According to a nationwide independent study, over a third of respondents, if they had a life insurance policy, didn’t know what kind of policy they had. And though 70% felt confident that their insurance companies would pay out if the need arose, only 34% felt sure that they would know how to collect a payout.
Do you fall into this confused category? If so, it’s crucial to educate yourself about life insurance, especially if you have people who depend on you (like kids), or have a mortgage or significant amount of debt.
1. I Wish I’d Gotten Life Insurance Before I Got Pregnant
I knew that having our first child meant that getting life insurance should be a top priority for both me and my husband. We researched policies, got a quote for an affordable term life insurance policy and had our medical exams. Imagine my surprise when, a few weeks later, the agent called me back and told me my new “adjusted” rate.
The cost of my policy had gone from a reasonable monthly fee they’d quoted me—to nearly four times that amount. The reason, he said, was that my cholesterol levels were high. I called my doctor in a panic. “Cholesterol levels always spike during pregnancy,” she reassured me, “and they probably won’t be back to normal until a few months after you give birth.”
After doing some research, I found that it’s nearly always better to get a life insurance policy before you get pregnant to avoid potential price hikes brought on by temporary conditions during pregnancy. While some companies will account for the fact that you gained weight due to the pregnancy, factors like higher blood pressure or postpartum depression can also affect your ability to get the best rates.
Now my daughter is three months old, and I’m still waiting for my numbers to dip before starting again. I really wish I’d known to start this process when trying to conceive instead.
2. I Wanted to Put Off Getting Life Insurance—But My Husband Didn’t
When I married James* in 1978, I was 21 years old. I never could have imagined then that I’d be a widow by 26, or that I’d have a 9-month-old baby to take care of on my own.
As soon as we became pregnant, James started talking about life insurance—but I was hesitant. I was 24, but James was already thinking like an adult. It’s not that I wasn’t an adult; the topic of life insurance was just scary. I was pregnant with our yet-to-be-born child, and the last thing I wanted to think about was one of us dying.
James passed away on a Tuesday in March. The weekend before, we’d had an especially good time together. That Monday evening, my neighbour came over to watch a show. James sat with us but left early and was already asleep when I joined him later.
The next morning, he left for work without me seeing him. Whether he kissed me goodbye while I slept, I’ll never know. I had a hair appointment with the woman across the street. I was sitting in a chair in her basement when I heard footsteps coming down the stairs. I turned to see my brother, Paul, who, like James, was a construction worker. He looked at me and said, “Cathy, we have to go.”
I remember him pulling me out of the chair, and driving to the hospital. My first words were, “How bad?”He just squeezed my hand. When we arrived at the ER, the other construction workers were there. It was hard for them to look at me—and that’s when I knew.
My story is a reminder that once you have a family—no matter your age—life insurance is absolutely essential.