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Life Insurance: Taking Care of Those Who Are Left Behind

Richard Baker took care of himself. He and his wife, Dee, both worked out regularly — and had even run some marathons. They were vegetarians, non-smokers and only had a rare drink on special occasions.

In his mid-50s, Richard felt and looked healthy right up until the moment when doctors discovered a cancerous football-sized tumor that had stealthily grown on his kidney.

“I am a biology professor, so I don’t sugarcoat things,” Dee said. “The minute I heard the diagnosis, I knew he was a dead man walking.”

Amid the crushing news was one silver lining. The Bakers were well prepared for the unexpected with life insurance from Erie Family Life. 

Protect what matters most with affordable and flexible life insurance coverage.

Planning Ahead for Peace of Mind

In 2014, the Bakers had worked with their ERIE Agent, Joe Miller, to make sure they had enough life insurance coverage to provide financial security for the surviving spouse and their two young daughters.

“Richard was more than a customer, he was a good friend,” Joe said. “It was extremely humbling to play a part in putting together a plan for this man to take care of his family in his absence. Unfortunately, I can’t replace the great dad, the husband, the son. But we were able to take away a lot of the potential financial hardship for those he left behind.”

The Bakers were motivated to get life insurance, in part, by the fact that each had lost their fathers at a young age.

“I was 7 when my dad died and my girls were 7 and 9 when Richard died, so I have been on both sides of this,” Dee said. “We were both very pragmatic when it came to life insurance. So many people operate in a vacuum assuming bad things won’t happen to them. We knew they could.”

Richard Baker poses for a family photo with his two daughters.

Richard Baker and his daughters

A Secure Financial Future

Of course, knowing what could happen didn’t make experiencing it any easier. Richard received the diagnosis in May 2018. While he underwent treatments to provide him some more time, he passed away on Thanksgiving Day 2020. He was at home, Dee at his side.

“Even when you have things in order, the first year after your spouse passes away is an absolute nightmare,” Dee says. “You are so distraught and mentally and emotionally tapped out from being a caregiver to someone with a terminal illness. I can’t imagine how much worse it would have been if I also had to worry about a financial struggle.”

The Bakers had been wise with their money, focusing on living debt free and making investments. That discipline, along with the life insurance money, has put Dee in a position of knowing she and her daughters have a secure financial future.

The life insurance money for the girls was put into a trust that they can access at age 30. Dee is able to make withdrawals to cover expenses such as braces and, eventually, college tuition.

She received the payout from the policy almost immediately after Richard’s death with minimal paperwork and no waiting and wondering when the money would be distributed.

Don’t Put Off The Conversation

While sharing her story is painful, Dee takes every opportunity to urge friends, family and colleagues to take action now to make sure they have adequate life insurance coverage.

“A lot of people don’t want to have those conversations. They don’t want to deal with their own mortality,” Dee said. “I get that, it’s not a pleasant conversation, but it is one you need to have.

“My message to people is make sure you have your ducks in a row and your back porch clean. I know people in similar situations who have no life insurance and it’s a real struggle. Becoming a single parent is hard enough without having to worry about if you have enough money to make it and provide for your family.”

Ready to make a plan for your family? Learn more about different types of life insurance or talk to a local ERIE agent to get a free, no-obligation quote.

ERIE® insurance products and services are provided by one or more of the following insurers: Erie Insurance Exchange, Erie Insurance Company, Erie Insurance Property & Casualty Company, Flagship City Insurance Company and Erie Family Life Insurance Company (home offices: Erie, Pennsylvania) or Erie Insurance Company of New York (home office: Rochester, New York).  The companies within the Erie Insurance Group are not licensed to operate in all states. Refer to the company licensure and states of operation information.

The insurance products and rates, if applicable, described in this blog are in effect as of July 2022 and may be changed at any time. 

Insurance products are subject to terms, conditions and exclusions not described in this blog. The policy contains the specific details of the coverages, terms, conditions and exclusions. 

The insurance products and services described in this blog are not offered in all states.  ERIE life insurance and annuity products are not available in New York.  ERIE Medicare supplement products are not available in the District of Columbia or New York.  ERIE long term care products are not available in the District of Columbia and New York. 

Eligibility will be determined at the time of application based upon applicable underwriting guidelines and rules in effect at that time.

Your ERIE agent can offer you practical guidance and answer questions you may have before you buy.