There are few things that annoy me more than cold callers and email spam. I work from home and I have done for many years and this, combined with the fact that I also own many websites and online businesses means I am constantly inundated with phone-calls, email spam and even door-to-door salesmen trying to sell me stuff I don’t want. Anyone who works a 9 to 5 office job escapes most of this chaos, because. Those of us at home during the day are at the epicenter of it.
The strangest thing about this spam is that it seems to come in waves and I can’t help but think that my activities are being bugged and that the advertisers are trying to tell me something. As soon as I bought my own house, even though it was the very house I had been renting for many years, I was flooded with requests from local double-glazing, decking and landscaping companies. As soon as I rescued a couple of cats, a cat grooming parlor decided to open just over the road and apparently decided that I should be its biggest customer.
This has happened for years now, and as a small part of my brain battles with the fear that I am part of some grand, global Truman Show experiment, the rational part just gets angrier and angrier. When I was 21 and a full 4 years into this spam epidemic, I started to receive a lot of calls and emails about life insurance. At first, I thought they just made a mistake. After all, why would a 21 year old need life insurance? After a few months, I started to think that maybe they knew something I didn’t. Now, a good 12 years later, I’m learning that it wasn’t an isolated case and that many young people are, in fact, getting life insurance.
And that got me thinking: just when are you too young to get life insurance and are the young people just the victims of aggressive sales tactics (because, as a rather abrupt salesman once told me, “You could drop dead tomorrow and then what?”) or are they doing the right thing?
How Old Before you Get Life Insurance?
The first time someone tried to sell me life insurance was when I was 21. They had caught me in a good mood and I didn’t want to hangup and be rude (that attitude didn’t last and now they’re lucky if they get past “hello”). I told them I was too young and they tried to convince me that they were 18 and they had life insurance.
It was a bizarre argument and one that culminated with me asking who would get the money if I didn’t have kids, didn’t have a partner and didn’t really like my family (not entirely true – I wouldn’t reach that realization for at least another 3 years). When she hesitated, I told her that I really loved my rabbit, at which point she tried to convince me that little Beatrice would get to live like a queen while her owner rotted like a vegetable.
And this really is the main point: age doesn’t come into it. It’s all about responsibility. If you have someone to leave something to, then life insurance is probably a good idea. If you’re young, care-free and stupid as I was, and if you’re not making enough money to even meet those monthly premiums, then life insurance is as superfluous as a timeshare (and like a timeshare, the only time you benefit from the deal is when you die and they can’t take anymore money from you). If you have a job, some kids and all the other fixings of normal adult life, then life insurance is definitely beneficial.
My apparently 18 year old caller may have been a hard-working mother of three who worried about how her little ones would get through life if she failed to do the same. More likely, she was a lying little so-and-so who couldn’t sell candy to a fat kid, but it is possible for 18 year-olds to be in that position and if they are, maybe life insurance is viable.
The experts say that the “optimal age” for life insurance is 35, which means I have 2.5 years of complaining left before I think about succumbing to the spam. However, more than half of the people who take out new policies are older than 45. Life insurance is significantly cheaper when you buy younger, so you could argue that buying now will set you up for later in life when those responsibilities do arrive, but the extra money you spend on a policy between the age of 18 and 35 is likely to be considerably more than the amount you would save by buying after the age of 35.
What About Wills?
The will thing is a little more straightforward. I haven’t been put off writing a will because I have yet to be spammed into doing so, although now that I’m writing about the subject and putting this information out there, I’m sure the spam gods will change that. I have also been on the other side of what happens when absolutely no estate planning, power of attorney or will writing has taken place.
When my mother passed, my father spent 6 months juggling paper work and getting increasingly stressed over the issue. He had been warned, by me mostly, but even I couldn’t have anticipated how much red tape would be involved. If you’re struggling to get over the death of a partner, the last thing you want to do is spend the next 6 to 12 months fighting for money and property. In his case, there were no disputes, no other family members that had more rights than he did, yet he still had to go through that chaos.
A will prevents this, and it’s also easy to write. As long as it’s signed and witnessed, then it’s legal in most countries and the family can be saved from all of that. The same goes for a power of attorney, if a family member is ill as my mother had been, the process is not only easy, but essential. In the end, we didn’t need to use it (thankfully) but if it had come to that and we didn’t have the power of attorney, it could have been messy.
These things are hard to think about, especially when young, but none of us know what’s around the corner. If you have responsibilities – an estate, a family, something for others to inherit – then you need a will no matter how old you are.
And although I am reluctant to admit it, the same can clearly be said for life insurance.