Insurance for the Family Man

Raising a family today much different, financially, than it was for our parents and, certainly their parents.  To begin with, men and women are waiting longer to get married and even longer to start their families.  Families today face many economic pressures that either didn’t exist for our parents, or are far more accentuated due to the changing social and economic environments. 

On average, people today are saving less, mounting more debt, taking on more responsibility for retirement and facing enormous college costs as well as economic uncertainty.  All of this weighs much more heavily on the family man of today than ever before. This focus on the family man is not meant to minimize the importance of the family woman who plays an equally vital role in raising the family, providing financial security and maintaining the household. 

Although it may not reflect the reality of many households today, the typical family, according to U.S. Census statistics is headed by a male who is the primary breadwinner. What is a reality is that the loss of either due to an unexpected death would have devastating consequences for the family.

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Men are Late Starters

Over the last couple of decades, men have continued to increase the time in which they delay getting married to the age of 27.  After marriage, the time in which it is decided to start a family is now postponed for 3 years. So, the typical family man is 30 years old when he begins to seriously take on financial responsibilities for his family. 

For most family men, their overriding concern is providing for their family by working hard, advancing their careers, and acquiring the trappings for a nice lifestyle.  Financial goals are set: Buying a house, paying for college expenses and retiring on time.  The critical financial need, ensuring that the family will be financially secure in the event of an untimely death, should be the first and foremost concern of the family man who has any concern for his family’s well being. 

Late Starts Can be Costly

Life insurance is the only financial instrument that can ensure that the family will have the capital it needs for its financial security. The time to consider the purchase of a life insurance policy is when it is most affordable and when it is easiest to qualify for it. At age 30, the family man should be concerned with the fact that life insurance rates begin to increase much faster than for a man in his twenties. Also, and much more importantly, the health risks begin to increase which could make it more expensive to acquire life insurance or impossible if a serious medical condition develops.

Planning Considerations for the Family Man

When getting the financial house in order, there are many factors that a family man needs to consider. Every family has its own needs, priorities and aspirations.  The future earning capabilities of the breadwinners need to be considered as well as the capacity to put away savings.   Careful and deliberate thought needs to be given to each aspect of a family’s financial plan. But, before a family can be building upward, it must lay the foundation which is in place to contend with any contingency. 

Life insurance is one of the major cornerstones of the foundation. In addition to relieving the family of debts and obligations, a life insurance plan should anticipate the ongoing income needs of the surviving spouse, especially if both incomes were required to meet the family’s living needs.  In addition to losing a portion of its income, the family is likely to incur additional expenses such as child care and house maintenance.   If a surviving spouse needs to return to the workforce or increase his or her earning capacity, there may be expenses for career development or additional education. 

A Family Man’s Insurance Plan

If the objective is to ensure the long term financial security of the family, a life insurance plan should reflect the worst case scenarios for planning.  Buying life insurance is about planning for the unexpected and providing for all contingencies.  While this doesn’t mean that a family man needs to go out and buy the most life insurance he can afford, it does mean that he should try to account for all possible contingencies his family could face. 

The amount of insurance should be based on a thorough analysis of the anticipated needs of the family in light of the resources that are currently available to meet those needs. Current assets and income sources should be weighed against the need to pay for final expenses, pay off debt, eliminate the mortgage, set aside funds for college, and to cover any income shortage for as long as the surviving spouse may need. 

The type of life insurance policy a family man chooses should be based on several factors such as budget, the planning time horizon, and whether he anticipates any changes to the family’s financial situation. 

If cash flow is limited, a term policy can provide maximum coverage at the lowest possible cost, however, consideration should be given to the planning time horizon. Term policies can provide protection for a period of time after which it can be too expensive to maintain, or it will expire all together.  A universal life insurance policy can provide affordable coverage while providing protection for as long as premiums are paid. The cash value savings element can be useful in later reducing premium payments or eliminating them completely.

If the planning time horizon is such that protection will be needed for an extended period of time beyond the dependency years, a permanent life policy may be more cost effective. Again, given enough time, the cash value savings can help in reducing the total outlay needed to keep the policy in force.

Throughout the typical family man’s life, he undergoes several changes and life events which may require that he be able to adjust the amount of life insurance to meet changing needs.  It may be more cost efficient to buy one policy that can be adjusted rather than multiple policies that can more expensive if they are purchased at later ages.  A universal life policy with an adjustable death benefit may be the right solution for young family men.


For both family men and women, the responsibilities of raising a family are made all the more difficult because of increasing costs, greater economic uncertainty and starting families later in life.  The best approach for any family is to plan early and get the financial security foundation built solidly to avoid unpleasant consequences later.

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