The Importance of Your Year-End Insurance Checkup

Nancy J. Hite, CFP, Fiduciary and Author, The Retirement Mirage

You get a physical at least once a year to make sure you are in good physical shape.  You should also get a life insurance checkup once a year to make sure your coverage gives you and your family all the protection you need.

Get it done now, before the end of the year.  The sad truth is that more people die at the end of the year than any other time.  Most people have auto insurance, home insurance and health insurance, but many over-look “final expense” insurance.  Final expense is the insurance policy that pays for your funeral expenses and all the related costs. 

The average funeral costs according to the NFDA (National Funeral Directors Association), including burial is $7,360. If you get a vault, that average rises to $8,755. It’s very important to point out that this does not include a plot and headstone. A burial plot typically costs anywhere between $700 and $2,000 for public cemeteries and $2,000 to $5,000 for private cemeteries.

Add this all up and you can see that the average cost of a decent funeral can easily hit $15,000 or more.

Due to Covid and seasonality factors, we may have a particularly deadly January in 2022.  The seasonality of death — more deaths in the winter, fewer in the summer — is a well-known public health fact.

Even if you think you might live to 100, and I hope you do, the time to be financially prepared for the costs of a funeral is now.

Sociology professor David Phillips conducted research on this subject by analyzing 57 million death certificates and made an interesting finding: 

Not only do more people die in the winter months, but New Year’s Day is the deadliest day of all. Phillips plotted the millions of deaths from natural causes according to the day of year on which they occurred, and this is what he ended up with:

The deaths are being driven generally by illness, disease, and old age, rather than by accidents or homicides or any other non-health-related cause.

The truth is that none of us may know how long we have on this planet.  When we say our final good-byes, we want to make certain we are not a financial burden on those who love us.  

On the day of an funeral, we want people to be celebrating our life and not passing the hat to chip in a few thousand dollars to help pay for the person who was so poor they never factored in their own funeral expenses.  

“More people die on Christmas, the day after Christmas, and New Year’s Day than on any other days of the year,” Sociologist Phillips writes.  So be prepared.  Get your final expense insurance coverage now.

Hopefully you won’t need it for many, many years but when it’s needed, it will be available.

People typically spend a lot of time with friends and family members around the holidays. It is sad how these most joyous times of the year can turn into the most tragic when a family member dies at a family event or shortly. 

The pain of losing a family member is bad enough without the added burden and embarrassment of trying to figure out who will pay for the funeral and its many costs. 

Final expense life insurance is available for low rates now. Take action so that you will never have to worry about this issue again.

The end of the year is also a great time to take a look at all of your life insurance policies. Many “Life Events” take place in a year.  

Are some of your old policies outdated or maybe not even needed anymore?  What life changes took place in the last year?   Did you get married or divorced this year? It may be time to remove that ex- spouse as a beneficiary on your million-dollar life insurance policy.

Did you move or change jobs? Did you buy a home or business? Was there a new addition to your family this year? Did you receive an inheritance or a gift?  Any one of these changes can mean that it is time to buy new insurance, cancel an old plan or upgrade your coverage. 

Recently, the AARP did a survey, to explore whether adults were comfortable discussing end of life issues and whether they expect to take steps to ensure that they are prepared. Most respondents indicated that while death and dying weren’t discussed during their childhoods, they now understand the importance of facing this inevitable final chapter of life with a positive attitude and preparing for it.

Meet with a skilled financial advisor or insurance expert for an\ once-a-year insurance review.  This can actually be quick and painless.  You will have tremendous peace of mind when you know that all of your insurance needs are covered. 

Double-check that your policies and beneficiaries are up to date. 

Review premium costs—you might be able to save thousands of dollars per year.

Consider whether your insurance needs have changed. Several factors could impact the cost and availability of life insurance, such as age, health, and the type of insurance purchased, as well as the amount purchased. Life insurance policies have expenses, including mortality and other charges. Work with a financial advisor to keep these expenses low while still getting high-quality insurance.

Remember that guarantees associated with a policy are dependent on the ability of the issuing insurance company to continue making claim payments.

Nancy J. Hite is a CFP, Fiduciary and author of The Retirement Mirage. For more information, visit

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