These days, it's easier than ever to feel good about making a big purchase. The internet makes it simple to research the latest gadget you've had your eye on, read up on consumer reviews for the new yoga studio down the street, or (as as my wife and I did recently) find the safest, best-designed crib on the market for your family's newest addition. Yelp, Angie's List, Amazon, and countless other websites and apps virtually ensure that you'll find the best version of the exact product you're looking for, and that it will be shipped to you in less than 24 hours. It's truly a wonderful and fascinating age to be a shopper in America.
Problem is, the same level of ease of research doesn't seem to apply to one of the most important financial purchases you will ever make -- life insurance. Life insurance products are plastered all over the internet in pop-ups and rock-bottom rate-finders that promise to deliver hundreds of thousands of dollars in protection for just pennies a day. But those too-good-to-be-true prices are, as many Americans find out the hard way, just that. First of all, those dirt-cheap online quotes you see are always for bare-minimum products, at the best possible health ratings (which only 2% of America can actually get). They advertise the price for the shortest, cheapest, death-benefit-only term product possible, with all riders stripped away, while assuming that your health is on par with that of an Olympic triathlete. Truth is, your family's needs aren't going to remotely be met by a product priced in those advertised ranges, even in the off-chance that you could qualify for it. Bottom line: if you're looking for the lowest-possible price on life insurance, as with any other product, you're going to be sacrificing quality for those extra couple of bucks you save. With certain goods and services, that's a sacrifice many folks are willing to make, and rightfully so. But, as I tell my clients, there are a few things in life you simply don't want to skimp on when it comes to quality. Toilet paper is one. Laser eye surgery is another. Your life insurance coverage should definitely fall into this category as well.
So, ignoring the distracting internet popups and disregarding the obnoxious radio ads for the life insurance equivalent of single ply sandpaper, the savvy consumer will start exploring more realistic, quality options to protect her family. What many people don't realize is that life insurance has evolved in recent years, just like any other product has. 25 years ago, we all had rotary phones in our kitchens; today, pocket-sized smart phones can access the world's wealth of information with a few swipes of a touchscreen. Similarly, whereas your grandfather's life insurance only paid out to your grandmother if he passed away, new products add the ability to access your death benefit while you're still living if you're to be diagnosed with a terminal, chronic, or critical illness at any point during the time you're covered. These game-changing features, or "Living Benefits", mark an enormous step in the evolution of a product that's been around since the 1800's. For the first time, "life insurance" is more than what basically amounted to "death insurance" before now. Cancer, heart attack, stroke, ALS, kidney failure, and many other medical conditions are among those covered by these incredibly useful Living Benefit riders.
So why is this coverage so crucial to today's American family?
60% of all bankruptcies in the United States were the direct result of a critical illness (cancer, heart attack, stroke, etc.) and the medical bills that followed. Of those bankrupted patients, 80% of them had health insurance coverage.
That statistic is mind-boggling. Go ahead and read it again, I'll wait here.
The irrefutable fact is that health insurance coverage, while great to have, is simply not cutting it for Americans who suffer major medical events. The proof is in the pudding, and the tragic results are being played out every day across America. There is a gaping void in the average American's protection of their family and finances, one that many sadly remain unaware of until it's far too late. Life insurance plans infused with Living Benefits armor this potentially fatal Achilles' heel perfectly, and in the case of my company, do it at no additional cost than that of an old-fashioned "death insurance" plan.
So, to my savvy consumers out there: what type of life insurance do you have in place to protect your loved ones? To my fellow life insurance professionals: what type of life insurance are you offering your clients? Are you out there advocating rotary dials in a world of smart phones?