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Bruce Sackrison

Bruce Sackrison is a Napa Valley Register columnist who will write about property and casualty insurance matters.

Life insurance is a mystery to many people. And the mystery can cause mistakes.

My new series will focus on four big mistakes people make with life insurance. This week, let’s look at the first mistake: Not enough life insurance, or none at all.

How many people have life insurance?

Almost 60 percent of adults in America carry some form of life insurance. Much of that is employer-sponsored term insurance.

Many of the already insured say that they don’t have enough.

Among the “no life insurance” group, one in five say that they need life insurance.

In short, there are a lot of people who have no life insurance, and a large group of people who don’t have enough.

And I believe that’s a serious mistake. Here’s why:

Everyone should have life insurance.

Life insurance creates an instant legacy.

It’s truly an unselfish gift of love. You’ll never see the relief on the faces of loved ones who benefit from your careful planning.

But your generosity will live on for years in the lives of those close to your heart.

The legacy ought to replace a lifetime of earnings and also fulfill loving wishes for family that can extend for decades.

But most people don’t have enough life insurance to accomplish that.

Life insurance isn’t just for “mom and dad.”

Even if the kids are grown, you can leave a legacy for your grandchildren. A good start in life. Money to give them the freedom of educational choices.

Life insurance can also extend your generosity to many others long after you’re gone.

Do you have a charitable organization that you’ve given time and money to? Imagine your final breath meaning the continued life of an organization that serves your neighbor in need.

“I get life insurance through work. Isn’t that enough?”

Work-supplied life insurance usually falls into the “not enough” category.

It’s only good as long as you work at the same job. In addition, the amount of coverage is usually small, typically just a year or two’s salary.... hardly enough to replace a lifetime of earnings.

You can convert it to a personal policy after you quit, but usually at a much higher price.

“I’ll wait. I can always get it later.”

Putting it off, even for one day, can have a disastrous affect. Why?

Because only healthy people can get life insurance. And none of us are guaranteed good health tomorrow. It works like this:

“When you don’t need it, you can get it; when you do need it, you can’t.”

Procrastinating Paul

Paul (our fictional character of the week) was a young man who fell in love and was ready to get married.

He had never thought about life insurance before. He was single. Why would he?

But now, getting married, it sounded like a great idea! He’d get around to it... eventually. No rush. He was young, healthy, and going to live for years.

Paul and his wife had a child. And then another.

Life insurance? Sure. Some day. He had forever.

Until the day they found the lump.

Rare, they said. Chemo, they said. A fight to survive.

Suddenly, his procrastination took his choice away.

Life insurance became the gift he wanted to give his family if things went badly. And it became the gift he couldn’t buy at any cost.

My advice:

If you are like many folks, you may not have enough life insurance.

Don’t be embarrassed. Call your trusted local agent and have an informal chat about it.

Make sure today, while you still have your health, that the dreams of tomorrow are protected.

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Bruce Sackrison is an insurance property and casualty broker affiliated with Professional Insurance Associates. He is at 707-931-0186 or