You may know Anthony Anderson from his hit TV show black-ish and as host of Eating America, but this actor and comedian is front and center this month promoting the power of life insurance as Life Happens’ spokesperson for Life Insurance Awareness Month. Here he opens up to us about life and life insurance.
Life insurance is usually seen as a pretty serious business. Why is someone famous for their sense of humor the spokesperson for Life Insurance Awareness Month?
Anthony Anderson: For the free insurance! Just kidding! All joking aside. I’ve seen what happens to families that don’t have life insurance. I just buried a childhood friend who had no life insurance, so we all had to come together and help bury him and take care of his family. And his story is not unlike many stories across this nation about people who don’t have life insurance.
Over 100 million Americans don’t have life insurance. That’s why I’m a part of this—to spread the word and to bring awareness to these people and these communities to let them know it’s about being prepared and taking care of your family.
What was your first experience with life insurance?
Anthony: That would be Mary. We just called her The Insurance Lady. She was a fixture at our house growing up. She made sure my parents had life insurance and would stop by a couple of times a year to check up on us. She also sold me my first policy when I was 18. So, my experience with life insurance growing up was basically something that prepared us in the event that one of our parents passed away to make sure our future was secure.
You have no idea what tomorrow will bring, but we can deal with it today and today we’re talking about life insurance.
Your parents set a great example. Is that something you’ve carried on with your children?
Anthony: I’ve certainly shared the life lesson that you’ve got to plan for the future. I’m leading by example, too. I’ve increased my life insurance coverage as my financial circumstances have changed. What runs through my head is this: How much life insurance do I need so my family wouldn’t have to struggle if something happened to me. I think that applies to anyone, no matter what their income or background.
What do most Americans not know about life insurance?
Anthony: That it’s an investment in the future of their family. If something happens to the head of the household, that family falls apart. But if they have life insurance, that family can stay together and continue with their lifestyle. I think that’s a misconception we need to clear up for people who really don’t know.
Many people say that they just can’t afford life insurance. What would you say to them?
Anthony: Listen, I grew up in Compton. We didn’t have a lot of money, but my parents made life insurance a priority. They paid that bill to make sure their family was protected. I just don’t understand people who will grab a latte and whip out their smartphone, and then say they can’t swing $15 or $30, or whatever some basic life insurance might cost them each month.
People also think that a disease like diabetes would make them ineligible to get life insurance coverage, but that’s not necessarily true, is it?
Anthony: I have Type 2 Diabetes and have gotten life insurance. It’s all about managing your disease. I exercise and eat right—well most of the time at least! So with the work I put in and with my doctor’s help it’s under control. I encourage everyone to get healthy—for their sake and their family’s sake. In many cases, you can still get life insurance if you’re staying as healthy as possible and controlling your disease.
Unfortunately, your father died of complications from diabetes, and your younger brother was tragically killed in an accident when he was in his 20s. How did life insurance come into play?
Anthony: Losing the people you love is never easy—it’s devastating. But why make it so much worse by throwing financial problems on top of it all? My dad and brother both had life insurance, which came through for us during that really, really tough time.
Any parting advice?
Anthony: The message I’d like leave people with is that you’ve got to plan for the future. You have no idea what tomorrow will bring, but we can deal with it today—and today we’re talking about life insurance. If you get life insurance, then the future of your family is taken care of.