Life Insurance and The Day My World Collapsed

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Insurance-it’s a crazy thing. It’s the one thing you pay for and pray that you don’t have to use. Auto insurance protects our cars, home insurance our houses, health insurance our health and wellness…and then there’s life insurance. This is arguably the most important insurance of all because it doesn’t protect our health or possessions but our families and our legacy.

My Story

May 9, 1999: A few days earlier my healthy, 35-year old husband had a mild heart attack. He spent the night in the hospital and they released him the next day after scheduling a stress test for a few weeks later. May 9th was a Sunday and Mother’s Day. Rick woke me up and said he was having chest pains. We called an ambulance but it went downhill quickly and by the time the ambulance came they had to resuscitate him on our living room floor. They took him to the hospital and I waited for a friend to come and pick up our two young sons so I could race to the hospital and be with him. The hospital staff were working desperately to save his life when I got there so I didn’t get to see him.

We were living in Wichita, Kansas and our family was all in Louisville so I made phone calls to our family to let them know what was going on. It wasn’t long before two doctors came down the hallway with a young nurse, who was obviously scared to death. I knew what they were going to tell me as soon as I saw them. My coping mechanism at the time was focusing on that scared girl, who was probably even younger than I was, because I could tell it was the first time she had to be present when a wife was told her husband had died.

The next few hours and days and months were chaotic and gut-wrenching. Rick’s parents and my mom and aunt drove to Wichita that night to be with us and help make arrangements to bring us all back to Louisville. Our boys were 6 months and 2 1/2 years old at the time. I was a mess. I’d just lost the love of my life and I was 25 years old. I suddenly had to make funeral arrangements and deal with all the next steps that needed to be taken, which included figuring out life insurance policies and obtaining death certificates, negotiating with my company to transfer back to our hometown and determining where we were going to live now.

We had life insurance through Rick’s work but it was the minimal life insurance that the company paid for. The amount was one and half times his salary, less than $60,000. I distinctly remember asking Rick when I was filling out paperwork for my own company’s open enrollment if I needed to get additional life insurance on him and we decided against it since his company paid for a policy already. We were young and healthy and naive. $60,000 doesn’t go far after paying for a funeral and burial and considering we’d suddenly lost more than half our income.

Who Needs Life Insurance

Obviously you need life insurance if you have a family with children. You definitely want to make sure that you can replace your salary if something were to happen but what about the stay-at-home parent? Some people think a life insurance policy isn’t necessary for the parent that stays home since they don’t have an actual salary to replace but consider if something were to happen to them. Who will take care of the children and household then? There will be costs associated with suddenly needing to pay for childcare or someone to take manage the household. Couples that don’t have children should also still consider a policy since most households today could not function at their current standard of living if they were to suddenly lose one income.

Term Life Insurance

Don’t be naive like we were, it’s easy to make sure that your family is protected. Term life insurance is inexpensive, especially if you’re young and relatively healthy. I currently pay $250 a year for $500,000 in coverage. My policy is through my insurance company, USAA, and I just filled out some simple paperwork and they sent a representative out to take a blood sample from me when I applied for the policy and now it’s just a matter of making sure I pay my premium every year. I chose a 20-year term policy so my premiums will remain the same for 20 years.

No one wants to think about a tragedy occurring but sometimes they do. People get sick, accidents happen, and lives can shatter in an instance. Life insurance can at least take the financial burden off your family’s plate if something bad does happen. For less than $5 a week, I can rest easy knowing that my boys have some financial cushion in their lives if I’m not here.

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8 Responses to Life Insurance and The Day My World Collapsed

  1. Patty says:

    Great point about making sure the stay-at-home partner is insured. When you start attaching an actual dollar value to the services they (hopefully) provide – cooking, cleaning, household maintenance, errands, childcare, eldercare, pet care – it’s clear that many are under-insured.

    • Holly says:

      Exactly! I think a lot of people would be amazed at what the dollar amount would be to outsource the typical stay-at-home parent’s responsibilities.

  2. The CFO says:

    Great point not to be taken lightly. Sad story but just a wake up call. I got life insurance just two years ago (45 years old with two young kids). It costs a bit every year but happy I have it and Happy to know that if anything happens at least my wife and kids will be secure.
    Thanks for sharing

    • Holly says:

      I think sometimes people think they can’t afford life insurance but it’s relatively cheap, especially if you’re young and fairly healthy. One of those things you should gladly pay for and pray you never use.

  3. OFG says:

    I’m sorry for your loss. The same is true for disability insurance. I suffered from an unforeseen medical issue at 27 that nearly killed me. As soon as I got better I investigated a disability policy for my 28 year old husband who didn’t have one through his work. You never know what might happen in life. It’s best to be prepared even for those of us who are so young we cannot imagine such a scenario.

    • Holly says:

      I agree. I stress the importance of insurance to my kids, who will soon be graduating from college, and just about anyone who will listen. Young people especially think they’re invincible and like both of us discovered, we’re not…

  4. Love this! Life insurance is so important! Young people often think that life insurance is something they can get when they’re older. Luckily, my husband and I have a great friend who is our financial advisor and he recommended I get a life insurance policy when my husband and I got married. We only got a $100,000 policy and didn’t make any changes to my policy as my income grew (despite the recommendations from our friend and financial advisor). I was young and healthy! I could add more insurance when we had more money or when we had kids. A year later I was diagnosed with stage III ovarian cancer and now I cannot add any additional life insurance no matter the cost for at least 10 years from my diagnosis. At least we have that original policy, but it’s far less than we would have liked now that we have two young boys. I tell everyone they need to get a life insurance policy in their 20’s. I was 29 at my diagnosis- you never know what could happen tomorrow!

    • Holly says:

      Exactly. My husband and I had a conversation the year he died when I had open enrollment at my work and I asked if I needed to get a policy on him and we decided not to since his work provided a policy on him. Hindsight is always 20/20. What a difference even a little more would have made in our lives.

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