what’s the deal with life insurance?

And now a break to talk about a sponsor…

I am aging at a shockingly rapid rate, I am married, and I just bought a house … so I am thinking about things like life insurance.

Yes, life insurance. What is the deal with life insurance anyway?

The basics are this: If you have people who depend on you for financial support, you presumably want to ensure that they’re taken care of when you exit this mortal coil. Life insurance can help provide some financial security when you’re gone.

Some signs that you should be considering life insurance are:

  • You’re married with shared financial obligations.
  • You have kids or are about to have kids.
  • You have other family members who rely on you financially.
  • You have significant cosigned debt, like student loans, a mortgage, or a car loan, that would fall to your partner or a co-signer to pay off if you die.

Or, you could always just use this life insurance calculator to determine if you indeed need it.

People often assume that if they have life insurance through work, they’re covered and don’t need to think more about it. Many employers do offer some term life insurance coverage as part of your benefits, but usually these work-sponsored plans equate to only one to two times your base salary. In other words, if you make $60,000 and you’re covered at two times your salary, your beneficiary would receive, at most, a $120,000 payout upon your death. That can sound like a lot of cash, but if you’re married with kids, it would go quickly. In two years, your partner would be supporting the kids on a single salary. That’s why most experts suggest coverage of five to 10 times your salary.

Haven Life, the sponsor of this post, is one place to go to get affordable, high-quality term life insurance. They’re a startup, backed by a MassMutual, that lets you easily apply online, get a decision right away, and, if approved, start coverage immediately. The whole process can be done in a matter of minutes (traditional life insurance companies typically take four to six weeks to get a final decision and won’t let you do it online). A 20-year, $500,000 Haven Term policy could cost a healthy 35-year-old woman about $19 per month.

Life insurance gets more expensive to purchase as you get older. So it’s smart to set it up now if you’re going to do it (because the rate you sign up at now will stay the same for the duration of your policy’s term) and save yourself money in the long-run. You can get a free, no-obligation quote here.

Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC15DTC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC.

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{ 155 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Carolyn*

    I didn’t realize I needed life insurance to cover the (substantial) cosigned debt I have! With a working spouse and no kids, it didn’t seem necessary to get more than what I have through work. Thanks, Alison.

  2. NPOQueen*

    Being a single lady finally has it’s benefits! I have a mortgage and credit card debt, but it’s under no one’s name but my own. And unless I have massively misunderstood US debt law (which is possible, honestly), that debt goes with me when I pass.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I’m pretty sure your credit card debt can be assessed to your next of kin (i.e., whoever inherits your estate).

      1. LawPancake*

        It will come out of the estate, so if they were going to inherit 100k but you have 20k of debt they’ll only get 80k. But if you die with 10k in assets and 20k in credit card debt, your heirs won’t get anything but they won’t be on the hook for the additional 10k (unless they’re on the card or have cosigned etc).

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          It depends on the probate rules for your State. I live in a State where the method of probate you choose can attach debt beyond the estate to a person’s heirs.

          1. fposte*

            Can you elucidate, PCBH? I’m familiar with this with the doctrine of necessaries, but that’s usually only spouses anyway, and it sounds like you’re talking something beyond this. What kind of debt can you get stuck with in California?

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Please see my response, below! But here’s a short/different element:

              Federal law limits transferring debt to the heirs of an estate unless there’s a legal framework/obligation that provides otherwise. But California is a community property state, which generally means that spouses/RDPs are on the line for all debts contracted during the marriage (even if the spouse/RDP’s name is not on the account/debt). Of course there are tons of caveats based on a person’s individual circumstances, but it can be a really awful process trying to fight that debt if the assets of the estate are insufficient to cover it. The most common forms of debt I see pass along are private (non-cosigned) student loans, auto loans, and credit cards.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                Oh, also underwater mortgages. Those are the most painful ones to see pass along.

              2. fposte*

                Ah, okay; I was thinking of kids, so it makes more sense to me that it’s spouses and partners. Still would be unpleasant, as you note.

                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  Kids can inherit debt, too, but usually it’s in the form of underwater properties (i.e., mortgage debt). But they’re not on the hook for credit card debt, etc.

      2. fposte*

        A phraseology nitpick, since I’ve been there and threaded this needle–technically, the debt is applied to the estate before it’s inherited rather than being actually inherited itself; the next of kin him/herself doesn’t inherit the actual debt or owe it if there’s not enough in the estate to cover it.

        So basically it’s still only the dead person who owes the money; it’s just that the dead person’s paying of the money can affect what the next of kin receives.

        1. NPOQueen*

          The fun part for me is that unless my sister has kids, I have no next of kin. The only group that would get anything is my alma mater, who I’ve written into my estate. Obviously this doesn’t mean I’m going to spend my lifetime racking up debt, but I could…

          Still, good to know that any of my debt will be taken from the foreclosure of my property. That’s really helpful to know.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I have seen this one get wrinkly. I knew of a daughter who decided she wanted to keep her late father’s home, as she was living in it. In order to get the home she had to take on the debt that would have been paid off by the sale of the home if the home had stayed with the estate. Sadly, she agreed to the debt load, turned and gathered more of her own debt and the story went down hill from there.

          With my own father’s home, the estate ran out of money before the house was sold. I couldn’t pay the taxes on the property. Fortunately, I wanted to sell the house while it was still part of the estate and I had no interest in keeping it. The tax collector sat at the closing table with me to get his slice of the pie. I was not happy about that, but the situation could have been much worse, so I was grateful that the mess was easily resolved with the sale of the house.

      3. 2 Cents*

        Not necessarily. It’s considered unsecured debt, so it doesn’t necessarily have to be paid by the heirs. Or at least that’s what happened when a relative passed away in NYS for my family.

      4. K, Esq.*

        In Maryland, your solely owned credit card debt can only go against your estate. Life insurance with a beneficiary designation passes outside the estate and is not subject to your debts like credit cards, student loans, mortgages, etc.

    2. ENFP in Texas*

      The amount owed to your mortgage and credit card companies will come out of your estate – it’s not just forgiven. Debts are paid out of the estate before any beneficiaries receive anything.

    3. Nan*

      It goes to your estate. The creditors will have a limited time to file claims (depends where you live) and it will be paid from the estate. Then the leftovers will be distributed to whoever is named in your will/next of kin.

  3. Fine Dining Porkchops*

    I just took out a $50,000 policy on my college age son; since we’re co-signing his loans.

    1. K, Esq.*

      Federal student loans are discharged with the death of the student. Private loans vary, so read the fine print carefully.

  4. the gold digger*

    Please get life insurance. I used to work for a company that sold employee benefits, including life insurance. I had an account where they provided only $5,000 flat life insurance per employee. I tried to get them to go to 2x salary, but the accountant who was my contact said the owner would never go for it.

    The accountant was also my friend. He was only 32 years old with a new baby. He discovered he had stomach cancer and was dead within a few months.

    With only a $5,000 group life policy.

    He left a widow and a little baby with just $5,000 because he didn’t have his own life insurance (and once you have a cancer diagnosis, nobody will sell you life insurance) and because his employer was so cheap.

    This happened almost 30 years ago and it still makes me sick to my stomach. I should have pushed harder to get that account to increase the insurance.

    1. Horrified*

      Please consider (very, very seriously consider) disability insurance. As an adult of working age, you are much more likely to experience a disability than death. So I agree, life insurance is a must, but so is disability ins.

      I have two self-employed friends who life-insured up the wazoo. Then the husband was in a motor vehicle accident that left him with a catastrophic brain injury. So during the months and months he was in hospital, they had close to zero income. Disability insurance would have rescued them in this case.

      1. Anxa*

        I must say, I have no dependents. I am unmarried, no children. I may never be married, may never have children. I’m on the fence on the latter. I have a very limited income and my partner could do without it. In fact, he’d probably make out better financially, because he could get roommates that could pay closer to market rate. I don’

        But in the event that we break up? And I can’t work? Yeah, I really should look into that.

        Maybe one day life insurance, too.

        1. Chinook*

          “I must say, I have no dependents. I am unmarried, no children. I may never be married, may never have children. I’m on the fence on the latter. I have a very limited income and my partner could do without it.”

          To me, you sound like the type of person who doesn’t need life insurance unless you wanted to leave a cushion for your partner. But a disability will always come with extra costs, not just a loss of income.

        2. GreyjoyGardens*

          Even if you don’t have dependents – if you have pets, especially pets that will be difficult to find homes for, you might want the life insurance anyway.

          I am single, no kids, but I do have cats. Fortunately, the no-kill shelters where I got them from will take them back when I die, no questions asked, and I have a friend who will see to it that the kitties are taken care of. And I have money now that I can will to the shelters as a legacy to guarantee my cats a place.

          But – I remember my working poor days when I had cats, who came from friends not shelters, and my family and close friends were full up with all the pets they could handle, or couldn’t take cats, or or or. And I had no money to leave a hefty legacy to a no-kill to guarantee my cats a place (it would have added up to five figures for three elderly cats). Life insurance could have filled the gap, and if I had worked for a place that offered it, I’d have taken out a policy to care for my cats after my death.

          I urge pet owners, especially those who have elderly or hard to place pets (pits and kits!) to consider life insurance.

          1. the gold digger*

            You have already done this, but anyone else, please make provisions for your pets. Primo asked his parents a few years before they died what their plans were for their two cats. Sly told Primo that Primo and I could take them. Primo told Sly that was not an option – that we already had two cats. (My sister’s instructions for Laverne and Shirley are to return them to the Siamese cat rescue place where we got them and to give the organization a $3,000 donation from our estate.)

            Fast forward to his parents’ death two years ago. They had done nothing – they had made no arrangements for the cats. (Nor had they created files of their important financial documents. Or updated their will and trust. Or made any kind of funeral plans. Or done anything at all that would have made it easier for Primo to take care of things after they died.)

            Even including finding their porn stash (photos, equipment, Sly’s sex diary) was not as bad for Primo as trying to re-home the two cats. He did not want to send them to a pet sanctuary and we almost ended up taking them in ourselves (our cats would not have been happy). Fortunately, he was able to place them, but it was a horribly stressful experience for him.

            1. Katie the Fed*

              We put a stipulation in our wills that the executor has to find the pets a new home. The new owner gets a LOT of money to take the dog, and a good amount of money to take each cat (the dog can be far more of a handful). And I’ve told all my friends to take our pets if we pass because they come with a lot of $$

    2. Chinook*

      This goes for Canadians too. Both disability and life insurance are recommended because the government income supplements are just enough to survive on. Plus, if you pay for your own insurance, the benefit is tax free/lower tax rate (I can’t remember which) because it isn’t considered a portion your employee salary/benefits (which it would be if the employer paid the premiums).

      And there is something to be said for knowing that your loved one won’t have to worry about keeping a roof over their head while dealing with your death. It sounds morbid to think of it that way, but life does happen in sometimes the most inconvenient ways.

  5. MI Dawn*

    I used the calculator and based on information I supplied, it says I don’t need any life insurance (I plan on donating my body for science so no funeral costs).

  6. Reinhardt*

    Interesting post. I’m a male in my late twenties, unmarried, no kids. I have credit card debt, but didn’t think about my co-signed student loans. Fortunately, those loans only total about $12k, so what my employer offers would more than cover those. I own a townhouse with enough value to pay off the mortgage, and the credit card debt dies with me.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        Your heirs are not responsible for your debt, but lenders will make them liquidate everything you owned to get whatever they can from your estate.

        Example: my parent very recently passed away with ~$6,000 in credit card debt. Her assets totaled: $3,000 in cash, a computer, a lift chair and a 2004 vehicle. Their first offer was $5,000. When I got done laughing and repeating the entirety of her estate, we settled for $3,500. I sold the computer & the lift chair to make up the difference.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          My understanding is the estate is responsible for your debt, and depending on how the estate is probated, your debt may pass on to your heirs. (E.g., in California, certain forms of probate can pass along debt while others limit debt to the assets of the estate.) But even if it’s assessed against the estate, that can be a massive headache for the estate administrator and your heirs.

          1. fposte*

            Are we still talking about credit card debt or are we getting into the doctrine of necessaries here? It’s California, so for all I know it’s Surfboard Law :-).

            Since we’re talking about life insurance, it’s probably worth noting that life insurance won’t shorten this process for you; it’ll just help offset any debts that you do end up owing. (With my father it really wasn’t a big deal; it just took a couple of months for the medical billing to come through and that was it.)

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Credit card debt! :) Of course this can be different if your card agreement provides otherwise. We have a bunch of different probate methods, including simplified probate procedures for “low-income” estates/families and for spouses/RDPs. But some of those probate procedures transfer the estate’s debt to the individual heirs, while other procedures limit the debt to the estate. As far as I know, the only debt that truly “dies” with the estate are Federal student loans that are not co-signed and mortgages (which are theoretically limited to the property).

              Life insurance of course doesn’t wipe out those debts, but for folks with significant debt burdens (medical, credit card, private student loans), an appropriate policy can really ease the pain of settling the estate for the heirs. And if you have dependents (esp. children or elderly), it can make a huge difference in their ongoing care.

              1. fposte*

                Holy crap, this is surprisingly predatory for California. Is this an avoidable thing or do a lot of people get stuck in this? Will disclaiming the estate get you off the hook?

                1. fposte*

                  Ah, you note above that this is the community property principle in action for spouses and partners, so it’s not the kid getting stuck with Mom’s gambling debts that I had feverishly imagined.

                2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  If Alison will indulge me going way off topic…

                  Disclaiming the estate gets you off the hook if you’re a non-spouse heir (e.g., a child, sibling, etc.). But if you’re a spouse/RDP, and the debt was incurred during marriage, you’ll often end up responsible for whatever debt cannot be paid by the estate. Sometimes those claims can be settled, but I’ve seen people go into bankruptcy when they inherit their deceased spouse’s debts.

                  My perspective is super skewed because I’m a rural legal services attorney who specializes in transactions and community/economic development, so I work almost exclusively with small businesses; nonprofits; coops; and very low, low and moderate-income families (i.e., everyone has to be below 80% of the state’s median household income). So the people who I see get stuck with this are usually low- to moderate-income families whose children have limited access to attorneys and limited knowledge of how probate works. They often have some property, but the estate is usually worth less than $250K. Those folks often don’t know that they should refuse their “inheritance” if the estate/property is underwater, for example.

                  Spouses/RDPs don’t have the same ability to disclaim, but there are some tactics they can attempt to use to insulate their liability if they get a really good attorney. But most low- to moderate-income families don’t have access to good probate attorneys.

                3. fposte*

                  @PCBH–thanks for the explanation–this is fascinating! I’d never thought about this aspect of community property especially, and I can totally see that this is yet another area where the people who most need the financial relief don’t have access to the resources and knowledge that would get it for them.

                4. K, Esq.*

                  But this is only for spouses in California, no? I don’t see any other basis for transferring the debt to a non-spouse non-cosigner other than being in a community property state.

                5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  @K, Esq., it’s spouses and registered domestic partners. In CA, children can also inherit mortgage-related debt if they inherit an underwater property, but all other debt usually is limited to the estate’s assets.

                6. Doreen*

                  @PCBH – what exactly do you mean about the kids inheriting mortage related debt on an underwater property? Because what it sounds like to me is that if I owe $200K on a house that’s only worth $100K , my kids couldn’t get out of paying the whole $200K even if they disclaimed the inheritance and let the lender foreclose. But that can’t be right, can it? ( I know they would have to pay it to keep the house, but to my mind “inheriting the debt” means it’s something I can’t avoid)

  7. Game of Scones*

    I recommend that in addition to a thorough 3rd party policy like this (which is very important to have), that anyone who has the option to enroll for voluntary life insurance at their workplace do so. Most employers that offer a standard life insurance benefit provide an option to increase the coverage on a voluntary basis. The rate is usually very low, so it’s well worth maxing out employer provided coverage.

    1. ENFP in Texas*

      This, this, this. I cannot endorse this enough. If your employer offers term life insurance and you have people who depend on your income, max out whatever your employer offers. Because if something happens to you and your family is suddenly trying to live without your income, they will need that protection.

      If your family has a $1,500 a month mortgage payment and your income is suddenly gone, will your family have enough money to keep paying the mortgage? Or will they have to sell the house because they can’t afford it anymore? It happens more often than you’d think.

      The only reason I was able to stay in my house after my husband died was the fact that he maxed out the life insurance offering from his employer, and I was able to pay down the mortgage with it.

      1. Chinook*

        Does the US have mortgage life insurance? I know that, in Canada, it is an option whenever we get a mortgage (I think it may even be mandatory for certain types).

        1. Doreen*

          It does, but from what I’ve seen regular life insurance is a better deal. Mortgage and credit card life insurance usually pay the lender off directly and only pay the balance owed. Sometimes paying off the mortgage is not the best way to use life insurance proceeds.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Right. In a real life example, I used my husband’s life insurance to pay off the balance of the medical debt, pay for his funeral and make some urgent repairs on things around here. Paying off the mortgage does nothing for the hole in the roof from the storm that tore the shingles off. Priorities shift and that shift happens unexpectedly. Straight life insurance allows a person the flexibility to decide where to put the money in that moment.

            We just don’t know what the future holds, putting our loved ones in a place where they have flexibility is a huge gift.

    2. GreyjoyGardens*

      Yes! And as I noted in a comment above, even if you’re single and have no human dependents, if you have pets, life insurance can provide for them if you die.

      1. K, Esq.*

        Sort of. You’d need an attorney to set up a pet trust since pets can’t be beneficiaries of life insurance.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yep. I know of a person who left 5K to take care of his pets. The problem was that no human alive would want to keep these animals, they were not trustworthy animals. These animals would seem okay and then suddenly attack each other or a person. A terrible decision had to be made.

          Anyway…. if you have pets the ideal thing to do is to ask specific people if they will care for your pet if something happens to you. Putting a general bequest in a will may or may not get your pet the care you want. If the executor decides the situation is not doable, then other things happen.

          I have a dog here that is full of silly antics. He is all about being contrary. This is not a dog that everyone would want. I picked out one friend who does very well with this dog and asked him if he would care for the animal in my place. He quickly agreed that he would care for my dog. I feel pretty certain that there is a solid plan for my dog if it is needed.

  8. MHR*

    I am pretty lucky in that my employer pays for life insurance (double the value of our salary) and you can purchase extra for just a few dollars (and it is portable). Because of this I am insured for 200k and it costs me 8 dollars a month.

    1. Book Lover*

      I have life insurance through employer and could get more, but it isn’t portable and the cost goes up with age. Not dramatic, but between those two things I did get an outside policy, as recommended by my financial guy. No loans, but two young kids, so I got a policy that would last until they are out of school. I hate paying it, but I would hate not paying it, too :)
      Mine is $35/month through Protective Life, did require labs and so on. $600k, fixed for 20 years.
      That is in addition to my work policy, but the idea being that if I left work, I would still have the 600k policy. I think the adviser recommended more, but I don’t plan to leave my work, and if I do and something happens, this is enough to pay for school for them and much more.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It is very wise to get life insurance (if there is a need) from an independent source. The problem with employer based life insurance is that if you leave the job the life insurance goes away. And it is so easy to forget to build a new plan.

        Not directed at Book Lover, just a general comment: Getting basic life insurance on kids is a good idea too. States may have maximum limits on how much insurance you take out. But it’s cheap. And heaven forbid something happen, you don’t want to have to worry about how to pay for a funeral on top of everything else.

        1. MHR*

          The extra that I purchase (100k) follows me if I leave. If it did not I would always recommend to buy elsewhere.

  9. Nan*

    Also of note, as the coverage level goes up, the price usually doesn’t go up in accordance. It’s like buying toliet paper in bulk :) My husband and I don’t make big bank, but we both carry $500K in life insurance. Through our carrier, the $500K policy is less than $1/month more than a $250K policy.

    I would also say, don’t just insure or highly insure the working spouse. My dad was always in worse health than my mom. They both worked, but he made more money than her. The assumption was that he would die first, leaving the house, kids, bills, etc. She passed first, with only about $10K in coverage. That was eaten up by funeral costs. My dad still had to pay for house, cars, medical bills, etc. Lesson – the best laid plans don’t often work out. Plan for either of you to go first.

    Also, shop around. We get an auto/home/life discount. What looks to immediately be the cheapest may not be.

    1. Reinhardt*

      I’ve never planned a funeral so I don’t know everything involved. Is that typical for a funeral to cost $10k?!

      1. ENFP in Texas*

        They can be expensive. Burial plots and interment costs can be surprisingly high. Cremation is somewhat less costly. I thinky husband’s funeral costs (cremated with a service) were $6,000.

      2. Been there*

        There’s so much that goes into the cost of a funeral and burial. Each of these examples are at least in the hundreds, many in the thousands:

        Casket (4 figures even for the cheapest kind)
        Funeral home costs like preserving the body, paying the church, etc.
        Gravesite (4-5 figures)
        Vault/vault liner/cost of opening and closing the vault during burial (4 figures)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Just using the gravestone as an example. We went to go buy a stone. We had four plots, two in front of the stone and two in back of the stone. So the first talking point was, “oh you don’t want a stone that vandals will tip over!” We got the 2 ton stone with matching 1 ton base. A couple of younger people could probably move it, but not without some effort. Next. “You want this type of surface because acid rain wears the stone down.” Ker-ching, ker-ching. Then lettering, it is so much per letter. If you want a design on the stone that is more. Then there is delivery and set up cost. (I am not moving this thing, so I have to pay.)
          Next, “You must get corner markers because this cemetery demands it.” Throw it on the bill, sigh.

          This stone eventually ran into about 3k and that was 30 years ago. I go to the cemetery now, and it is one of the more modest stones in place. I cannot imagine what the cost is now.
          In my family there are a few babies with unmarked graves. Just because there is no money for a stone.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        $10K is on the low end for most normal (non-Cadillac) funerals. It’s also on the low end for cremation.

        1. fposte*

          I would disagree with that for cremation, at least as a national statement; they’re $1-$3k in my state. I think for $10k there’d have to be a Viking ship involved.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Ah, I guess everything is just $$$ in California :) When we cremated my grandmother 15 years ago, the funeral cost about $12K in a rural part of the state. That covered reserving a room at the funeral hall for the prayer ceremony (about 2 hours), plus the cost of cremating her remains separately and ensuring that they were separated into an appropriate urn (those urns are ridiculously overpriced). The cost of a group cremation was about $1.5-3K, but the cost of individual cremation was about $7-8K. There were tons of fees related to disposal of the remains that seemed particular to CA.

            When we cremated my uncle a few years ago in a more urban part of the state, the cost of individual cremation + a funeral space for 2 hours was about $13–15K.

            1. fposte*

              Wow. That is a huge difference. I think the $1k ones don’t necessarily get you funeral space here but the $3k ones definitely do.

              Moral: don’t die in CA. If you’re feeling poorly, hit up the Midwest.

              1. Jerry Vandesic*

                When my mom died, the cremation itself was $1200, and the funeral home time/space was about $4000. This was in Michigan in 2012.

            2. The Cosmic Avenger*

              I paid under $5K for a cremation and funeral in NYC last year, including the service in the chapel and the rabbi’s honorarium.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I have been able to put funerals together for just under 8k. But this is basics only. Use clothes the person already has, buy one of the least expensive caskets, use a church hall for a reception and everyone brings something and so on. If you have to buy a plot and a stone that will definitely put it over 10K.

      4. Reinhardt*

        Wow! I had no idea all that cost so much! Looks like I’m putting ‘no funeral’ into my will, and whatever the least expensive way to dispose of my body is. Probably donating to science?

        1. Amber Rose*

          Never mind the will. We never had a funeral for my mom because we straight up couldn’t afford it, even if she’d wanted one. Maybe she did. I don’t know. The fees just for her death were over $5000. Couldn’t afford a couple G’s for a get-together on top of that.

          Disposal of the body might(?) be free if you donate to science, but if you die anywhere other than the actual morgue, there are fees for removing your body from where it died and moving it to wherever it needs to be. And they aren’t cheap. We got a massive bill from the hospital for them taking mom out of the house, to the hospital and storing it, and then the morgue charged us for taking it from the hospital.

          It’s bitter.

          1. Reinhardt*

            To borrow Alison’s phrase, what the actual F?!

            Fortunately, if something did happen, my employer coverage (1.5x my annual pay) would be enough to cover those.

            1. Amber Rose*

              Mom had just started her new job like, a month prior, so we didn’t get much there. *sigh*
              We got a little and it helped, don’t get me wrong. But there were a lot of bills to sort out.

              Death is a business. An expensive one. :/

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Yup. Those body disposal fees are an amazing salt in the wound. So even if you want to opt out of a funeral, you’re still on the hook for thousands of dollars to appropriately dispose of the body because of Health & Safety laws, transportation costs, morgue fees, etc. It’s vile.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              You have to be licensed to transport a dead body. A relative died out of state. The body had to be moved back to the state and there was a paper trail. It’s beyond the imagination what is involved here.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                I once worked on a case where the airline lost a body (flying it from Italy to the U.S. for burial). There are apparently international treaties about dead bodies, with separate rules if they’re being transported for burial v. scientific research v. ___, etc. The whole thing both makes sense and is at the same time absolutely insane to me.

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          Keep in mind that (from what I’ve read), giving your body to science isn’t always an option. Sometimes they just don’t need what you’re offering.

      5. mrs__peel*

        I still get mail for my late grandmother occasionally– before she died, she had signed up for mailings from a local “Funeral Consumers’ Alliance” listing the costs for various services in the area. It’s quite interesting to see the range of prices! Though it does feel like a rather morbid thing to shop around for…

        I’m not a fan of what I guess you’d call the Funeral Industrial Complex, personally. I’ve told my family I want to be cremated as cheaply as possibly and put in a jar from Big Lots. (Though I’m 37, so hopefully that won’t be anytime soon!)

        1. the gold digger*

          A former boyfriend’s mother had shopped and bid her funeral. When she died, John found the information about where she was to be buried (with receipts). She even left cash to cover the cost of getting death certificates. What a loving thing for a parent to do – to make it as easy as possible for her child to take care of things.

          BTW, Costco sells (or used to sell) corrugated coffins. In some states, even if you are cremated, you still have to buy a coffin. (Thank you, mortician lobby.)

          1. mrs__peel*

            That is a great thing to do! My grandmother decided that she didn’t want a traditional funeral, and set aside some money for us to all have a nice dinner out and chat about her instead. (Which was lovely). She also left my dad some money to cover those types of administrative expenses, and to pay for repairs on the house she lived in.

            I’ve been meaning to read that Jessica Mitford book on “The American Way of Death”– I bet not much has changed since then!

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Extreme planners: A family member even paid for her own flowers. We joked that she did not trust us to buy them for her. She might have been right.

  10. NW Mossy*

    I’ll add that even if you already have life insurance, double-check every 5 years or so to make sure that the coverage is still reasonable and appropriate for your situation in life. Things like getting married/divorced, having kids, buying a home, and significant changes in household income (positive and negative) can all dramatically change your understanding of what’s enough to help you feel secure.

    And a caveat about workplace-provided coverage – know whether or not you can take it with you if you leave that job, because you often can’t. If you rely on it as your sole life insurance coverage, being out of work means more than just lost income. A separate policy you purchase on your own may be desirable simply because it isn’t tied to your employment status.

    1. Chameleon*

      And the cost of insurance for term life is dependent on the age you buy it–so if you buy it at 25 while you are working for Company A, then are laid off at age 30, you are paying much less for the insurance than if you rely on Company A’s insurance at 25 and then have to buy it on your own at 30.

  11. Susan*

    It’s a very good idea to carry at least minimal coverage, because someone is going to be out of pocket when you pass away, even if you do not leave dependents or debt. Someone will have to claim your remains, and make arrangements for them. Even a simple cremation starts at over $1000, and a simple memorial service can cost thousands more. Someone will have to clean out your apartment house or apartment, and pay your rent or your mortgage until that’s done. Often, someone will have to take time off work and perhaps buy a plane ticket to do all these things. Someone will have to obtain your death certificate in order to reasonably discharge your personal debt – that doesn’t happen automatically. In fact, just to sell your car your family will need to obtain a death certificate and have the car retitled. All of this costs money. Someone is going to have to care for your pets, and either find them a new home or take them in. It doesn’t cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, but it can easily cost tens of thousands.

    From the time I first had employer-offered life insurance, I took the benefit and designated my mother as the beneficiary, as I was sure all this would fall to her. I still designate a percentage of the benefit to go to her, as even though I’m now married I’m sure she will do the majority of the work – she is just that way – and I’m sure she won’t take any money directly from my husband for doing so.

    1. fposte*

      While apparently not all of them are reliable, there are arrangements and associations that allow you to prepay for your services, especially cremations. That can keep the cost way down.

      (And be aware that places that accept bodies for donation tend to have very strict rules about what they’ll accept; even the Body Farm has preclusions and requirements that need to be met.)

    2. Amber Rose*

      The car thing isn’t true in where I am! I can sell my neighbor’s car tomorrow, if I want to. I mean, I’ll be arrested for car thievery which is still illegal, but nothing will prevent the sale from going through prior to that.

      It’s funny because when you go to register a car here, you need a signed bill of sale. A bill of sale is anything with two signatures on it agreeing to the sale of a car for a value. So if you forget your official bill of sale, you can have the stranger in line behind you “sell” you your car on a scrap piece of paper, and register with no issues.

      Not that doing so is advisable, exactly. You could run into weird problems if the stranger is a jerk. But it’s doable.

        1. Amber Rose*

          Oh, I know it is. The rules are different in different places. Depending where you are, you may have more or less trouble. In provinces where insurance is run by the government instead of being independent it’s much more annoying.

    3. GreyjoyGardens*

      This is a great point, especially with regards to the pets and utilities. Sometimes a no-kill shelter will take a pet if it’s accompanied by a legacy – important if there are no friends or family that can take a particular pet, *and* it’s a type which won’t get adopted easily.

      Then there are the utilities – if you live in a place with freezing winters, you have to keep them on or the pipes will burst, and that can cost big bucks.

      And even super-simple stuff like “we have to clean out Grandma’s one-bedroom apartment” means someone has to take the time, coordinate the charity and/or junk pickup, distribute sentimental items, etc. etc.

  12. Construction Safety*

    We’re in the last part of our last 10 year insurance plan. Enough on me through work & a private policy to pay off the house & leave a medium nest egg for WoCS. We don’t have any on WoCS.

    One thing about work insurance, if you have more than $50k of employer paid insurance then the IRS taxes the additional benefit.

  13. Hiring Mgr*

    When we had our first child we intended to do this, however we mistakenly purchased liCe Insurance… Let me tell you though, we haven’t had single nit infestation, so it must be working fairly well.

  14. Amber Rose*

    Do not do this. The reason approval takes a while is because the good life insurance companies, the trustworthy ones, require medicals and history and stuff.

    My mom had a huge life insurance policy through this kind of “get approved fast” thing. We never saw a dime of it when she died. Since they didn’t get a medical from her, they spent a year requiring more and more medical information that we couldn’t get to give them because of FOIP, and claiming previous medical problems invalidated the whole thing, and forcing us to complete more and more forms, until our broken and battered hearts just gave up.

    If you really care about your family, go through the process. Because this crap? Will screw them over.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Yeah, I think my dad got a lawyer and got that much sorted out. But it was only a couple grand. Barely even dented costs.

    1. MG*

      Haven Life does require a medical exam for face values higher than a given amount (I know because I’ve been procrastinating about this, and I’ve finally signed my husband up). It asks a ton of health questions, and will send an examiner to your home or office (or at least that’s what they say).

      1. hellcat*

        Seconded – I got life insurance through Haven Life after my husband and I bought a home, and I had to complete a medical exam. It’s quick and non-invasive (besides a blood sample), but it’s definitely a medical exam.

    2. K, Esq.*

      When you sign the get-approved-fast stuff you make representations about your medical condition (blood pressure problems, smoking, etc.). If they find you’ve lied based on your medical records, they can refuse to pay out the policy and return the premiums. Not sure what FOIP is, but under HIPAA the Personal Representative of the estate has the right to the decedent’s medical information.

      1. Amber Rose*

        But they can claim anything is a lie, is my point. Even though we don’t actually know what mom died of, the autopsy was inconclusive, they pointed out oh, a mole she had that could have been a pre-existing condition, or a scar as a symptom of a pre-existing condition that she never told them about, or literally anything. We’d have had to go through and explain every effin’ mark on her body and every doctor’s appointment she’d ever had in the many years since she signed up. FOIP, or the Freedom Of Information Act, meant that not only was this information REALLY hard to get ahold of, we often had to pay for it.

        In the end we went to a lawyer who told us that we could be doing this for decades and they’d just come up with more and more things they wanted explained and we’d exhaust and bankrupt ourselves trying. He said he’d seen it countless times and advised we give up. So we did.

        This wasn’t some small company. This is one of the largest, well known insurance companies in Canada. It’s a scam and they’re allowed to pull it on everyone so they do. Scumbags.

        1. K, Esq.*

          Ah, you’re in Canada. Our Freedom of Information Act in the states is FOIA. Here you don’t have to use it to get medical information about a decedent because the person handling the estate is authorized by law to access the decedent’s medical information.

          In the US they cancel the policy if the information stated at the time of application is shown to be false based on contemporaneous medical records. So if you say you don’t have high blood pressure on the application, but your doctor’s note from a month before the application says you do, then you’re out of luck because they insured you based on your fraudulent representation. I don’t know why they’d want explanations for medical conditions occurring after she signed up because the rate they quote is based on risk at the time the insurance is issued. And yes, insurance companies can jerk you around. I’ve had to tell people it’s not worth my legal fees to pursue things. It sucks and I’m sorry.

    3. Brittney at Haven Life*

      Hi Amber – Brittney here from Haven Life. First, I’m sorry you went through that experience. We appreciate you raising this concern.

      At Haven Life, we are backed and wholly owned by MassMutual, a more than 160-year-old industry leading insurer. They are also the issuer of our Haven Term policy. We like to say we have your back and MassMutual has ours.

      Yes, in many cases, we can issue approval immediately because we’re analyzing all the typical information insurers request in real time. This includes personal information collected in the application and industry-standard third-party information – like driving records and prescription history.

      Haven Life only sells fully medically underwritten term life insurance, which we’re able to do in real-time thanks to our advanced underwriting platform that we built in partnership with our parent company.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Oh, okay, I have heard of this. There are computer apps that allow the agent to process the policy right away in front of the client. I think some companies issue a temporary policy while they fill in the details and then once cleared the main policy kicks in.

  15. Dax Allen*

    I’m a life insurance agent if anyone has any questions, please ask away. Least I can do to contribute to this great site!

    1. anon x 1000 for this*

      I’m going to be graduating college soon and have student loan debt so I’ve been thinking about life insurance to protect my spouse (disabled with SSI as her sole income) in case I pass before paying them off. What kinds of medical information impact pricing for plans? I know that smoking, weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and age all factor in, but what about mental health conditions like bipolar disorder?

      1. Dax Allen*

        Most companies do in fact take mental health into consideration. That said, most of the time it is more of a surcharge situation than that of an outright rejection. The best thing to do is apply, and see what they tell you. Most companies allow you to back out once you have the final price, after the medical underwriting is complete. I’m in California, and here, it is even the law that you get 30 days to back out, no harm, no foul.

        So talk to an agent in your state/country, and definitely go through the medical testing. The insurance company pays for it, and often times that alone is worth your time. And if it turns out it is affordable, all the better!

      2. J*

        I was hospitalized in college for suicidal ideation and it took a bit to find an insurer that we take me, even 8 years later. But we did find a place.

    2. Ezza*

      I applied for life insurance a couple of years ago, and they didn’t deny me, but did defer me due to a recent abnormal pap (basically they said that I should come and reapply when I have had a regular pap for a year or something). I’m now terrified of applying for life insurance, since I’m worried I’ll be denied due to this stupid abnormal pap.

      Are there any options that you recommend for an otherwise healthy person, with a past medical issue? If you’re denied, doesn’t it mean it will be way harder in the future to get life insurance?

      1. Dax Allen*

        It can make it harder to get life insurance if you’ve been denied before. That said, many companies will simply request your medical records and be more thorough with their assessments. Often enough, if sufficient time has passed, or if you physician says you’ve made a full recovery, it can have little-to-no effect on your medical underwriting. I’ve had several people with similar concerns about their medical history, and most of the time it doesn’t come up as much you think.

        To put it into perspective for you, many companies will still let you get a policy if your cancer has been in remission for a few years. CANCER. So most things like abnormal paps are considered fairly minor in the grand scheme of insurance (not to trivialize what happened to you, but any standard!), so I would definitely consider talking to an agent. The suggestion to reapply when you have had a regular pap for a year IS good advice, if for no other reason that it will keep that company’s underwriters happy.

    3. Anoneemoosey*

      Is there a limit to how many life insurance policies one can have? For example, if I were to already have coverage with 3 other providers, and I shop around for another policy, would they see it as a red flag of some sort?

      1. Dax Allen*

        That’s more of a case-by-case basis. I personally know people who own 20+ policies, and while that’s rare, it certainly isn’t an issue. Yes, they will ask if you have coverage on yourself already. But by-and-large, if you aren’t applying for policies with five or six different companies at once, it’s not a problem. Most of the time if you wait a while between policy purchases, they don’t mind.

        It really only raises red flags if a bunch of polices are purchased at once, especially across multiple companies. Even more so if you are applying for health insurance AND life insurance across multiple companies.

        Otherwise, no limit, no.

      1. Dax Allen*

        A very few companies offer plans that have either very, very little underwriting, or none at all. They are almost always the least cost effective, unfortunately. Be very careful if you go that route, to buy from a reputable company, as a long of the scams online advertise that very thing, and you will never seen a dime come payout time.

        The best advice I can give you is shop around multiple companies. There are a very few companies out there who may take you; just with a surcharge to offset the risk. I would definitely check out anything with simplified underwriting before NO underwriting. It will save you a lot of trouble in the long run. And don’t be put off if you get told no from four or five companies; company six may yet take you.

        1. em2mb*

          My partner and I are trying to make sure we have our affairs in order (we’re only 29, but we figure we should do that adulting thing everyone talks about before we turn 30). I make about twice as much as she does and the mortgage is in my name, so I really want to make sure there’s enough money to keep her in the house. Problem is, I’m the one that has Crohn’s disease. It’s well-managed at the moment, but I *was* hospitalized last year. Do I have any chance of passing the medical exam? Ideally I’d get her about $250K in coverage, enough to pay off the house and my full salary for two years, but I don’t know if I’d be better off trying to get a lower amount.

          1. Dax Allen*

            Crohn’s is not always a deal breaker for many companies, actually. Often it comes down to how well-managed it is, and is certainly seems like you have that in order. The hospitalization could be an issue, but even then you may just have to wait until a certain amount of time has passed (Usually 3 years from the incident) to try and apply.

            In the meantime, you can always a apply for a penalized rate now, and if you are approved, revisit it after the 3 year mark and see if it would be more cost-effective. Yours is one of the few cases where it may not be as cost effective to get it as soon as possible, but you also definitely want something in place.

            You probably would want to apply for a term policy for now, and look at permanent insurance after the 3rd year after the incident, provided you can still get a clean bill of health at that time.

            As to the amount, generally the more you are applying for, the more underwriting their is. They will find out about the Crohn’s either way, so apply for what you need, and you can always modify it later.

    4. automaticdoor*

      SO! I have bipolar disorder and general anxiety, but it’s very, very well-managed. I see my doctor regularly. I’m medication-compliant. I’ve not been hospitalized (and that was VOLUNTARY, not a hold or a court thing) since my diagnosis ten years ago. I’ve NEVER had suicidal ideation or attempts. However, Prudential through my husband’s work turned me down despite a glowing letter of rec from my psychiatrist. What do I do? I’m married, I have student loans, I live in a high cost of living area, I’m considering kids, and I’d like to not leave my husband and future kids in a world of hurt if I pass unexpectedly. Is it even possible for me to get life insurance? I thought that well-managed medical conditions weren’t disqualifying? Thanks for any advice.

      1. Dax Allen*

        You are definitely being responsible, and I applaud you for that!
        Well-managed medical conditions are not always disqualifying, true. Your anxiety probably isn’t a big deal, nor is the bipolar disorder. The problem is the anxiety coupled WITH the bipolar disorder. Most companies will be wary seeing that, and may decline you. That said, every company uses different underwriting guidelines, so one company may be more forgiving than another. I realize it isn’t a perfect answer, but keep shopping around with different companies.

        You have two other options as well:
        A. There are a few companies that offer life insurance without medical underwriting. I essentially never recommend that, but if you can find a reputable company, do it. Don’t take their word on how reputable they are, however, do your own research. Maybe even check the Better Business Bureau.
        B. Many companies offer Joint life insurance. If your husband is in good health, that may offset the worry of the underwriters, as they would have you both go through the underwriting process. Generally you can find both policies that pay out when the first spouse dies, and when the second does. Usually the underwriting for the second type is easier to qualify for, but there is no reason you couldn’t apply for both!
        Good luck searching!

      2. Brittney at Haven Life*

        Hello – Brittney here from Haven Life. Apologies for the delayed response. It’s wonderful to hear you’re doing so well at managing your health and that you’re dedicated to protecting your family. In this situation, the employer-provided coverage you mentioned may not have been suited to fully evaluate your health. When seeking an individual policy, every company has a different approach to more complex medical conditions. We know it’s not the fastest route, but we’d recommend submitting an application with multiple companies, so you can explore your coverage eligibility and secure the best offer. You’re welcome to try us, our parent company MassMutual, or try an aggregator like Quotacy which can explore a few insurers. Our friendly customer service would be happy to answer any questions you have along the way. help@havenlife.com

  16. Jeanne*

    Get life insurance for your children as well. Even if it’s a small amount, many policies have options to increase later. If your child is later diagnosed with a chronic illness, it might be the only life insurance they can get.

    1. HR Bee*

      My grandparents took out a policy on me when I was born, as a gift to my parents. My parents recently transferred the beneficiary to my husband’s name, but they are still paying on it, as a gift to us. I had no idea it existed until I was well into adulthood and married, but it’s such a good idea that I’m thinking of doing the same as a gift for my brother when he & his wife start having kids.

    2. Jamie*

      I used to work in insurance and got my sister to set up her son with a small whole life policy when he was young. Less than a year after they got it my nephew got diagnosed with ADHD and other behavior-related health issues that will make it next to impossible for him to get non-group coverage in the future. She’s incredible grateful that they got the coverage when they did.

  17. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

    I would really, really encourage people to keep in mind that stay-at-home spouses need coverage too. If the partner who stays home were to pass, surviving spouse now needs to arrange child care, house cleaning, laundry, grocery, meal planning/cooking, all bill pay, and all those duties that the SAH parent did, but now surviving spouse has to do it on top of working.

    My husband and I both have $500,000 policies. We’ve even agreed on priorities to spend the money if one was to pass: pay off mortgage and other small debts right away, then set aside balance for a few months while the grieving process happens. This would allow for the surviving spouse to focus on our kids and not worry about how food is going to get on the table. There’s enough life insurance money left over to offset my much lower salary for a few years while I find a better paying job (which means I’d need to finish the last year of my degree). We’ve talked it all out and even discussed what would happen if we both passed, either the same time or close together.

    I think this is part of simply being an adult.

  18. Anxa*

    I think life-insurance is incredibly confusing. Not in understanding what it is, but in what you should do.

    You could get a great policy, but what if 5 years from now you get a job that offers life insurance, and you actually stay in that job for a long time?

    Or you could get a skimpier policy, but then never have employer-based life insurance.

    Is this really a common benefit? It seems to make no sense to tie something as long-term as life insurance to something so capricious as employment. But it also seems like a lot of people still do get this benefit, and it’s a hard pill to swallow even a small monthly bill you don’t need when you’re living on the edge.

    1. Jeanne*

      It’s a common benefit for professional positions. I had it as a benefit when I was a scientist. It is not common for positions paid hourly.

    2. HR Bee*

      When my mother-in-law passed away unexpectedly, the life insurance through her employer was the only thing she left behind to help her partner with bills.

      As the HR person for a small manufacturing company, we recently had an employee pass unexpectedly of a heart attack. He was barely 50 and had no other insurance; the measly $30k policy we offer paid for his funeral costs entirely with some left over to help out his family. We’d only been signed up with this company for about 8 months and had not paid $30k into it company-wide yet.

      In both of these cases, if the employer hadn’t had mandatory, automatically-enrolling life insurance, these families would have been in a far worse position. So even though employment is capricious, life insurance is such a relatively low-cost benefit, and such a nice peace-of-mind thing, that a lot of employers will offer it, if only to pad out their benefits package. No one expects to use it – but if you need it, you’re heckin’ glad it’s there.

    3. Book Lover*

      I have it as a benefit, but it is not portable. There is also a slight increase in cost as I get older rather than a fixed cost. I don’t plan to leave my job, but it isn’t always a choice. So I do have separate life insurance. It isn’t easy to write the separate check monthly, but direct debit helps with that :)

  19. Urrrghhh*

    Of course the calculator is going to tell me I need it. The site is selling life insurance.

    –I have no one to provide for.
    –I’m in pretty good health as of now.
    –If I die, my student loan debt goes away (no cosigners).
    –My family can sell my house to a flipper.
    –I don’t even want a funeral or a grave or anything (remind me to tell my family to do the cheapest thing they possibly can). Better yet, I should set myself up to be donated to the Body Farm–they won’t pay shipping or pick you up if you’re not in the state, but I can put funds aside for that. Shouldn’t cost family anything.
    –I have no pets.
    –My car is paid for.
    –Everything I own is a bunch of junk. Toss it, pick through it; I don’t care.

    I don’t need it.

    Wow, is my life pathetic or what?!

    1. kitryan*

      It suggested I get about 25,000 and the remaining value of my mortgage (no other serious debts, no spouse, no dependents). This is a bad idea for me, as the mortgage is aprox 1/4 the value of the property, so just sell the house, with no dependents, no one wants to live there. Yes, there are death costs and clean up/disposal costs but I don’t know why the assumption is that – absent any dependents/spouse that someone’s going to want to pay off the mortgage! This shouldn’t be the default option. It wouldn’t take many more steps to ask what the aprox. market value of the home is and if your heirs would want to keep it.
      I also do have a smallish policy already that my grandparents got when I was born, that my parents pay. They’re the beneficiaries now and will probably remain so as long as they’re capable of overseeing any post-death decisions, if I predecease them, so, other than making my family aware of any preferences I have for disposal of my possessions and care of my pet, I’m covered.

  20. Never Nicky*

    I would strongly advise people to max out on their employer provided plans if possible – it’s likely to be the cheapest cover and possibly the only cover if you have a health condition.

    I have death in service benefits through work of 2x salary but am in the process of buying a house worth considerably more with my higher earning partner. I also have multiple sclerosis – pretty benign case and not likely to impact my life expectancy. No matter. Most mainstream insurers won’t insure me for the house value and those that will are loading the premiums by 50% plus and that’s only for decreasing term.
    We’re juggling numbers now but we’re so thankful for at least the work benefit!

    1. Brittney at Haven Life*

      Hi Nicky, you’re right. Employer coverage can sometimes be more affordable if you’re older or have pre-existing health conditions because you can take advantage of the group rates, which are priced to also include young, healthy people in the workforce. That said, for people who are young and have a clean health history, it’s usually more affordable to purchase coverage outside of work because the premium is personalized to the applicant. And, they can lock in that low rate for the duration of the policy. It never hurts for people to get a quote from their employer and to cross check with our quote page. Also, they should make sure employer coverage is portable if that’s the route they choose to go.

  21. Dzhymm, BfD*

    Can I register a complaint about the process of *buying* life insurance? When I was freelancing and thus not under an employer’s policy I tried shopping for life insurance. The incredibly hard sell really put me off. I remember talking to one agent stating that I’d like to see some paperwork that actually described the policy. She’d have none of it; she was in “close” mode: “We need to have a physical. We can send the nurse over this afternoon. That doesn’t work? How about tomorrow? She has weekend hours available as well!”. Look, I just wanted *information* about what I was seeking to buy, *THEN* we can make a decision and move forward with the details. Getting rid of that salesperson was as difficult as scraping a dog turd off my shoe. To this day I have not attempted to repeat the process…

    1. Brittney at Haven Life*

      Our process is entirely self-directed. You can calculate your life insurance needs, get a quote and apply entirely online without speaking to a soul. That said, there is very friendly customer support available to help along the way if you have questions. They are reachable via phone, email or live chat.

  22. SL #2*

    This post reminded me to look up the life insurance benefits offered through my employer. Coverage is skimpy, to say the least. I’ll have to remind myself to ask my parents about their coverage and their broker next time I visit…

  23. kitryan*

    As I was reading through the comments, I was reminded of the issue of creative legacies. It’s really important, if you’re someone who has intellectual property, literary or artistic works, etc. that you make appropriate plans for that. Otherwise your artistic legacy may be left in the hands of someone who is ill prepared or ill disposed to administer it. Please see the link in my commenting name for Neil Gaiman’s post on the topic. Sorry if this is a bit of a tangent, but it’s a pretty important thing that can easily get overlooked in people’s planning.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Oh this is very interesting stuff. I have to be vague but I have a great example near me. Famous Person with Very Famous Song left the proceeds of the song to his community for Certain Program. It’s been decades and proceeds still roll in.

      1. bluesboy*

        Another good example would be JM Barrie leaving the rights to Peter Pan to Great Ormond Street, the children’s hospital. I don’t think anybody predicted at the time that half a century later people would still be making films of it, but the hospital has done very nicely out of it!
        As someone who has had a family member spend some significant time there quite a few years ago, it’s funny to think that her care was partially funded thanks to Hook!

  24. Printer's Devil*

    Life insurance is important, but unless you’re really trying to cheap out, I’d recommend whole life over term. Whole life can build up value over time and be used as a financial asset if necessary.

    (I’m a printer’s devil now, but I used to be a policy service elf for a large insurance company, my dad used to be the assistant to an agent, my mom used to be a trainer, and my husband used to sell it.)

    1. Emma*

      I think it also depends on what your goal is. It may be that you only need the insurance for a fixed period (like until your house is paid off), and are ok that it won’t be a long term investment.

  25. Essie*

    If you need a physical for a life insurance policy, cancel if you get sick! I learned this the hard way.

    My husband and I had an appointment for a nurse to come to the house so we could both get individual policies. My husband had just gotten over a wicked stomach flu, and nobody told us that illness was a problem. His liver numbers came back so bad that they asked if he was an alcoholic. When we said no, but that he’d just spent two days violently ill, they shrugged and said we should have cancelled the appointment, then black flagged him for a policy.

    We had no idea that something run-of-the-mill like a cold or food poisoning would have mattered. We thought they were looking for long-term issues like smoking, diabetes, and heart conditions.

  26. Jessen*

    I’m really not getting why it thinks I should have 50k life insurance. I’m single with no dependents. I have a pile of student loans, all federal, no cosigners. Even if they weren’t student loans, I don’t really have much to pass on other than a cheap car and a little bit of money in the bank.

    Not that I think anyone would sign me up for a policy, mind. My medical history is a disaster. I might actually have better luck waiting for a policy, honestly, than trying to sign up now.

  27. Wrench Turner*

    We have life insurance here. In addition to the miscellaneous inherited medical risks for in men in my family (we start dropping dead suddenly around 60), my day job is actually quiet dangerous and there’s a decent chance I’ll be killed at work doing commercial HVAC. So, to make sure our house is paid off and she can start over again debt free, we got it.

  28. C*

    I feel like I am currently overinsured for life insurance. But I am hesitant to drop the coverage since I would have difficulty buying more due to health if my circumstances change and I get married/have dependents.

    My last employer’s policy was portable (which is the only reason I qualified for the policy in the first place – I bought it when I did not have to go through underwriting).

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