It’s a shame that she didn’t have life insurance. It’s a common phrase that people will utter to themselves and others when the news of a loved one’s death is followed by an announcement that money is being collected to cover the deceased’s burial costs. Literally, no one wants to be the person whose family has to rely on crowdfunding platforms to cover their funeral expenses. And while life insurance is sure way to prevent that from happening, life insurance is also an essential component for ensuring that loved ones are taken care of in your absence.
“Nothing makes yourself or your kids feel more secure than having life insurance,” Kelly Rowland tells EBONY. Rowland is the spokesperson for Life Insurance Awareness Month sponsored by Life Happens —a nonprofit organization committed to educating the masses on the importance of life insurance. The Destiny’s Child singer admits that for years, she failed to follow through with plans to secure a life insurance policy, and then, one day, a loving yet questionable look from Tina Knowles, a member of her shecosystem, changed everything.
“She just pulled me to the side and asked if I had life insurance and I told her in so many words that I wasn’t as on it as I should be,” Rowland recalls. “She just looked at me so crazy and that’s all it took was a look.” The exchange captures the essence of the “Black Magic” singer’s shecosystem in a nutshell. The tight-knit circle comprised of Rowland’s friends and loved ones help to keep her on track personally, financially, and professionally.
“You pretty much know who is in my shecosystem,” says Rowland. “Of course, Bey and Michelle. They’re counselors, sisters. They’re honest with me. When it comes to money, I’ll talk to my Mama T. or Serena [Williams] about it or Ciara about it. For business decisions, I talk to Lala [Anthony]. I have a strong, beautiful shecosystem with women who are wise. We ask questions when we don’t know something and it really continues to grow in interesting ways.”
Like many, Rowland and her husband, Tim Witherspoon, recognized the need for life insurance but did not immediately proceed with securing a policy. Prior to obtaining policies, Witherspoon did not even wish to board the same plane as his wife if their sons Noah and Titan were not present out of fear that something would happen to them and their kids would be left as orphans. In hindsight, Rowland admits that some of their reluctance to insuring their lives stemmed from the fear that talking about life insurance will somehow trigger tragedy. “We fell under the spell that a lot of people fall under, which is that we don’t want to talk about it because then you’ll bring it on,” Rowland says honestly. “That’s genuinely what scares people. They don’t want to think about what may happen. There’s a lot of fear put on life insurance, but not enough trusting of the future.”
For those who are on the fence about following through with purchasing a policy, Rowland would say one thing: just do it. “You got to prioritize it,” she admonishes. “I would tell them not to look at it as a stressful thing. Look at it like anything else in life you know you need to take care of. “It wasn’t presented to us in that way. It never has.”
Another barrier that tends to discourage people from obtaining life insurance is the perception of cost. A 2021 Life Insurance Barometer Study by Life Happens found that many overestimate the cost of insurance, which then becomes a deterrent.
“The biggest misconception is that it’s expensive,” Faisa Stafford, President and CEO of Life Happens tells EBONY, adding that the average person overestimates the cost of insurance by three times or more. The best thing to do, says Stafford, is to consult with a financial advisor. An advisor can inform you of the various forms of life insurance available that can best fit your needs as well as your budget.
As a rule of thumb, if you’re a parent or you have someone who relies on your income, a good starting place is a policy that covers your income times 10. The rationale is that your dependent will have 10 years’ worth of your salary as a cushion should you pass away.
“Make sure that whoever depends on you is going to be protected,” Stafford empasizes. “Life insurance is a love letter. It’s saying, ‘I love you and my love for you will never die. Here is proof of that. I made sure that your future is protected.'”
Insurance can also help to cover debt, college expenses, a partner’s retirement and more. The best way to estimate how much life insurance you may need prior to meeting with an advisor is to consult the Life Insurance Needs Calculator, which is available for use free of charge on the Life Happens website.
“Come to us. We’re only here to educate,” says Stafford. “Like Kelly said, you’re protecting the idea of a future no matter if you’re there or not.”
To learn more about Life Happens, click here.