Spare Some Change?

When I mention the words “life insurance,” people tend to scatter quicker than if I were a sketchy character asking for spare change. And while the holidays are over and the bell-ringers have all gone home, it’s never too late to spare a little change, particularly for your loved ones. As an insurance professional, I can spout statistics and evidence on the importance of life insurance, but I won’t. Instead I’ll let the stories speak for themselves. I have worked with these three women and want to share their stories of “spared change.” (I have changed their names to maintain their privacy.)

Erin came to work for me while she was in high school. She had moved to the Chicagoland area from Memphis four years earlier, not because she made the choice, but because “life happened” and the choice was made for her. While driving home from her grandparent’s funeral the day after Christmas, a drunk driver hit the car she was in head-on killing both of her parents. She and her two brothers went to live with their aunt and uncle, who already had three children. Their family had doubled overnight and so did the responsibilities. But because her parent’s had ample life insurance, Erin and her brothers were able to stay together and were “spared the change” of missing out on all the positive things that the future held, such a private college education. Of course, nothing can replace the loss of a parent, but Erin did not have to lose the promising future her parents would have wanted for her.

Tammy came to work for me about a year ago. She hadn’t planned to move back to the Chicagoland area either. Tammy was living in sunny Arizona with her husband of eight years. They had just taken a slice of the American dream by starting their own business. Their business was starting to pick up as they were settling into their lives together. One night, however, Tammy woke up to find that her husband’s preexisting heart condition had taken a fatal toll. Tammy tried to save him while calling 911, but there nothing she could do. He died on April 15; he was up for life insurance eligibility on May 17. Tammy was left with business loans, a mortgage and no life insurance. In the midst of mourning the loss of her husband, she had to make the difficult decision of moving out the home they had built together. “When he had been able to get life insurance, he didn’t think he needed it,” Tammy said. Tammy was not “spared change” in her life. When I asked Tammy what she would say to people about her experience, she stated firmly, “Even if you don’t think you need life insurance, you do.”

Anne, a bright spirit, worked for me while getting her college degree. Always smiling, she was the kind of person that lit up a room. Anne had talked about getting herself a life insurance policy for some time. She told me, “My parents think I don’t need it,” but decided to get the policy anyway. Ten days after we completed the application, Anne died in a car accident. The life policy was validated. A few days after the accident I spoke with Anne’s mother who said, “If it weren’t for this policy, we wouldn’t have enough money to bury my daughter.” Anne was a 22-year-old woman with no kids, no husband and no major assets. Yet, through her choice, she was able to “spare some change” for her own parents.

How will you spare some change for your loved ones in 2011?

Beth Budreck, CLU, has a BS in finance and has been running her Chicago-area State Farm agency for over 21 years. She is married with two children, a boy who is 7 and a girl who is 8.

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