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Sense & Sensibility

Insurance: Perfect Gift for Picky Givers

December 15, 2010
By Kathleen Felong

Kathy Felong
Kathy Felong

It’s that time of year. Every newspaper bulges with sales fliers, and every television commercial hawks the gotta-have gadget of the season. So who can you really turn to for last minute gift ideas that break the mold?

Gather round.

Our family has a tradition of sharing unusual gifts. Consider, if you will:

  • Two ceramic pot-bellied mice on a log (from my hubby), meant somehow to signify our marital state (or perhaps our physical one).
  • A 1,000-piece puzzle of American presidents that has been regifted annually, unopened, since before “W” took the Oval Office.
  • A coupon formalizing unlimited driving privileges in a 1999 Buick Century, tinted matronly maroon.

That last gift elicited an initial groan from the college-age recipient that we understood to mean “Thanks a lot, Mom and Dad! I love you with all my heart!” But added to the coupon was half a year’s insurance premium payment for the cash-strapped student.

Let’s face it — many Americans have more than they can manage when it comes to creature comforts: iPhones and iPods and iPads, Vera Bradley bags and Sperry topsiders, Xbox and Wii and Rock Band and Glee (not to mention the perennial Christmas favorites, Snuggies and Slankets in every fashion color, football team logo and animal print known to humankind).

And yet, the non-mainstream gifts, like those in our family, aren’t always instant favorites. With so much clutter in Christmas giving, is there a way to give a gift that’s both memorable and meaningful? 

Don’t laugh. You may want to consider insurance. Here’s why:

  • A life insurance policy for your child, grandchild, godchild or childlike adult may become a gift that keeps on giving. A small policy on its own won’t provide a big return, but it will do something important – protect your child’s future insurability. This becomes important should a serious health issue develop or accident occur later in life.
  • A bike (and a helmet) – If your loved ones can two-wheel it to work or school the old-fashioned way, this gift scores triple points for reducing insurance premium costs due to less regular auto usage, curbing carbon emissions and burning those holiday calories.
  • Renters insurance – If you’ve got an adult son or daughter on the move to independence, consider fronting them the premium for renters insurance. Their precious cargo will be protected and you’ll be gifting them with an important lesson — take care of your things.
  • Umbrella – Not the one for a rainy day — although the foldable ones make nifty stocking stuffers. We’re talking about insurance coverage that extends your liability coverage beyond the limits of your homeowners or auto protection. For the person who has everything (or a lot of things, anyway), personal catastrophe and liability coverage is a worthy way to self-gift.  

Talk to your ERIE Agent about which insurance products apply to your situation now — and later. Should you find some big ticket items under the trees, like jewelry, musical instruments, high-end tech gadgets, you might want or need additional coverage to protect them.

Happy Holidays!

Kathy Felong is an editor for Erie Insurance and a former journalist. She lives in Erie, Pa., and now has a separate credit card and a really nice guest room. E-mail her at