Re-examining the value of life insurance

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What if your office chair were empty tomorrow and forever? How valuable are you to your organization? How important are your skills, your leadership, your vision and passion to the success and future of your business, institution, organization or even your family?

These are not hypothetical questions. They are as real as your heartbeat. Who is counting on you? Make no mistake; there are many who will hurt, some businesses may fold, some schools, colleges, churches and institutions may suffer, some dear ones may not recover emotionally or financially if your chair is empty. 

On the other hand, it is possible that, even in the direst circumstances, those you care about, the places and people that are counting on you can be protected even if the unexpected happens today. A conversation now about life insurance may mean accumulated debts can be gone and funding for growth to secure and expand your business or place of service will be there when you are not. College educations can continue without interruption, mortgages can be paid and your income can be partially replaced for your family.

Today, life insurance is more important, more affordable and accessible than ever. Things have changed. The market is very competitive. For those with a 20-year time horizon, the rates of return on whole life or permanent insurance exceed nearly every CD, money market, and other low-risk choices. Inflation risk is currently non-existent, making insurance a better investment than any time in recent history. Consider this: 

  1. Age matters. The younger you are, the less the expense. Temporary or term insurance can be very reasonable. Mike Elliott was still in high school when his dad, an entrepreneur who had an undiagnosed heart ailment, died at age 42. But Mike had 4 years of college and 6 years of medical school paid for because his dad had life insurance that provided for Mike’s future education. 
  2. Health matters. The time to buy insurance is before you need it. Chris Monteforte planned to buy a temporary or term policy. Just before his appointment with an agent, his doctor prescribed medication to lower cholesterol and his high blood pressure, which resulted from his recent weight gain. These conditions disqualified him for the policy he wanted to own. 
  3. Family matters. Married with children and a mortgage? Insurance needs grow along with your family and debt. Forbes Magazine and all its various related businesses were kept in the family because Malcolm Forbes' life insurance policies paid all state and federal estate taxes due at his death. Selling assets or even the business to pay taxes is a loser's game and can erode decades of hard work.  
  4. Capital and continuity matters. Own your own business? Have a business partner? Are you a key leader in a charitable or service organization? Your insurance can provide security and stability when you are not there to lead. All the accumulated debt of Liberty University was paid completely and a large endowment was created when Dr. Jerry Falwell, president and founder of the university, died unexpectedly leaving a reported $34 million to secure the future of his beloved institution. 
  5. Today matters. Insurance has never been more accessible. Research online at or or call an agent. Your current agent who handles your car or home insurance may be very competitive in price.  

Common excuses for not purchasing life insurance ignore the benefits. 

The idea that younger families do not need life insurance is incorrect.  Losing a breadwinner dramatically alters the future for both the spouse and children. In addition, it is much cheaper for a younger person to be covered.

Some argue that it is too expensive. This is a huge misconception as there are many low cost options, competitive pricing and types of policies available that provide great value for families. Here is just one example:

A 35-year-old male in good health can buy a 20-year, $1,000,000 term policy for less than $39 per month (quotes will vary by age, health and company).

Can you afford not to own some form of life insurance, permanent (called whole life) or temporary (coverage for a defined period of time) to ensure a long-term future for your business, those people and institutions you deeply care about?

Why not talk it over today and make plans now so no one will ever have to say, "It is too bad; if had he/she had only known what was ahead, it would have made such a difference for everyone." The time is now; do not put this off. People are counting on you to make right decisions. Life insurance may be more expensive tomorrow and, perhaps, too late. 

Your empty chair will be costly. Life insurance in its various forms has the power to transform a tragedy to an expression of caring that can live for decades to come. It is time to re-examine your needs and plan for the future. It all begins with a simple conversation. You may be surprised at the peace of mind and sense of security you will know and share with those who matter most.

Stan Craig, the founder of the ForeTalk Seminar, is an accomplished financial planner, executive coach and keynote speaker. He is also author of “ForeTalk: Taking Care of Tomorrow Today.” As a finance professional, Craig had a 27-year career at Merrill Lynch, which included positions as national sales manager, director of global sales for defined asset funds and the first vice president and senior director of the Office of Investment Performance. For more information, visit

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