How to talk about life insurance with friends
Tips for having an important conversation with those closest to you
A funny thing about life insurance: It tends to be something you talk about with the people you know most intimately, like your immediate family. Or it’s something you discuss with a total stranger, like a customer success person or, virtually, with the author of this article. But what about what some call the family you choose — your friends?
Whether you see them regularly, or only at weddings or during the holidays, or perhaps the occasional group trip or Zoom reunion, it can be striking how much you’ve gone through together — kids, marriages, perhaps some bereavements.
Here at Haven Life HQ, that combination makes us think about life insurance, and all the people who don’t have it. If you have a friend who has dependents but isn’t covered, you might want to talk to them about that — but how?
Although the process of acquiring term life insurance is often incredibly simple, talking about the need for it can be tricky, since it touches on death, money, financial situations and other things that not everyone likes to chat about. For that reason, we have some tips for how to broach the subject, and a few things to say once the broaching has been done.
In this article:
Set the rules of engagement
Before you begin, you should be prepared for a couple of things.
One: Be willing to answer any of the questions you might ask. Will you be asking your friend how they’d financially deal with the death of their spouse? Then you should be ready to answer that same query — it’s only fair, and it will make the conversation feel like a two-way interaction, not an interrogation or sales pitch.
Two: be ready to be rebuffed, and to be magnanimous about it. You may be talking to your friend about life insurance for their benefit, but that doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily want to discuss it. While it’s worth pushing a little, don’t do it so much that you upset or offend your friend.
Talk one on one. Or as a group
You know your friend better than we do, so you’re the best judge of whether they’ll respond better to the conversation if it’s just the two of you or if it involves a larger group.
One on one could make your friend feel less self-conscious about what can be an intimate discussion, or it could make the whole thing feel more intense and like a bigger deal than it needs to be. Talking about life insurance as a group can enable people to feel less on-the-spot and less alone when thinking about death, or it can make the person without coverage feel ganged up on if everyone else has it.
Keep the pros and cons in mind and consider what would work best for you and your pal.
Share your experience
We don’t mean you should spend the evening regaling people with your best anecdotes. What you should do is frame the life insurance discussion in terms of how you came to think about it yourself. Perhaps you got married, had a kid, saw the mess that was left when a friend died without coverage. Then tell your friend that it got you thinking about whether they had it, and that perhaps they should.
When you suggest to a friend that they should buy life insurance coverage, you’re basically talking about their untimely death, so if you can show that you got there by thinking about your own, it feels less like prying, less nosy, more we’re-in-this-together.
If you have life insurance, mention this and talk about how easy it was to get. (And if it wasn’t easy, tell your friend what mistakes you made or what terrible insurer they should avoid when looking for coverage.) If you don’t have coverage but are suggesting someone else should, be ready to explain this dichotomy: Perhaps you are childless, single, and generally opposed to love; maybe you think you’re too young to need life insurance. (Spoiler alert: that’s unlikely to be true.)
Keep some facts handy
Many people don’t have life insurance because they think getting covered is either expensive or a massive pain. For most folks, neither of these things is the case, but it will be easier to convince your friend of this if they don’t have to just take your word for it. If they’re a similar age to you and in comparable health, you could just tell them about your process and what it cost you.
If not, direct them towards the Haven Life quote tool. It can give them a life insurance quote in minutes, and help them start on their life insurance application. They’re likely to be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is, not to mention how affordable.
Remember your why — and theirs
For people who are youngish and healthy, another reason that they don’t have life insurance is that it just doesn’t seem necessary: Death seems far away. One of the most important things you can convey to a friend about life insurance is what it’s really for.
As we’ve all sadly seen over the last few years, sometimes people just die, even if they were healthy, even if it was unexpected. Life insurance exists so your loved ones have financial coverage in the event that they have to deal with the tragedy that your early demise would represent, and the final expenses that an insurance policy’s death benefit would cover. Doing this for your loved ones is a generous act, a gift.
Getting life insurance is also a gift to yourself: It gives you peace of mind, knowing your family will be taken care of in case the worst should happen.
And life insurance is also like a financial seatbelt for your kids, if you have them, and your partner. No one gets behind the wheel of a car with their children in it and plans to crash, yet no one allows their kids to ride in the car without a seatbelt either.
Feel free to use any of these arguments, depending on your audience.
Make it about family
Depending on your friend’s circumstances, you may find yourself suggesting that their partner (or even their ex) gets life insurance. If, for example, your friend’s partner is the breadwinner in their relationship, it would be important for that partner to have life insurance so your friend is financially protected if their partner dies.
If your friend has a child with an ex, it may well be that the ex should have a policy for the sake of their shared offspring. Your friend may not have considered this. Getting into this kind of thing can seem intrusive, but if you set out the reasons why it’s important in a factual way, it’s less uncomfortable. Again, you know your friend better than we do, and whether you want to tread into these potentially fraught waters.
Follow up – or don’t
Whether you return to the conversation at another time depends on a few things. Did you agree to give your friend some information? Did they say they’d think about it, and that you could chat some more? Did you make a good start on a productive conversation about life insurance, then get interrupted?
When you first talk to a friend about life insurance, your goal shouldn’t necessarily be for them to decide to get it there and then. Instead, it might just be the (very useful) beginning of a longer conversation.
And if they just don’t want to talk about it, then you may just have to accept defeat. Life insurance is very important, but so are friendships: Talking about one shouldn’t affect the other.
About Michael DavisRead more by Michael Davis
Our editorial policy
Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.
Our editorial policy
Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.
Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.
Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.
Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.
MassMutual is rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.
Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider, which is included as part of the Haven Term policy and offers access to additional services and benefits at no cost or at a discount. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made accessible under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners). For more information about Haven Life Plus, please visit: https://havenlife.com/plus
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