The Institute of Inertia looks at why so many families put themselves at financial risk by not taking out life insurance.
Would you risk facing financial hardship if your partner died? New research reveals that over 1.6 million of you would, with a further 78% of parents polled admitting that they would be unable to cover rent or mortgage costs after losing the highest earning partner because you don’t have life insurance.
Our study of over 2,000 parents revealed that nearly half (47%) of you don’t have life insurance, whilst a further 44% of you have never even discussed the financial implications of death with your partner.
This is worrying, especially given that a lack of life insurance means that 4.64 million of you may need additional government benefits, and a further 2.89 million of you could need to use food banks, within just four weeks of your partner dying.
When we look at why it becomes clear that the reasons for not purchasing vary. Nearly a quarter (23%) of you say you don’t have a policy because you wouldn’t ‘personally benefit’, whilst a further fifth of you admitted that you don’t see the benefits.
So, the Institute of Inertia dug deeper to find out why this is the case.
A number of psychologists have suggested that this financial disconnect is linked to ‘Terror Management Theory’ – a concept which suggests that many of us often suppress thoughts of our own death so quickly that it doesn’t even surface in consciousness.
Indeed, the same poll also found that nearly a third (31%) of you would take out life insurance if it was repositioned as ‘Love Insurance’, a label that naturally alludes to security and protection.
Ben Brooks-Dutton, widowed father and writer of the blog, lifeasawidower.com, benefited from life insurance when his 33-year-old wife was killed in 2012.
He told us: “My wife, Desreen, and I took out life insurance just eight months before she was struck and killed by a speeding car in west London in November 2012. At the time, she said she couldn’t afford it and joked about how just I should get it to make sure she and our son would be okay if anything happened to me.
“We had both completely avoided any thoughts of our deaths, and therefore getting life insurance for the first 18 months of our son’s life, until our arms were forced when Desreen set up her own business. Now, thanks to the policy, my five-year-old son and I own a house and I am able to work part-time, which means I can spend more time with my son.”
Dr Thomas Webb, a social psychologist at the University of Sheffield and Chair of the Institute of Inertia, explains: “Terror Management Theory suggests that people have a tendency to suppress thoughts of their own death so quickly that they often don’t even surface in consciousness. This can be a problem because taking out life insurance requires that we consider our own mortality in order to take action to lessen the financial impact of our death on our families.”
“Planning for the things we can’t control may seem like a futile exercise, but not when you are actually ensuring that your family is taken care of in the unlikely event of your sudden death.”
Simon McCulloch, Director of Insurance at comparethemarket.com, comments: “It is common human behaviour to avoid thinking about mortality, but this can often contradict our instincts to protect those we care for the most: our families. There seems to be a significant gap in understanding the benefits of life insurance and how it would help support a bereaved family. Reframing life insurance as ‘Love insurance’ could ensure more families are protected against the financial burden that is often associated with tragedy. Life insurance gives peace of mind to the living and allows parents to show their love and care posthumously.”