Why Having Life Insurance is so Important, a True Story.

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Normally I tend to write on more upbeat topics, but lately I have begun to remember in vivid detail something that happened to me some years back. I believe this article is long overdue from me, mainly because the additional stress and suffering this incident caused to me at an already difficult time, could have been completely avoided if my late Husband had not panicked over our finances and had at least kept his various life insurances in place.

A few of my regular followers may have read an article I wrote a few years back called Bowel Cancer Stole My Husband at 48 Years Old. This was the true story of how I lost my first Husband just two weeks after he had been diagnosed with advanced terminal bowel Cancer. I was just 33 at the time, and far from prepared to be given such news.

Apart from two weeks spent largely by my dying Husband's hospital bed, I had the added panic that he was self employed as a Chauffeur Driver and I was a housewife, therefore we had no savings or income to support ourselves if he wasn't working. What was worse was that he had declared himself bankrupt back in August of the same year, but prior to that he had been so desperate to avoid bankruptcy that he had simply gone to the bank and cancelled every non-essential standing order and direct debit he could. Unfortunately for me these standing orders and direct debits included three life insurance policies, which less than four months later would have proved lifesavers to me at least.

It is for this reason I am writing this article, so that anyone who has a family or other dependents, makes sure they realise the importance of life insurance being in place if they are not to cause their surviving family additional stress on top of the stress they are already going through as a result of grief.

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At the time my Husband was taken ill we lived together in a large rented farmhouse in New Romney in Kent in England. We had two dogs, one cat and three ferrets, and my Husband Dave's two Sons were adults and lived elsewhere. Our bills were not huge, we didn't go out drinking or anything like that, but even then Dave would work many hours to make ends meet, and had previously had to borrow a substantial amount of money from my Mother to keep our business from going under. He fully intended to pay this back, but sadly went bankrupt regardless of the loan. He would still have paid her back privately, but like all of us he did not foresee his bowel Cancer coming, nor how fast it would take his life.

You would have to read the full hub I linked to before on how brave he was when told of his diagnosis. He told me himself he had been a fool, and I know he was referring to having cancelled his life insurance. During those two weeks I ironically received a standard letter from the bank which offered the option to reactivate one of the policies by paying the lump sum to bring the premiums back up to date. Dave would have needed to sign the forms, which at that point he probably could have done, but apart from the fact I was scared this might be fraud as I now knew he was terminally ill, I was also faced with the impossible, i.e. how do you ask your dying Husband to sign forms to bring his life insurance back up to date? Needless to say I didn't do it, even though later my brother in law told me I would have received over £300,000 if all three policies had still been active.

Macmillan Cancer nurses were a Godsend to us. They paid a few basic household bills whilst I was at the hospital by Dave's bed, and this took the immediate pressure off. This was not to last of course, and even on the day my Husband died (at home), the local DHSS turned up for a meeting I had forgotten about, and quickly told me they doubted the benefits department would pay for me to stay in the rented farmhouse we had.

Ultimately I was forced to move in with other people and run their small plant nursery on a £50 salary per week basis. I had to re home our ferrets, and give up my own small business because it required the land the rented farmhouse provided, (as well as the fact it was a young, as yet non profitable growing business). My Husband's eldest Son Neil (and the majority of his family), turned into nasty spiteful individuals overnight, completely disregarding any of the loving care I had shown to Dave, even conning me out of his Mercedes Car and an expensive Camcorder I had bought as a gift for him a year or two prior to his death, (see my other article for the whole story).

So much of my struggles and stress could have been avoided if the life insurance had still been in place. I was emotionally falling apart, devastated that not only had I lost the one true love of my life, but also I had no money and no home, not to mention the fact his vicious family were doing all they could to destroy me. How on earth I didn't commit suicide I will never know for sure, but I can only assume it was my sheer love for my pets and my family, and knowing I couldn't let them down.

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Thanks to Dave's Brother I had discovered that two of his pension plans would pay out a small lump sum. I gave half of this to my Mother to go towards what Dave had died owing her (or I should say we owed her). The rest I kept for emergencies, but it was only about £7000, and this soon got eaten up when I made the effort to return to Guernsey and ended up getting back with an ex of mine from my teenage years (a complete control freak). I was not entitled to a Widow's pension because I was well under 45, so other than the small lump sum I got from the pension plans, I only received another £168 per month for the following three years, (from a former employer of Dave's). After the three years this dropped to the level it is today, about £5 per month.

My 'Control Freak' said he saw no point in life insurance, as once he was dead he wouldn't care about anyone else anyway! What a sick and selfish way to think. At least in my late Husband's case he only cancelled the payments on his life insurance because he couldn't see any other way to cut down the outgoings, never guessing he was going to die only months later.

Please please please, if you have dependents do the decent thing and ensure life insurance is in place (unless you are already independently wealthy). I cannot begin to describe the stress and anguish the lack of this put me through. There simply was no money, debts piling up such as household bills, no time to grieve properly, just the strong desire to curl up in a corner and pray the world would go away. Don't put your surviving family through this, plan ahead, You never know when your time is going to be up, and it could be weeks ahead as opposed to the years you might expect.

Life insurance is not about your family being greedy, it is about you wanting them not to struggle or have to endure additional and avoidable stress in the event of your untimely death, and them wanting to be able to grieve without having the worry in the background of what happens next and how they can cope. In my case even the funeral had to be paid for by my late Husband's Brother and Sisters!

Although some years later now I am remarried to a second good and decent man, I still have my first Husband's picture on display in our home. My current Husband is fine about this and understands that you never stop loving a person just because they have died. I know my current Husband will never let me go through the same trauma of coping with bereavement with no security (in the form of life insurance policies) in place. Do this for your partner too if you really love them.

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Comments 14 comments

kerlynb profile image

kerlynb 4 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^

"So much of my struggles and stress could have been avoided if the life insurance had still been in place." - Geez, you're so brave and kind to be telling us all these. I can't thank you enough. I have to learn from the lessons you shared here.

Some life insurance plans are a bit expensive though. But a finance guru said that people like me who would just want absolute protection for their loved ones in case they die should go for term insurance. Term insurance is pretty affordable and good enough to cover the needs of beneficiaries for a few years after a breadwinner's death. The sum assured of the term insurance, the guru said, should be around five times the annual salary of the breadwinner at any given time.


diogenes 4 years ago

Revealing, honest article, Missy. It's a pity insurance companies are such greedy entities, because married people with kids do need life insurance. It's a bit like a lottery in reverse, the only winners are the loosers. I do object to some of the insurance scams, like selling the aged policies with no cash value; in more cases, just to insure they get a decent burial plot.

You've had quite a life, girl! Take care...Bob


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 4 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Hi kerlynb, I haven't heard of 'Term Insurance', but it does sound like quite a practical option for people with little surplus income. Certainly I wish so much that my late Husband had found a way to pay for the life insurance he had to remain in place. Several years of premiums went out of our bank account for nothing, not one penny to come back, simply because he cancelled the policy only months before he died. It really would have made such a difference, and I just can't recall a time in my life I was ever more stressed than when he died and I realised I had nothing to survive on, and no way to pay the rent, but needed to grieve.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 4 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Hi Bob, you are right in saying that the worst part about life insurance is the only winners are the losers. I guess for the person who dies or is dying, they at least have peace of mind that their family will be okay if they know they have life insurance in place. I just had to keep telling my Husband not to worry and that we (the pets and me) would be okay, even though I was literally terrified inside as to how on earth we would be okay in reality.

The scams are terrible, especially the burial plot type ones you describe. I hate the idea of some poor older person being ripped off just because they want a proper burial.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 4 years ago from Upstate New York

Good article. You're a brave one, Misty. It's tough to pick up the pieces after being widowed and left destitute at such a young age. You're so right about life insurance, if you have dependents.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 4 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks Paradise, it was really tough and totally scary, but luckily I survived to tell the tale. I just hope it prevents someone else from having to go through what I went through.


Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 4 years ago from St. Louis

That's a tough story, Misty. Sad too, that he passed so soon after being diagnosed. Those two week must have been like an anvil dropping on your head. I'm especially glad you pulled through and had a chance to start over.


waynet profile image

waynet 4 years ago from Hull City United Kingdom

Yeah I've got some life insurance already in place and a plan of action for all of my online assets should the unthinkable happen. I know certain people daren't think about stuff like this, but your message is a good reminder of us to do it now before it's too late!

Take care Misty!


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 4 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks Christoph, it was a very tough time, I guess I went around in a sort of autopilot daze at the time. I am glad I pulled through too though, as there are so many good things I would have missed out on since if I hadn't.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 4 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Hi Waynet, glad to hear you are being organised, as like you say, many people 'daren't think about this stuff', but effectively they are burying their heads in the sand, and it is too late to take out life insurance once diagnosed as terminally ill, or dead.


Howard S. profile image

Howard S. 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas, and Asia

Picking up Kerlynb's comment about term life: The other option is "whole life," which is more expensive and rarely any more appropriate than term life.

That rule of thumb for calculating it, however, is incomplete. It sounds OK for someone who might leave a spouse and young children. The amount of insurance should gradually decrease as the financial void left by the deceased decreases. When the nest is empty, there's just the mortgage and funeral expenses (plus any other debts), assuming the spouse can work to earn his or her own living.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 4 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Ahhh, thanks for explaining that Howard. I still think a lump sum would have been more reassuring in my situation, as I could have moved back to Guernsey where my family were, and possibly bought a small place to live where I would have felt secure. By then I would have had a year or so to recover and return to a working environment and had my family close by for support.


Howard S. profile image

Howard S. 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas, and Asia

I didn't make that clear enough to avoid misunderstanding. Upon death, the beneficiary can still get a lump sum (or other options chosen at that point).

With term insurance, what decreases as the insured ages is the total value of the policy. Mathematically, the insured's age and policy value are inversely proportional.

For example, when I signed up for a new employer this week, $120/yr would get $500K coverage under age 30, $200K at 40, $75K at 75, and $10K at 70. I simplified that some, skipping both age and coverage increments.

Yours is a sad tale, but I'm glad you have survived it.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 4 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

I see, that makes sense. Thanks for explaining it in more detail. I guess that would work for a lot of people very well.

Thanks again :)

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