According to nonprofit LifeHappens.org, 100 million Americans — more than 40% of the population — don't have an insurance policy that will provide for their loved ones should they die.
Anthony Anderson, star of ABC's "Blackish" and spokesperson for Life Insurance Awareness month, finds that statistic "staggering."
Anderson, who grew up in Compton, California, watched his father sign his first life insurance policy, and followed suit when he turned 18.
"As a child growing up in the hood, hearing it's only going to cost me $12 a month to get $25,000, I was like, 'Sure, I'll sign up, I'm rich!'" he says. "The funny part of course was I didn't think it through: In order to collect the money, I had to die."
Once he did think it through, however, Anderson realized that he wanted to continue being covered. "Once I got the policy and got older, I was like, 'Wait a minute. This money isn't for me — it's for somebody else if something happens to me," he says. "That's how I learned the importance of life insurance. It's about taking care of the loved ones you'll be leaving behind in the event of your death."
Buying life insurance made Anderson's family unusual among their Compton neighbors. When friends and neighbors passed away, he remembers, some families would "go around the neighborhood and pass the hat" to amass enough money for burial. "Especially coming from the inner city, these are things we don't really deal with. We don't think 'future.' We're not thinking long term, about the what-ifs," he says. "That's why I kept [my life insurance policy] — I didn't want to be in that position, or want my family in that position."
When Anderson's father and brother passed away only a year apart from one another about 12 years ago, the life insurance "did exactly what it was supposed to do," he remembers. "My brother passed first, and my mother received a check for $50,000 to help her with what she needed to do." Although at that point, Anderson's family no longer needed the money, he says, "I saw the benefit in that."
In the years since his first policy, Anderson has taken out not only policies to benefit his wife and two teenage children, but also to benefit the charitable organizations who rely on his donations to continue running, like Charlotte's House, a home for abused women and children started by a family member. "I'm able to rest at night knowing not only is my family taken care of, but also these grassroots organizations in the city I'm still a part of will continue to sustain and help the people in the community because of a life insurance policy," he says.