Life Insurance: The best financial decision of my life

Life Insurance: The best financial decision of my life

When Andrew Green started having fits of coughing, he didn’t think much of it. But they insisted and he went to the doctor.

Tracy Harrison Green

happy memories: Tracy Green, who lost her husband Andrew, used her life cover to make mortgage payments

Within six weeks he was told he had a tumor in his right lung. Just nine weeks later, 43-year-old Andrew, a well-respected local soccer player and family man, passed away.

His wife, Tracy, 39, says she will always be indebted to St Leonard’s School in York for the care they gave Andrew in the last days of his life.

For three days, my husband took me back to the hospice. It was almost pain free. It made his death a little easier, though I still miss him terribly.

Andrew’s popularity is emphasized by the fact that hundreds of mourners attended his funeral at York Crematorium.

His death in 2009 left Tracy to raise their son, Jacob, 12, who had just started high school, while working part-time as a customer assistant at Tesco.

She is greatly helped by her mother, Rosemary Harrison, 75, who lives with her and sees Jacob go to school when Tracy is in an early shift.

Tracy has also helped with the crucial financial decision she and Andrew made after their marriage, which means at least she doesn’t have to worry about paying off the mortgage.

The £47,000 mortgage the couple took out when they married in 2003—they had been together since 1995—was automatically paid off when Andrew died due to a life cap Tracy had bought at the same time.

She paid £10 a month for a Tesco-branded diminishing range guarantee, which promised to pay off any outstanding debts on the death of either she or Andrew.

“It was one of the best financial decisions I’ve ever made,” says Tracy. Although I receive a small pension from the University of York, Andrew’s old employer where he was a cleaner, times are hard.

But I don’t know how I would have coped if I still had the mortgage to pay. I would encourage anyone, especially those with young families, to get life insurance.

But Alan Lucky, income protection specialist at Highclere Financial Services in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, says Tracy is in the minority.

Few people, he says, understand the value of life cover, even though the UK’s competitive market means its cost remains the lowest in the world – even less than Japan where people live an average of two and a half years.

“10% of the people I meet understand the need for coverage and buy it without fuss,” says Lucky.

Another 40-50% only buy it when a neighbor or close friend dies and suddenly realizes that they are not immortal. The rest don’t believe it, or can’t stand it, or, more often than not, think they can’t stand it when in fact they can.

Research to be released this week by insurer Aviva confirms Lucky’s point. The report, conducted by Mintel, says 39% of adults — about 20 million people — do not have some form of financial protection — whether it’s life insurance, critical illness coverage, income protection, or an in-service death benefit. provided by the employer.

And even if someone gets a raise at work, they’ll save it, and use it to pay off debt or heal their family rather than buy a life cover.

Tomorrow Aviva will launch a television campaign starring Paul Whitehouse from the BBC’s The Fast Show, aiming to highlight the importance of covering life.

The ad features a “deceased” Whitehouse watching as his family goes about their daily errands – with a daughter going off to university and a son enjoying swimming lessons.

The aim is to prove that life insurance can make a real difference to families when a parent dies.

Louise Cooley, Head of Defensive Marketing at Aviva, says: “Every 29 minutes, a child under the age of 16 loses a parent in the UK. Yet millions of families still struggle with a lack of financial protection.

With this ad, which aims to make an emotional connection with parents, we want to address the traditional barriers that prevent people from obtaining life insurance.

“Instead of people saying ‘we can’t afford it’ or ‘we don’t need it’, we instead want them to sit down and take action.

“It’s a bold approach we’re taking, but people have told us they need to be asked — and even shocked — to put the life cap in place.”

>guardian How to find the cheapest life cover deal

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