Are You a 48%’er?
While it might not be the kind of awareness month that gets decorations, a parade, or its own special greeting card, September is Life Insurance Awareness Month, and it is definitely something our country needs more awareness of considering only 52% of Americans report having any life insurance. Of those 52% of Americans, 41% of them say they don’t think they have enough. That’s a lot of families, that will have a hard time covering, not just the cost of a funeral, but any debts or on-going expenses. Life insurance is one of the most basic financial tools available, it’s like having a hammer in your toolbox.
In the spirit of Life Insurance Awareness month, I’d like to bring to light some of the consequences of not having, or not having enough life insurance. It’s easy to push these sorts of things to the side, but I truly believe planning for and taking care of one’s family is of the utmost importance.
This may come as a shock, but when you die your paycheck stops! That means if your spouse wasn’t working, he or she will have to find work, and in the meantime, they could be incurring debts as the bills pile up.
Now, just because your income disappears doesn’t mean your debts do too. Unfortunately, debts sticks around until they are paid off. If you have any debts at the time of your passing, without life insurance it may be very difficult for your family to cover them. For example, if you were still paying on your mortgage when you passed away, and there was no life insurance to provide money for your family’s needs, it may force your family to sell and relocate during an already difficult time.
Aside from providing future income for your family there are end of life costs to consider. The average funeral costs between $7,000 and $12,000 (this excludes the cost of a burial plot). If you don’t have life insurance, that amount could sink a struggling family. Years ago when I started in this business, a friend/church leader and I had a conversation, he was a mortician by profession. He said, “Wendell the thing I hate most about my job is putting a family in debt to bury a loved one, especially a child.”
Life insurance, creates an instant estate or pot of money. According to the Lending Club, 60% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, which means there’s little chance of a substantial savings or nest egg being left to those families. Even with retirement savings, there is most likely not enough money when the bread winner passes away. It would be better to cut back on retirement savings and have some extra life insurance, at least while children are in the home. Life insurance gives your family the ability to plan for their future; without it they may end up in a desperate situation.
So how much life insurance do you need? That will be different for each family. However, there are some guidelines that can help you establish your own family’s needs. Most experts recommend having at least ten times your annual income as a starting point. At the very minimum, your coverage should allow for funeral costs and other end of life expenses, as well as any debts you currently have. As you age the reasons for life insurance often change.
Purchasing a life insurance policy is a proactive strategy, a way to protect your loved ones. It allows your survivors freedom from debt and a solid foundation to build their finances on. It certainly blessed my mother when my father passed away when I was a sophomore in college. It’s a light to your family during one of their darkest moments.
“The protection of a man’s person is more sacred than the protection of property.”
– Thomas Paine