I hate insurance. I hated every type of insurance that exists: car insurance, health insurance, cell phone insurance, homeowners insurance, renters insurance. And don’t you dare try talking to me about life insurance… You name it. I hated it.
First of all, insurance is just another expense JUST IN CASE something happens. I don’t for sure NEED it, right? It’s just there in case something goes wrong and premiums are paid no matter what. I truly hated the concept of paying for insurance. It felt scammy. It felt wrong to have to pay for something that I may not ever use–especially if it’s expensive! For example, my out-of-pocket health insurance premium is about $350 per month. And~ the co-pay is about $80 per visit–this is how much I have to fork over BEFORE I am even seen by a medical professional. It’s straight robbery!
I’m telling you, I hated them all. Want to talk about insurance? Just don’t do it.. I’d either shut down or have my dukes up ready to fight. Not kidding. The subject matter boiled me up and pissed me off.
Until one day… When I got a call from my mom. I answered her call, and she was in tears… Her exact words were, “I got the check.” I was so confused and asked, “What check, mom?” Her reply was “The life insurance check for dad. They said I can do whatever I want and need to with it, and that it’s 100% TAX-FREE.” “What??! Are you serious, mom?” yelled Uyen Nguyen. “Yes, $100,000 is completely tax-free like cash, con gai (‘daughter’ in Vietnamese),” replied my mom in utter relief.
I don’t think you understand what this meant for my mom. Let me take a stab at painting the fucked up picture my mom had to deal with. So bare with me here as I brush on the honest bull.
My parents escaped Vietnam with nothing in 1979 by boat. My mom worked her butt off and on her feet all day as a cosmetologist and my dad was a technician. They didn’t make a lot of money but their mental strength and discipline to save for their American dream of owning a home was unbreakable.
In 1996, they decided to buy a life insurance policy from Transamerica. They wanted to make sure that most of the mortgage would be covered if something happened to one of them and that the entire mortgage would be covered if something happened to them both. They each got a $100,000 whole life policy. My parents wanted to make sure that my brother and I didn’t ever have to worry about having a place to call home. They took the time to think about us to insure our security. My parents are so rad and I’m so grateful. Sadly, most people and parents even don’t (want) to think about this. (Trust me, I get it. I was once guilty of the same oversight before I was personally hit with this exact experience.)
Fast forward to 2013, my mom received an envelope marked “URGENT” from Transamerica. She opened it to the words of my dad’s policy lapsing due to nonpayment. My mom freaked out and couldn’t do anything about it–because it was after business hours! Just imagine… She had been paying for this policy, month after month since 1996 and my dad had checked into the emergency room 23 times in the last 3 years of his life and was in no condition for insurability for a new policy. My dad at this point had been unemployed for 6 years, and EVERYTHING was on my mom. We had no employee benefits so my mom was paying all medical bills completely out of pocket on her income as a hairdresser. Imagine that.
But there’s more… After a sleepless night, my mom called Transamerica first thing in the morning, all to find out that my dad had mailed a letter instructing Transamerica to cancel the policy. Sadly, my dad was chronically ill and depressed. He was no longer himself in the last year of his life and it was hard to witness. I can’t explain why he did what he did, but the fact that he did it was all we needed to know to initiate corrective measures–or at least try to. My mom was in total panic. There were 6 months of nonpayment and she begged the customer service agent to please help her. My mom was put on hold for what felt like forever. The agent got back on the line and gave my mom an out. She was given the opportunity to pay the policy up for the total premiums due to reinstate the policy. Thank you, Transamerica! (See why I’m forever grateful?)
About six months later, on July 29, 2014, my dad passed away. And the phone call that my mom made to me was the turning point of my entire life. THIS was the very moment my hate for insurance took a complete one-eighty. First of all, I couldn’t believe that the death benefit was for real. Secondly, the fact that death benefits are tax-free was an eye-opening life changer! What in this world is tax-free? Nothing! So I thought. We are taxed every time we buy something — and even when we die! This whole experience opened up my eyes to the world of tax-sheltered savings and ways in which one can outsmart taxes. It was like my gateway drug to an illegal outlet, except better: it was a gateway organic superfood to tax-free savings strategies that are legal.
I went from hating life insurance to absolutely loving it, from never wanting to ever talk about it to not being able to stop talking about it. And to think that I haven’t even unveiled the juicy 7702 tax code and how dope that is and how it could work for you (and your family). The reality is: no one likes to pay for insurance but when something goes wrong, we’re relieved when we have insurance and it’s covered, right?
But you don’t even know or understand… Until you’ve been personally affected. I know my parents’ story and dad’s passing were meant to be learned from. Although my dad wasn’t the same in his last years and as much as he changed, he was a total gift and so is the importance of his story. May this story be the gift that keeps giving to everyone who reads this and shares this story onwards. May it give you the courage to learn more about how to protect your loved ones (and your money from Uncle Sam) while time is in your hands and the opportunity to (wo)man up is right now.
© 2019-2020 by Uyen Nguyen