by Yule Heibel on March 22, 2005

It’s been a really busy few days lately. Ragged, to the point that I have no mind for complicated topics, either. But here’s a simple bit that stuck out for me:

On the weekend I found myself sitting between two women — moms — while we waited for our kids to finish a master class at the Music Conservatory. Mom-on-my-right says that her daughter is probably really tired just about now since she and the daughter had been to a funeral at mid-day. “Oh,” I ask, “what happened?” A dad, in the middle of his late forties (and incidentally a year younger than I am) died this March after an out-of-the-blue December diagnosis of cancer. His survivors included his wife and 2 young children, who were friends of the student in the masterclass. I pictured 2 young kids, with bereft mom facing a mountain of running bills, and I ask, “He had life insurance, I hope?” Mom-on-the-right, having focussed on the touching moments of the funeral service, sits bolt upright, suddenly looks quizzical, and says, “I don’t know.”

Wow. You could see the wheels turning: “Let’s see: I have the money to afford music lessons for my child at the Conservatory, but do I have life insurance? Does my husband?”

Mom-on-the-left, a decidedly more practical-seeming person, pipes in with, “A friend of mine and her boyfriend bought a house, and then he unexpectedly died a couple of weeks after they moved in. She was pregnant, it was awful for her, but they had mortgage insurance and she was able to pay off the entire house.” Mom-on-the-right’s pensiveness increases even more.

Yeah, well, that’s right. You go and start a family and you better lose the ridiculous teenage “I’m immortal” attitude. You have to think about what’s going to be available for your kids if you “prematurely” kick the bucket. It happens. Jeez, it happens. What are you going to leave them?

It’s probably a good idea to have the term life insurance for yourself at least until the kid is a teenager. After that, take out an additional policy if you can afford it — on the kid. Just in case there’s one of those all-too-prevalent vehicular incidents.

What? You think this is morbid? Maybe it is. But are you the kind of fool who thinks you’re not going to die (“prematurely” or …”on time”), or that your death shouldn’t benefit your survivors?

Do I resent paying the insurance premiums, when there are so many other things I need money for? Absolutely. But on the other hand, even people in their forties die, and a quarter of a million dollars in pay-out will go some way toward paying for education, providing an inheritance, or (for the philanthropically inclined) starting a fund or scholarship to improve some small corner of someone’s world. It’s sure better than leaving nothing.

And that reminds me that I have been most remiss in basic health care for myself, having ignored the annual mammogram for at least four years now… Delusions of immortality: seems they’re impossible to get away from… If you’re careful about insurance, you’re bound to be reckless somewhere else, unless you’re the kind of smarty-pants empyreum-bound paragon that every normal earth-bound sucker hates.

Even though I may die bound and tied by the red tape of corporations forced to pay my heirs vast sums of money, living recklessly, you see, is my insurance.

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