What Types Of Insurance Do I Need To Protect Myself And My Family?

Paying for insurance is something I believe everyone should do because it transfers the monetary risk of a catastrophic event from you the insured, to the insurance company.  The insurance company banks on the fact that most people aren’t going to have a major event in any given period, and because of the fact that most people don’t, insurance companies end up bringing in a lot of money.  (Yes, there’s a reason why many of the huge buildings in metropolitan centers are owned by insurance companies)

On the other hand, if you do have an accident, a negative health event, or if you pass away, you and your family will be extremely glad you’ve been paying those premiums.  The insurance is your safety net while walking the high wire of life.

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At our house we have been blessed to have good health insurance ever since we got married. In the past 3 years my wife has had various health issues which have lead to over $250,000 dollars in medical care.  In our first year of marriage I had to have my appendix taken out.   In the end because of our  surgeries and health events we’ve spent close to $300,000 dollars over the past 7 years.  For us having that health insurance means that we didn’t end up in bankruptcy.     For you it could mean the same thing, or it could mean having your family be provided for in the case that you pass on unexpectedly.

What Types Of Insurance Should I Have?

What types of insurance you carry  depends upon your personal financial situation, and whether you’re secure enough to self-insure.  If you’re not to that point yet, here are some of the most important types of insurance to have:

  • health insurance
  • life insurance
  • disability insurance
  • long term care insurance
  • homeowner’s insurance
  • auto insurance

I did a video this past week talking about my “personal finance tip” for Get Rich Slowly’s 2010 video contest.   My personal finance tip was a reminder to everyone – “Don’t Forget The Insurance!“.

Health Insurance

I think that health insurance is one of the most important types of insurance to carry.   The stats of people who go into bankruptcy or huge debt because of medical debt is staggering.  My wife and I have seen first hand just how much money you can spend when you have a health crisis.  In our case we’ve spent well over $300,000 at hospitals since we’ve been married, and since we’re having our first child this year, it’s going to be another expensive year!  Health insurance can be extremely expensive, but when you consider the alternative, it is definitely worth it.

So where can you find health insurance coverage?  Usually the first place you should check is with your employer.    They are usually going to have some sort of a group plan that you can opt in for, and it will give  you much lower rates than if you were to buy on your own.

If you don’t have that option available, you may want to consider getting a HSA or Health Savings Account.  An HSA basically gives you a tax-exempt savings account to pay for your own health care expenses.  It is usually paired with a high deductible insurance plan that covers major health care expenses (including types of preventive care, maternity care, and pediatric primary care).

Whatever  you decide to do, it’s a good idea to have some sort of coverage.

Term Life Insurance

This is one that I’ve thought was a good idea, but didn’t pursue until I found out we were expecting our first child. Now that I know we have  another family member to provide for, it’s way past time that I got life insurance to help them out in case of my untimely demise.

Good term life coverage isn’t that expensive nowadays, and I was able to get ten times my income in coverage for only around $50/month, provided my health exam goes well.  (I have it next week!)

Disability Insurance

Another important type of coverage to have, for many of the same reasons as having life insurance. If you’re incapacitated and aren’t able to work, who is going to provide for your family? Having own occupation long term disability insurance will allow you to be sure that your family is protected in case you get hurt and are disabled to some degree.

check with your employer to see if they offer any type of coverage, and if not, shop around to find the best rates. Again, it shouldn’t be that expensive, but if you need it, you’ll be glad you had it.

Long Term Care Insurance

If you’re 60 or over and in relatively good health, you may want to get a long term care insurance policy. The costs of living in an assisted living facility can be astronomical, and if you don’t have insurance it can run through your savings in short order. Having an insurance policy will mean you’re covered and your family protected in case you need to move into a facility.

Are there other types of insurance that you think people should have? Do you have all these types of coverage? Tell us your thoughts or experiences with insurance in the comments!

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Last Edited: 5th December 2011

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  1. says

    Good stuff Peter! I referenced insurance as one of the pillars of financial stability in my latest contribution on One Money Design. I called it the “bitter pill”…we know its good for us, but sometimes still hard to swallow. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. says

    Nice post.

    I’m not sure what 10X your income is or how long your contract is for, but $50 a month should buy you a lot of term coverage. I pay only around $12 a month for $250,000 of coverage. I just want to mention that because you can get a lot for a very little when it comes to term life insurance.
    RJ Weiss´s last post ..Weekend Reading / One Link Edition

    • says

      My coverage will cost a bit more because I’m a bit overweight currently and could stand to lose a few pounds. The coverage i’m getting is more than twice what you mention above for $12/month.

  3. says

    Nice summary, but I’d argue that you should put a higher priority on private disability insurance. As a young and healthy person (especially after you lose those few extra pounds ;-) you are far more likely to have an interruption of income than to die in the years ahead. How would you get by if you were unable to work for 6 – 12 months?

    While more expensive than term life insurance (on a comparable basis), disability insurance protects you from a far more likely risk. Like life insurance, premiums are fairly low if you are young and health, and you allow you to lock-in insurability. Plus, my clients that have had to request benefits all tell me that the security it provided was what helped them maintain their financial and emotional sanity during a very challenging time. While you may be able to obtain a policy via your employer, there policies usually offer limited benefits and are generally not portable if you change jobs.

  4. says

    Peter,

    Just found this site and really enjoy reading your articles. As a financial advisor I would highly suggest people purchase a quality own-occupation, Non-Cancellable and Guaranteed Renewable policy. Insuring your income is one of the most important things you could do for your financial security. If you become disabled and no longer able to earn a paycheck how would you pay for your health, life, auto, or home insurance? It really is a matter of whether you want to insure the Golden Goose or the Eggs. Obviously insuring the Golden Goose (Your Income) is the foundation of any financial plan.

    Unlike term life insurance, auto, home, and even health insurance…disablity insurance can be difficult to compare. Many people make an incorrect assumption that all disability insurance policies are the same when in fact a few words added to or missing from a policy defintion can drasticaly change the protection the policy provides. I would highly reccomend you check our disabilityinsurance.quoteretriever.com where we help our clients compare all of the a-rated disability insurance products in the country.

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