do I know my money is safe?
    • We put your money into an insurance policy for safekeeping. We partner with Homesteaders who are the largest funeral insurance company in the US. Only when you require our services are the funds released to Earth. This means that if something were to happen to Earth, your money is always safe.

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    • What happens if I move?
    • If you move within our service area, you will continue to be covered by your Earth Prepaid plan. If you move outside of our service area, we can transfer your plan to another funeral home of your choosing. Just let us know if you move and change your address.

      We're also working hard to make our services available throughout the United States.

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    • What happens if I die outside your service area or overseas?
    • If you purchase travel protection with your prepaid plan you will be fully covered anywhere in the world. Without travel protection, your family will have to pay domestic or international transport fees. We charge these at cost, but recommend purchasing travel protection to avoid large and unexpected transportation costs.

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    • Can I cancel my prepaid plan?
    • All prepaid plans can be cancelled for a full refund within the first 30 days of purchase. To request a 30 day cancellation, or to cancel outside of the 30 day window, please contact Homesteaders at 800-477-3633 or by email at service@homesteaderslife.com. Their contact hours are Monday - Thursday 6am to 2pm, Friday 6am to 11am Pacific Time.

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    • Can I transfer to another funeral home?
    • Yes. Your money is kept in an insurance policy and can be transferred at anytime.

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    • What does my family do when they require Earth's services?
    • Your family simply calls our 24/7 care team at (877) 327-4109, and we'll guide them through the next steps.

Prepaid payment plans

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    • How is the price calculated?
    • You have the choice to either pay the full package amount upfront, or to split the payment over 36 months. If you choose to pay upfront, it is the exact same price every time. If you choose to split the payment over 36 months, the price will depend on your age. It is ultimately more expensive to pay in installments due to the greater costs in administering an installment plan.

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    • What happens if I pass before I have paid off my payment plan?
    • If the cause of death was an accident, then we will provide your arrangements at no extra cost. If the cause of death was a natural cause/not an accident, then your family may be required to provide additional funds to cover the cost of our services. The level of additional funds required depends on how far into your payment plan you are.

      If you pass within the first 6 months of the policy, then your family will pay the cost of our services minus what you have paid already. If you pass in months 6 to 12 months of your policy, then your family will pay for half the cost of our services. If you pass after month 12 but prior to paying off your plan in full, we will provide our services at no additional cost to your family.

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    • Can I pay off my payment plan early?
    • Yes, you can pay off your payment plan early at any time. Please contact Homesteaders directly at (800) 477-3633 or by email at service@homesteaderslife.com. Their contact hours are Monday - Thursday 6am to 2pm, Friday 6am to 11am Pacific Time.

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    • When will my credit card be charged each month?
    • The date of your original purchase will be the date that your card is charged each month. For example, you purchase on July 17, your card will be charged on the 17th of each month. You will see FUNERAL*HOMESTEADERSL or HOMESTEADERSLIFE on your credit card statement.

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    • What if I'm partially through a payment plan and I stop paying?
    • In most cases, you will still retain some level of benefit even if you stop making payments. To find out the exact amount of the reduced benefit, you can contact Homesteaders at (800) 477-3633 or by email at service@homesteaderslife.com.

      In the event that your policy does lapse and is not reinstated, we can't guarantee that you will be able to receive the same price for our soil transformation services as when you initially purchased a prepaid plan.

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    • What if my credit card on file expires?
    • If your card expires, we are still able to charge the account. You only need to update your credit card information if the account has been closed or the card has been reported stolen.

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    • How do I change the credit card on file?
    • Please contact Homesteaders directly at (800) 477-3633 or by email at service@homesteaderslife.com to change your credit card. Their contact hours are Monday - Thursday 6am to 2pm, Friday 6am to 11am Pacific Time.

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