Peace of Mind – Otherwise Known As Life Insurance – Winning JRC Scholarship Essay – Fall 2014

scholarshipCongratulations to Anna Caroline Buchanan, winner of the inaugural offering of the $1,000 JRC Insurance Group Scholarship!

Ms. Buchanan is a 17 year old senior at Eastside High School in Gainesville, FL.

The JRC Insurance Group Scholarship was established to not only serve the community by providing funds to the winning applicant, but also to help educate families about the need for life insurance.  Scholarship details can be found here.

We asked each applicant to write an essay about why a family breadwinner’s income should be protected by life insurance.  Anne’s essay cleverly and accurately captures the essence of the need for life insurance.  With her permission, we have published her entry below.

Congratulations and a job well done, Anne!

“Peace of Mind, Otherwise Known as Life Insurance”

If there was a smart phone app that provided your life with a safety net, you’d probably download it. It’d be manufactured by “Crystal Ball” software and available for free from iTunes. It’s purpose would be to calculate your probability for risks of anything from a bad day to an untimely death.

This new safety net app could provide you with peace of mind. You get that when you lock your house. You have some sense of protection when you lock your car. But what kind of protection do you have for your self worth?  When it comes to protecting your financial future against what can be catastrophic consequences brought on by illness and death is one of the most overlooked products – life insurance.

There are numerous insurance plans available, from term insurance that is purchased for a specific time frame to whole life that serves as a means for investment. You can learn a lot from insurance information online or from a life insurance agent. With today’s downtrodden economy, many who are struggling with their finances think they are saving money by skimping on life insurance. However, there are plans that meet most financial means, some even as low as a dollar per day that can provide you with thousands of dollars of coverage.  Why do this? It’s called peace of mind, rather like what might be achieved from that make-believe Safety Net app.  The bottom line is that there is no avoidance of risk. Reality happens. Bad things do happen to happy families.

At age 17, I’ll admit that I wouldn’t know anything about life insurance if I had not heard the stories from my grandfather who worked for more than 30 years as a life insurance agent.  Papa had a route in the rural south and sat on front porches of many black households holding an envelope for collections as he discussed what was then-termed as burial insurance.  Not all of his customers were black, but he often was the only white man walking around in black neighborhoods and visiting with black families in the early 1960s. Race aside, most of his customers had menial jobs; mothers stayed home or were domestics. Even without a lot of income, many of these individuals had religious convictions coupled with enormous pride of giving their deceased loved one a decent burial.  Insurance made this possible. Many of these households relied on one income to hold a family together – providing food, clothing, a roof over their heads, and the dream of going on to higher education. If that income was compromised, the outcome could be devastating. Insurance is like encasing your lives in bubble wrap. It provides that added protection.

Papa tells the story of one of his customers whose daughter died in a race riot in Chicago in 1968. This is a time in our history that none of us like to recall. But it was a life insurance policy on this young and zealous black girl that allowed her mother to have the financial means to bring her body back home for homage and burial. It was insurance that brought some closure.

When I accompany my Papa into the Piggly Wiggly grocery store in his hometown, residents approach with handshakes, pats on the back, an occasional bear hug. All remark that years ago, some front-porch time, some counseling about planning for the unthinkable, and a small manila envelope for premium payments made a difference in their lives. They all have stories that share one theme: Tragic things happen when you least anticipate them.

My Papa remarks that life insurance replaces the reality that you once had but it is now gone. Life insurance cannot replace a loved one, but it will replace the income that you may have depended on and it can help you keep your family intact. Life insurance benefits can help with all sorts of living expenses from covering a house mortgage to paying school tuition.

I am fortunate that my family is knowledgeable about life insurance and that provides me with some peace of mind as I’m contemplating my future and making college applications.  In my research to write this essay, it was interesting and alarming to review some trends  in the purchase of life insurance. Eighty percent of African Americans believe in insurance, and many purchase it because they deeply love their families and don’t want circumstances to cause financial burdens on others. Hispanics are more prone to purchase insurance as a means to guarantee a higher education future for their children. However, believing in life insurance and purchasing the product may not always go hand in hand, and there are so many who lack any understanding about life insurance in general.

While the days of the door-to-door salesmen may be diminishing, there is a wealth of information about life insurance online.  And maybe life insurance companies should create mobile Apps – call them “Peace of Mind.” Call them “Opportunity Knocks.”  Maybe one should blink with the words, “You Never Know.”  None of us can predict the future but having life insurance can protect you from whatever may happen in your own personal Crystal Ball of Life. It’s like having a safety net.

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