Bringing up life insurance with your family and loved ones is not fun or easy. It makes us confront our “favorite” topics: death, finances, taxes, estate planning, debts, health care. But getting life insurance is an expression of love that goes beyond words. It shows your loved ones—with certainty—that you care about protecting their future.
Whether you need to have a life insurance discussion with a spouse, parent or other important loved one, starting the conversation can be the hardest part. To help you take the plunge, here are three ways to start a conversation about life insurance with your family.
Starter #1: Begin by Asking Questions—and Listening
The first way to start a productive conversation about life insurance with your family members is to be direct and thoughtful. Asking purposeful questions, and then listening intently to your loved ones’ answers can be a good start. It just takes a bit of bravery on your part if you are not used to having these conversations. Here are some examples:
- To a Parent: “Hey mom, your kids all love you and want to make sure you are well taken care of. This includes taking care of everything for you when you die. That being said, we need to know more about the details. Do you have life insurance? Do you have a plan for any final expenses or debts?”
- To a Spouse: “I know we don’t often talk about our finances. However, whether we like it or not, we need to have a candid conversation about what happens to our family and assets if we die. Specifically, we need to talk about how much life insurance we may need. I wrote down some important questions for us to answer together. Can we look at them now?”
Asking your life insurance questions is just the beginning. Next, you will need to engage your active listening skills to create a safe space to have a candid conversation. Let your loved one know that you are listening to their answers without judgement. You may feel like your loved one is behind on their planning, but it’s important to remember that any amount of life insurance coverage is better than none at all.
Starter #2: Share a Personal Example
If you believe a less direct route could produce better results, then another way to have a conversation about life insurance is to start with a personal example. Specifically, it can be a story about someone you know firsthand or someone you just read or heard about.
For example, you could tell a story about a friend’s father who died, and how your friend was so grateful that their father was prepared for his death. You could talk about how this parent had all their final expenses taken care of with a life insurance policy.
On the other hand, you could find an example of someone who was unprepared for their death and left debt for their loved ones to cover. Perhaps you have seen someone raising money on social media to help cover the costs of their loved one’s funeral or final medical expenses.
First, decide if sharing a positive or negative experience will lead to a more open conversation. If you don’t have a personal example, share one of the stories from Life Happens—this story featuring the Miller family demonstrates the positives of adequate coverage, while Brentney’s story shows the consequences of a parent having little or no life insurance. Then, begin with your story and follow up with questions for your loved one.
Starter #3: Use the Pandemic or Other Current Events
You can also use current events to start a conversation about life insurance. A recent survey from Life Happens and LIMRA found that 31% of Americans say “COVID-19 has made it more likely they will purchase life insurance within the next 12 months.”
Decidedly, the pandemic has made some of us a little more comfortable with having the tough discussions on planning for death, and you can use this to your advantage. Just be tactful and lead with how the pandemic, or another current event, has made you feel first. Then, ask your loved one how it makes them feel before launching into your related life insurance questions.
Conclusions and Action Steps
Life insurance conversations are often difficult to start but very necessary to have. Moreover, we need to have these conversations sooner rather than later. Make a plan to have a life insurance conversation with your parent, grandparent, spouse or another family member.
- First, take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the basics of life insurance if needed.
- Next, write down the questions you need answered. You can use this list to help.
- Then, have a conversation with your loved one. Decide if you can be direct with your questions, or if you need to start softer with an example or event to ease into the discussion.
Finally, act on your findings by talking to a life insurance professional. Your life insurance agent will help you fill in any financial holes that you and your family members may have.