The unspeakable: Discussing life insurance with a spouse

By Maryalene LaPonsie Posted : 11/30/2010

The unspeakable: Discussing life insurance with a spouse Death is not a popular topic at the dinner table. For married couples, the idea of a spouse dying may seem unbearable.

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However, life insurance is critical to protecting the financial future of your spouse and children. For this reason, it's crucial that married couples discuss this type of coverage.

"Couples who discuss life insurance as part of planning for their financial future are more likely to be on the same page regarding their financial expectations and plans," says David R. Quinn, director in internal sales support at State Farm Insurance.

Nearly one-third of couples do not have life insurance, according to a 2010 study from LIMRA, an insurance research organization. That is the highest percentage of households without life insurance coverage in 40 years.

Most people understand the importance of having a life insurance policy, according to findings of a survey conducted by State Farm Insurance.

Results reveal that 85 percent of respondents believe life insurance is important for both working and stay-at-home parents.

Still, many people prefer not to discuss life insurance. Among survey respondents:

  • 74 percent rarely or never talk about life insurance with their significant other
  • 64 percent of women say they are too stressed out to discuss life insurance

Beginning a life insurance discussion

The best time to talk about life insurance is before your family is faced with a crisis situation.

Discussing life insurance after a layoff when tensions are sure to be high is more likely to cause hurt feelings than talking when your finances are stable. In addition, it may be too late to secure affordable coverage following the diagnosis of a serious or chronic illness.

To avoid miscommunication and misunderstandings about life insurance, Quinn suggests sitting down with a third party.

"Bringing in a knowledgeable expert can help couples get that outside perspective," he says.

A third party also can give couples a better understanding of their life insurance options and help them make the right decisions for their family, their needs and their budget, Quinn says.

Once a discussion is under way, begin by setting a budget and learning more about your life insurance options.

"Couples can start small with planning," Quinn says. "It can be overwhelming to put together a plan that is long-term, but if you start with small steps such as educating yourself about life insurance or setting up a monthly budget, it can set the stage for larger changes and next steps later on."

When tackled in small steps, the process of buying life insurance can be an opportunity for couples to come together in support of their common goals.

"Life insurance discussions can focus more on love and care of the family and less about the sadness behind losing a loved one," Quinn says. "Taking care of your family's future is a positive focus for any couple."

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