Americans Encouraged To Get Serious About Assessing Their Life Insurance Needs

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Actress and former Saturday Night Live cast member Molly Shannon won't be looking for laughs this September. Sharing her family's story of loss and financial struggle, she hopes to encourage people to get serious -- about protecting their family's finances. Ms. Shannon is this year's national spokesperson for Life Insurance Awareness Month, an industry-wide campaign coordinated by the nonprofit LIFE Foundation.

Ms. Shannon was just four years old when she was in a car accident that took the lives of her 33-year-old mother, her cousin and younger sister. Ms. Shannon survived the crash, along with her father and older sister, but her father was badly injured in the accident and was unable to work for several years. Her mother, a school teacher, didn't have any life insurance coverage, which could have helped alleviate some of the family's financial strain. Even today, Ms. Shannon remembers the sacrifices her dad had to make in order to provide for his two daughters.

"The accident changed our lives dramatically. In an instant, my dad became a single parent and the only breadwinner for our family. Even at a young age, I was well aware of the financial and emotional stress he was under," she said. "People don't like to think about bad things happening to them, but putting off the decision to deal with that possibility can have serious consequences."

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Married with two young children, Ms. Shannon considers life insurance a necessity that enables her to live her life with peace of mind, knowing that her loved ones will be taken care of no matter what the future holds. "My personal experience led me to start thinking about life insurance when I first became pregnant. Now I can't imagine not having it in place as a financial safety net for my family," she said.

Ms. Shannon plans to share her story during September through public appearances and interviews with newspapers, magazines and radio and television stations around the country. A video message from Ms. Shannon can be seen on LIFE's website at www.lifehappens.org throughout the campaign. In addition, she will help boost industry excitement for Life Insurance Awareness Month at the annual convention of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors in Washington, D.C., on September 10, 2007. That same day, she will join industry representatives and notable lawmakers at a reception on Capitol Hill to emphasize the importance of public policy that encourages Americans to purchase life insurance.

"Molly's story is a prime example of how life insurance could have made a huge difference for a family had it been in place before tragedy struck," said David F. Woods, CLU, ChFC, LUTCF, president of the LIFE Foundation. "No family should have to experience tough financial consequences on top of the emotional strain that comes when a loved one dies, yet 68 million adult Americans do not have any life insurance and millions more lack adequate protection. We are delighted that Molly is lending her voice to encourage Americans to take action now to get the life insurance coverage they need to protect their families."

In addition to securing Ms. Shannon's participation in Life Insurance Awareness Month, LIFE will spend millions of dollars in September to help educate consumers about the benefits of life insurance and working with a qualified insurance professional. LIFE will sponsor a series of radio public service announcements, post new life insurance content on its website and blog, conduct aggressive outreach to the consumer news media, and spend millions on online and print advertising, including the annual realLIFEstories special section in the September 10, 2007 issue of Newsweek. LIFE will also announce the winners of its third annual LIFE Lessons Essay Contest, a college scholarship program in which students write essays and submit videos recounting the financial and emotional impact of losing a parent at a young age.

Each year, more than 100 leading insurance companies and industry trade groups participate in Life Insurance Awareness Month and collectively spend millions of dollars on a wide range of marketing communications efforts to increase public awareness about the importance of life insurance. Some of the nation's top companies participating this year include State Farm, AEGON, New York Life, MassMutual, John Hancock, Penn Mutual, Guardian, AXA, Principal Financial Group, Nationwide, Southern Farm Bureau, COUNTRY Financial, Farm Bureau Financial Services AIG/American General, and Prudential.

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