Life insurance awareness month: From collecting change to buying time (part 3)

This blog is part 3 of our life insurance awareness month series. 

For Jenny Craig, who describes herself as a “tech insurance/marketing nerd” (and “not the diet lady”), the passing of her parents brought into high relief what happens when life insurance either comes or doesn’t come into play.  

“When I lost my mom, she was 57 and I was 33,” recalled Craig, a 10-year industry veteran and senior marketing operations analyst & manager at EIS. “When she found out she had cancer, [the doctors] said, ‘You have four months to live.’ And the sad part of that is I’m losing my mom, I’ve got my little kids. And my dad had actually cancelled her insurance policy because his children had all grown up and moved away.” The situation actually thrust the family into fundraising mode, as they launched “Pennies for Penny,” named for her mother.

The experience led to change of a different kind.

With her mother’s illness, Craig said she learned a valuable lesson: “Life insurance wasn’t just about paying the bills. It was about buying time to grieve, time to heal, and having the space to do so.” When her father passed recently, circumstances played out much differently — and for the better. 

“He was younger as well and just retired a couple of months ago,” she said. “And the one thing that was different this time is that he had everything set up: He had life insurance. So he was looking out for us. I had to manage his estate and having the life insurance was really helpful. It took care of things right away.” 

Yet the insurance didn’t just tend to practical matters; as Craig sees things, it tends to family as well. “It’s for our loved ones, my kids, my family and my extended family for when I leave. It just gives them that time and space to heal. So I can worry less and live more. Basically, it provides a peace of mind. I sleep better at night knowing that they’re still going to be taken care of when I’m gone.”

Taken care of better than ever, in fact. After reflection on her experiences as a daughter, Craig decided that the time had come to buy more life insurance — a lot more — as a parent.

“I’d lost my mom as an adult, so I couldn’t imagine what would happen if my kids lost me,” she said. “I want my husband to be able to stay home. Then they don’t have to worry about anything [financially].”

Yet if life insurance provides a sense of serenity, it also demands expediency. Craig stressed that it’s too easy to put off the decisions and actions that put policies into motion. Thus when talking to friends and loved ones, this insurance professional draws on the personal.

“Don’t wait until you can’t get it or it’s too late,” she said. “It’s the best thing that you can do for somebody: a gift for your family and your friends. Really, that’s what it is. It’s not that expensive or costly. And have your own — not just insurance through your company.” Countless news stories, she noted, have detailed how job losses related to COVID-19 took away whatever employer-based life insurance many people had — and counted on  — to cover them. “Having an independent policy that’s yours to take with you, past when you retire, is important. 

Over time, Craig says her attitudes about life insurance have broadened. At first, she embraced its practicality and utility. Next, she saw it as a way to provide. Today, she sees it as nothing less than a way to make love visible.

“Before it was more of just a function of, ‘It’s going to pay the bills,’ right? But now it’s much more than that. It’s love: the thought that I’m still taking care of my family when I’m not here.”

EIS is a proud sponsor of a Life Lessons Scholarship organized by non-profit Life Happens.

For more information on to apply for or sponsor a scholarship, please visit www.lifehappens.org/scholarship

Life Happens is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping consumers take personal financial responsibility through the ownership of life insurance and related products. The organization does not endorse any product, company or insurance advisor. Since its inception in 1994, Life Happens has provided the highest quality, independent and objective information for people seeking help with their insurance buying decisions. To learn more, visit www.lifehappens.org.

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