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Here’s what: I had life insurance when I needed it most
I was about 40 hours into labor with my son when I spiked a really high fever. Apparently it was not normal and I suddenly required a lot of monitoring and medication. Along with the fever came additional scary symptoms, like debilitating nausea and near-total loss of my voice.
I was pretty out of it, and could barely speak above a whisper, but I called my husband close to deliver a message: There’s life insurance; don’t forget about it if anything happens to me.
I reminded him where I keep our policy documents, and how to access our savings and my retirement funds. I was lucid when it came to our money; I needed to make sure he knew the plan.
Thankfully, I survived it all (though I never did find out what caused the fever and other symptoms). But in those terrifying moments, when I felt I may be nearing my life’s end, a small saving grace was knowing I’d put the right protections in place to care for my family financially if the unthinkable happened.
I bought a policy large enough to cover our mortgage
A year earlier, my husband and I had bought our first home, and right away I bought a life insurance policy that was worth slightly more than our mortgage. If I died, I thought, my husband could use the money to pay off our house then have some to live on while he grieved and figured out what to do next.
I didn’t expect to be thinking about it just 12 months later, but such is life.
My $250,000, 20-year term life insurance policy, from Bestow, costs me $16.25 a month. If I weren’t an obsessive bank-account checker I would never notice the automatic payment leaving my account; it’s painless. But in that very dark moment during my labor, it was a light.
These days, I preach the gospel of life insurance to anyone who will listen. I am 35, so it’s a real mixed bag among my friends — some have had coverage for years, while others have never thought about it.
For folks in privileged positions like mine — earning good salaries, with healthy retirement savings accounts — I think term life is a fine option indeed. It’s affordable for me, and it will cover my family for the next two decades while our son is growing up and we’re paying off our home.
By the time I’m in my 50s, when the policy expires, we’ll be in the last decade of our 30-year mortgage, and my hope is that we’ll have more than enough savings and investments to cover the house if something happens to either one of us.
For others, permanent life insurance is a better option. It’s more expensive, but many types of permanent insurance have a cash-value component, which can be a nest egg in retirement or a generational wealth-building tool.
Whatever your situation, life insurance is a good idea for most people. It’s the one thing in my budget I’m happy to pay for and hope I never have to use.
— Stephanie Hallett, senior editor of Personal Finance Insider
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