My dad’s life insurance was my security blanket when he died

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  • My father was an active, healthy man until he developed Lou Gehrig’s disease. When he died two years after his diagnosis, his life insurance meant my family didn’t have to worry financially while we grieved.
  • Despite this, I still had no life insurance for myself. At the time, I didn’t have anyone dependent on my income, so I thought I didn’t need it.
  • But once I got pregnant with my first child, my husband and I immediately bought policies. Now I pay about $1600 a year for peace of mind.
  • Life insurance will never be cheaper than it is today. Lock in your rate with Policygenius »

Nothing in life is predictable. I learned this truth when my father, a healthy 55-year-old athlete, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2009. The illness was quick; my father died two years after his diagnosis.

For many people, the unexpected loss of a dynamic family member will bring financial stability issues. My father was, after all, the head of our family and the one responsible for managing our financial future.

But he was also wise. When he was much younger, he had invested in a life insurance policy. When he died, that meant no one had to worry about his survival in the days, weeks, months, and years after his death.

When you’re busy picking up the pieces from the loss of a loved one, financial survival can be low on the priority list. I was lucky not to have to sort through anything beyond my own grief.

However, death can seem remote when you are between 20 and 30 years old. Life insurance for myself wasn’t really something I considered after my father died. Nobody was counting on me for their survival, after all. So what does it matter?

Becoming a parent changed everything

I haven’t started to think about life insurance in a significative way until I got pregnant myself. Suddenly my life was all about me. How was I going to support a baby if my husband, our primary breadwinner, died? How would he pay for childcare without my income, in case something happened to me?

The world before having children seems full of possibilities. And while becoming a parent is joyful, emotional, and unprecedented, it’s also tinged with a bit of darkness.

While the impending specter of death seems distant to an average 30-something, that specter seems much more real once babies enter the scene.

At night, I pondered what would happen if one of us died, cataloging unlikely scenarios, plagued by the worst urges to predict tragedy. We are healthy parents. But my father too. Didn’t we need a safety net?

And so, my husband and I embarked on a journey to secure life insurance policies. Because we were a little older — 36 and 41 — whole life insurance policies were not an option.

Whole life insurance remains in effect for a person’s lifetime, assuming you pay your premiums. Once the insured dies – no matter how many years pass in between – the policy pays out to the beneficiaries. At our age, all of life was just too expensive.

Term life insurance, on the other hand, is a type of insurance that provides coverage for a set period of time. It is a cheaper option, especially for older people.

Life insurance is loosely based on life expectancy, so the older you are (and the more health problems you develop), the more expensive your policy is. Considering our situation and the fact that we became parents a little later in life, term insurance policies suited us perfectly.

Life insurance gives me peace of mind

I can’t be sure, in motherhood, that I always have the answers, just as I can’t be sure that I always have the same amount of money in my bank account. Situations change. Professions change. The only thing I know for sure, now that I’m a parent, is uncertainty.

But, even though I don’t necessarily know where I will be in 10 years, or what our lives will be like, I know that my children will be protected, even if I am not there.

I took out a $2 million life insurance policy, hoping that the money, if needed, could cover my children’s college education, as well as help them care for them without me here.

It’s a 30-year term, and due to my general good health and age, my premium is $134 per month, or just over $1,600 per year. I choose to pay the premium annually because it saves me some money, but I put money aside each month in a savings account.

It may seem macabre to imagine how my children’s lives will go on without their parents. We all want the best for our children, and imagining worst-case scenarios sometimes feels like a spiral of unnecessary fear.

But, as someone who has lost a parent prematurely, I also know that the untamed grief that accompanies the loss should not come with additional unsolvable problems.

No matter how old they are, whether they are 3, 13 or 33, I want my children to be able to survive once I am no longer there to take care of them. Providing them with security coverage in the form of life insurance helps me sleep a little better at night.

And so now, no matter what our financial life looks like, or how much we are – or aren’t – able to save, I’m confident that my kids (there are two of them now) will be fine.

Being a parent is a scary and difficult experience. For me, life insurance is the security coverage that makes everything a little less scary.

Term life insurance will never be cheaper than it is today. Lock in your rate with Policygenius »

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