Stories by Rosemary Onuoha
Insurance is a way of managing risks. When you buy insurance, you transfer the cost of a potential loss to the insurance company in exchange for a fee, known as the premium.
People need insurance for a variety of reasons. In some cases insurance is required by law; however, there are policies that, though not mandatory to have, do give you necessary protections should you suffer a financial loss. And when you do have an insurance policy, there are certain rights and protections you have under law. Different stages of your life will require different insurance needs, so it is important to review your policies at least once a year to make sure you have the best policy to fit your lifestyle.
To figure out if you need life insurance, you need to think through the worst-case scenario. If you die tomorrow, how would your loved ones fare financially? Would they have the money to pay for your final expenses (e.g., funeral costs, medical bills, taxes, debts, lawyers’ fees, etc.)? Would they be able to meet ongoing living expenses like the rent or mortgage, food, clothing, transportation costs, healthcare, etc? What about long-range financial goals? Without your contribution to the household, would your surviving spouse be able to save enough money to put the kids through college or retire comfortably?
The truth is, it’s always a struggle when you lose someone you love. But your emotional struggles don’t need to be compounded by financial difficulties. Life insurance helps make sure that the people you care about will be provided for financially, even if you’re not there to care for them yourself.
Life insurance becomes increasingly important when you get married or have children. Typically, a death is not only emotionally difficult, but the loss of a significant source of income can leave your loved ones facing an additional financial burden. Life insurance is often just an afterthought after more rewarding financial obligations are taken care of, but it is one of the most important. If you don’t have enough life insurance, you could put your family in a difficult situation upon your death.
When you need life insurance
If you don’t have a spouse or any dependants, you may not need much, if any life insurance at all. In this situation, when you pass, you probably aren’t leaving anyone behind that relies on your income. Even so, you may still want some very basic coverage to ease the family’s pain by covering final funeral expenses.
Life insurance should be purchased if you are considering starting a family. Your rates will be cheaper now than when you get older and your future children will be depending on your income. If you have a family that depends on you, you need life insurance now.
Young single adults: The reason a single adult would typically need life insurance would be to pay for their own funeral costs or to help support an elderly parent or other persons they may care for financially. Otherwise, if one has other sources of money for funeral and has no other persons that depend on their income then life insurance would not be a necessity.
Things to consider
What immediate financial expenses will your family face upon your death? How much of your salary is required to meet your current expenses? If you were to die tomorrow, how long would your dependants need as financial support? How much, if any, would you want to leave behind to fund your child’s education, giving to charities, or leave an inheritance?
Consider your needs
There is no right or wrong answer to how much insurance you need as your values and goals will ultimately determine what is right for you. For some people this could mean enough coverage so that their spouse would never have to work again, while for others it may mean just enough to pay off outstanding debts. Whatever you decide, your loved ones will appreciate it in the unfortunate event that it is needed. If you die during your earning years, your family could suffer a severe economic loss as a result of losing your current and future income. Unfortunately, your family would still have to pay its regular bills, the mortgage, and outstanding debts, and perhaps even continue saving for college and retirement. Unless you’re independently wealthy, achieving these goals may be virtually impossible for your family with the loss of your steady income. Life insurance offers a way for your family to continue living comfortably and without worry.