Bringing up the topic of life insurance can be uncomfortable. No one wants to think about those “what if” situations that end in the loss of a loved one. However, it’s an important discussion to have. Life insurance gives you or your loved ones financial support after a sudden loss of income due to death — so it’s critical to have a policy in place. Whether you’re talking to a parent or a spouse about getting them a policy, use these tips to get over the conversation hurdles and broach the subject in an empathetic way.
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Tips On Preparing For the Conversation
Even before you sit your spouse, parents, or children down to discuss life insurance, make sure you take the necessary steps to ensure the discussion goes smoothly.
Tip #1: Educate Yourself About How Life Insurance Works and Plan Options
Before jumping into the life insurance conversation, you need to know what you’re talking about. This is especially important if you think you might face pushback from the other party. Immediately having answers to their questions and concerns can help lessen the stress of the situation.
To prepare yourself, research the different types of life insurance plan options, such as term life insurance (life insurance for a specific amount of time) and whole life insurance (life insurance for your lifetime). Learn about policy premium payments, how to assign beneficiaries, and how cash value works.
You may even want to have a few policy options narrowed down so your loved one does not feel too overwhelmed.
Tip #2: Have a Clear Goal in Mind
Before you broach the topic of life insurance, understand what you want out of the conversation. Is the goal to get your loved one to enroll in a plan? Or is it to simply plant the seed of life insurance in their head so they can make their own decision later on?
Create a plan to guide the conversation in the right direction. For example, if you want them to enroll in a plan, bring life insurance pamphlets and other informational materials with you. If you just want to get them started thinking on the topic, find a way to ease into it naturally, maybe by bringing up the recent death of an acquaintance.
Tip #3: Prepare Your Loved One for the Conversation
Never blindside your loved one with a topic as important as life insurance. It’s a topic that requires serious thought and discussion, so if they’re not in the right headspace, it’s not a good time to talk. Before diving in, let them know you want to discuss something a little heavy that’s important for both of your futures.
If they do not have the current emotional capacity for an in-depth discussion, see if you can schedule the talk for a later date. This might even give them time to do some of their own research on life insurance so the discussion is not one-sided.
Tips For Having the Conversation
Once you’re ready to speak with your loved ones, learn how you can keep the conversation focused and engaged.
Tip #4: Set Aside an Hour or More
Before you begin any discussions, ensure your loved one has the time for a serious chat. You need at least an hour so you have the time to walk through everything. Any less than that, and you might feel rushed trying to get through all your discussion points.
It might sound silly, but ask if you can schedule a date with them on their calendar. You can even plan to go out for lunch or coffee to make the talk a little less formal. Just make sure you are in a setting where you can have your loved one’s undivided attention — so leave the kids and other distractions behind.
Tip #5: Approach the Conversation as Family Financial Planning
Conversations about end-of-life planning have the potential to be quite emotionally involved. However, there are some approaches that allow families to bypass these difficulties.
Consider presenting life insurance as a financial investment that matures upon your death. Mention the comfort it can provide family members when you’re no longer around to offer your income. Life insurance gives them the income they need to live normally even when you’re gone, or vice versa. These practical reasons behind life insurance may take the sting off end-of-life thoughts.
Tip #6: Remain Empathetic and Actively Listen
You do not want to come off as cold and impassive during a discussion on life insurance. Doing so can make it seem like you’re only worried about money rather than the passing of your loved one. Instead, remain empathetic and actively listen to their concerns. Maybe they’re afraid they do not have enough money to commit to a policy. Or maybe they’d prefer to spend their money on their loved ones now, while they’re alive.
These are valid arguments, and they’re not something to scoff at. You might counter these arguments by explaining the affordability of a policy. It might also help to paint the picture of life insurance as a final gift for surviving loved ones — a grand gesture that shows how much they care even though they’re gone.
Tip #7: Determine Next Steps, Such as Speaking With a Licensed Life Insurance Agent or Broker
After you’ve convinced your loved one of their need for life insurance, be ready to provide them with the next steps. You might help them budget and get quotes. Perhaps they can commit up to $100 a month to a policy. Help them browse available plan options to see what types of coverage they can get at their preferred term.
A better option is to have an insurance agent or broker lined up. These experts can further explain the intricacies of life insurance and help your loved one pick out a policy that’s right for them. Using a broker is better than helping directly, as brokers have more experience and can serve as a neutral third party.
Putting It All Together
Though discussing life insurance can be uncomfortable, it is a crucial step for financial preparedness in the face of potential loss. From educating yourself on life insurance options, to setting clear goals and preparing your loved one for the conversation, carefully consider how you can have a thoughtful and considerate discussion with your loved ones. By approaching the topic as part of family financial planning and remaining empathetic throughout, the focus shifts from the discomfort of end-of-life thoughts to the practical benefits of providing financial support.