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Land of the Free and Home of the Brave

Life insurance is unlike any other product you will buy. The reason is simple: the value is received when you pass away. We buy virtually everything else for use now. Life insurance is not used now, but it does provide a spiritual benefit now: lifetime peace of mind. That also makes it very distinctive.

As an insurance product, it is incredibly unique because of the absolute certainty a claim will be filed. This can be said about no other insurance product. You may never get sick or hurt, and so you may never file a medical or disability insurance claim. You may never get into a car accident, and so you may never use your auto insurance. Your home and office may never experience a theft, fire, or other damage, so you may never draw against your property and casualty policy. You may never get sued over your business conduct, so you may never have to protect yourself with your professional liability insurance.

But we all die. This surety of claim (assuming, or course, you keep your policy in force!) makes life insurance the most sensible insurance to purchase. Yet at the same time, we really have no idea exactly when that time will come. True, the actuaries now have a monumental database of statistics to call upon when estimating your mortality and setting rates. Hundreds of years of experience have given this calculation an impressive degree of precision. Nonetheless, if it was really all that precise, we would simply be able to mark our date of death on the calendar and plan accordingly. Buying life insurance would then be so much easier, as would be life in general.

Fortunately, life is not some science fiction horror movie in which everybody’s life gets predicted and planned to the last minute. We all must chart a course for our lives and navigate through our days to stay on track. This can be quite an intimidating responsibility, and therein lies the challenge.

We are very much creatures of comfort, in all respects. We like to take it easy. We like to enjoy life. We don’t like to wrack our brains too much. And we don’t like to be tested. This is especially true regarding our own mortality: we just don’t like to think about. So when a broker or a planner identifies a need for life insurance, we start whistling Dixie. Can’t we talk about something fun? How about investments!?

Even people sold on the idea will often postpone the purchase. They know they need it. They see the huge benefit for a cost of pennies on the dollar. They like the guarantee of this benefit that no other product can provide. They get themselves right to the edge of that abyss over which they must jump, to confront their own mortality … they even crouch and get ready to conquer their fears and give themselves peace of mind… and then… any one of ten thousand things crosses their mind, and they say “Wait just a minute! Got to attend to this other business first. Then I will get right back to that cliff. Don’t worry.”

Three months later their footprints remain at the edge of the cliff, reminders of how close they came to making that jump. Close, but no cigar. But who can blame them? We are born determined to secure life. Babies will keep crying until they get fed. (Having dealt with ailing seniors, I can say the same thing about them when lunch is late). Of course we would like to pretend it will last forever.

When clients get their policies, I feel like handing out medals. For sure, they have made a smart financial decision. They have also done the right thing in protecting their family, business or estate. But more than that, they have become a stronger person. They have managed to face the reality of their own death long enough to complete both prequalification and underwriting. Amidst all the daily temptations of matters less serious and dire, they remained focused on the target. They were able to say, ”I recognize that I am going to die someday, and it might even happen sooner than I think. I cannot change that fact, but I can do something about the impact it will have on those people and those interests I hold dear.” What an act of bravery!

Americans are a brave people. We have had the fortitude to weather many wars and hard times. We have also achieved great prosperity. In doing so we have generated new challenges for ourselves. It is easier to face death on the battlefield or in times of hunger, than it is when you feel less is on the line. When death is an abstraction, as opposed to a possibility faced daily, we tend to downplay its importance. Who ever heard of talking about death in a financial newsletter, anyway!?

But once you understand that the decision to buy life insurance is essentially about bravery, the topic gets a lot more appealing – inspirational, even. For that reason we will talk about bravery in upcoming issues: how to find it, where to find it, how to share it. These essays will help you to not only get decisive about that life insurance purchase, but to take charge of your other affairs as well. In this country – thank God – we are free to be all we can be.