There’s no getting around it: The words “life insurance” do not inspire glee or enthusiasm. There are no life insurance trends or memes or influencers. There are no reality TV shows about life insurance. Alongside investing and washing dishes and saving for retirement, it is simply one of those tactical things we privately pursue to feel grown up. But as with investing and washing dishes and saving for retirement, discussing it is as much about future-planning as it is about getting your present shit together. And realizing that sometimes it’s worth checking off the humdrum boxes so that you’re free to check off the more thrilling ones, like, say, buying a vibrator.
But being responsible is not all humdrum — there are all kinds of emotional mechanisms at play when we engage with this stuff, from the unspoken desire to create a legacy to the intangible joy of securing a safety net for the people you love. And the life turns that push people towards things like life insurance do inspire enthusiasm, among other feelings. Below, in partnership with Haven Life Insurance Agency, three women tell us what happened in their lives to inspire them to seek out extra security.
Haven Life is a MassMutual backed startup that was founded in 2014 on the idea that term life insurance should be easy to understand, apply for online and afford (a 30-year, $500,000 policy for a healthy 30-year-old woman is only $36.36/month — you can get your own quote here). Whether you’ve considered purchasing a policy or have no idea why you would, the below stories might help clarify why this step has earned its place among grown-up-shit-you-should-consider. Each one is very different, but hand to whatever-god-you-believe-in, they collectively inspired the MR editorial team to ask, “Shit…should we all get life insurance?”
Read on to see if you feel the same, and then drop any lingering questions you have in the comments. Haven Life experts will be standing by.
My first child was born in 2006. I was in graduate school for history at the time, and my husband was in training to be a doctor. We weren’t really thinking about things like life insurance back then. I was very young — about 25. We married when I was 22.
It was a year after my husband finished his fellowship and was working as a cardiologist that he suggested it. I was pregnant again, and he thought that we should both get a term life insurance policy — or for sure he should, as he was the primary breadwinner. I was working as a curator at a museum and, while I loved it, I was definitely not making big bucks.
So in the middle of my pregnancy, I took my life insurance medical exam — which is completely fine as long as the pregnancy is going well. It was easy enough because we were both young and healthy. My husband has a congenital heart defect, but otherwise there were no issues, so we were both relatively inexpensive to insure.
And then, shortly after we were approved for our policies, my health took a turn. I felt terrible. I was watching Grey’s Anatomy, my favorite show, and I couldn’t even finish it. That’s how my husband knew. We went to the hospital and I started to black out. I had all the signs for severe, acute preeclampsia. My blood pressure was 180 over 110. And I had something else called HELLP syndrome — my blood was having issues, I had low platelets, and my liver was shutting down. Like, everything was bad. It was totally traumatic.
They delivered my daughter right away by emergency C-section. She was seven weeks early and weighed three pounds. I didn’t see her for two days. Turns out there was a clot in my placenta, which may have been the cause, may not have been. Luckily I bounced back pretty quickly, but if I’d have gotten my health exam after that situation, my policy probably would have been more expensive, or I might have even been uninsurable for several years.
Two years later, when I was pregnant with my son, we decided to increase my coverage from $250,000 to $500,000. I may not be the primary breadwinner, but I am the default parent. If something comes up and a kid gets sick, my husband can’t leave the hospital. That’s all on me. At that point I believe we also got our wills done.
We have friends that say, “I don’t want to get my will. I don’t know who to give my children to!” But I’m from a family of lawyers, so I’m like, “Just do it. Here. Here’s my lawyer.” (Ed note: Haven Term policyholders get access to benefits like creating a will with Trust & Will at no additional cost through the Havel Life Plus rider.) For many people there’s this anxiety about thinking about future events happening, but you have to get past it. Same for saving for retirement. Try to do the maximum, even if you have to make other sacrifices. And short-term savings, too. Our financial advisor told us to make sure to have six months of bills saved up as a safety net. Preparing for these things is really important.
My husband is a very thought-out guy. He is very cautious. I didn’t think about a lot of this stuff before I met him. Life insurance was not on my radar at all. Sometimes it takes having a partner who is really clued in to shine a light on its importance. But I’m in his mindset now. You have to give yourself that security, you know?
I bought my first term insurance policy when I was 22, right out of college. Buying insurance at a young age, in your twenties, is super inexpensive. I truly spend more money on coffee every month than I do my term life insurance, but it’s so important because it protects my insurability: It’s not a guaranteed thing that everyone can just get life insurance whenever they feel like it. None of us knows what our future holds and if we’ll be in good enough health to qualify for coverage. Sometimes you have to do things like take a blood test so insurance companies can make sure that you qualify for coverage — which is one difference from life insurance you get through work, which typically stays at your employer when you leave.
I got term life insurance because I know that regardless of what happens with my health as I get older, I have guaranteed coverage for 20 years. So if I get diagnosed with anything during that time, it doesn’t matter because I bought term insurance at 22, when I was healthy.
People start to think about life insurance when they have kids and they’re like, “Alright. Maybe I should think about this for my kid’s sake.” But I think it’s important to think about it when you’re young as well. Why wait? You don’t know whether or not you’ll even qualify for it when you’re older. I don’t have kids; I’m not married. It’s strictly for financial planning reasons that I have this. It’s cheap, it’s easy. I’m a financial advisor, and in terms of financial planning, buying term life insurance is risk management. The absolute foundation of financial planning is risk management.
I think that most people will feel like they’re “prepared” if they sign up for life insurance with their employer. But most of the time, whatever you purchase stays with your employer when you leave — you can’t take it with you. And millennials, in general, are jumping from job to job. It’s just the lifestyle, the culture; it’s what people do. So it’s important to have these foundational risk management tools that you can take with you wherever you go. It’s really important to have an individual term life insurance policy that is totally separate from your employer, that is with a life insurer that you can grow with and take with you everywhere you go. And start when you’re young. In your 20s, absolutely. I think everybody should do that.
My husband and I are self-employed and have a young son. We are also the only ones in our family (not just immediate family, but extended family) with money, so we often end up taking care of everybody else. That’s why, if anything happened to us, I want to make sure my son has resources.
My husband’s father passed away pretty young, when he was in his 50s. His wife — my husband’s mom — didn’t have any type of life insurance, so my husband and I ended up having to help pay for the funeral, for bills and things like that. We were still a new family and couldn’t support the costs of another home long-term, so my mother-in-law actually ended up losing her family home. It was very difficult for my husband to see her go through that, and to imagine the possibility of me ever having to go through that.
Also, before we started our business, my husband had a colleague in his mid-20s who had a cold that wouldn’t go away. He eventually found out it was cancer and passed away 30 days after that. He had just gotten married. So those things kind of solidified it for us, you know?
Having term life insurance definitely gives me a sense of security. People always think it’s something you need when you’re older, but you never know. If something were to happen to either my husband or me, at least we know that the other one will have money to take care of our home and take care of our child.
Exploring your need for life insurance is not only an important step in adulthood, but also an important step at any stage in life. If you look at funeral costs today, it’s typically between $7,000 and $9,000 dollars. How many young people, or even families, have $8,000 lying around? That’s why getting insured was a big priority for us financially. We got that straightened out before we even thought about buying a house. It felt like an even more significant milestone in terms of setting ourselves up for a better future, and we’ve advocated the same course of action to friends, to family members — especially younger couples.
My son is almost 12 years old now, and he already knows that we have term life insurance. I feel really good about the fact that I’m setting an example for him in terms of what it means to take ownership of your life and feel empowered by your future instead of afraid. As a parent, that’s one of my biggest objectives.
Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC17DTC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. In New York, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas, 100139527.
Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider which is included as part of the Haven Term policy. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made accessible under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners).
Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. In New York, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas, 100139527.
Illustrations by Charlotte Trounce.