Insurance and Finance

An Agent’s Guide to Life Insurance

By Andy Crenshaw, as told to Haley Shapley 9.21.17

I deal with insurance topics day in and day out as a Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent. One of the toughest topics for people to talk about is life insurance. That makes sense when you think about it. It’s really one of the most important things, but often life’s most important issues — like health and death — are usually the ones people are afraid to discuss.

We avoid stepping on a scale because we know we need to change our lifestyle, we avoid going to the doctor because we fear hearing bad news, and we avoid considering life insurance because we know someday we will all leave this world. But sometimes, confronting the things that we fear head on is the best way to deal with them.

The Basics

The most common question I get in regard to life insurance is, “Do I need it?” The simplest way to determine that is to ask yourself if someone would be impacted financially if you were to die. If the answer to that is yes, you should have life insurance.

The next two questions are, “How much should I get?” and, “What kind?” There are a lot of online calculators that can help you determine your need, but the best way to ensure you’re getting adequate coverage is to speak with a licensed and reputable Agent. I recommend getting a referral from family or friends; it’s important to find someone you can trust.

When it comes to choosing a policy, there are two main types: term life insurance and whole life insurance. Term life is temporary, which means it covers a specific period of time — say 10, 20, or 30 years. Whole life insurance is meant to cover a permanent need, which means it will be there forever. Of course, this makes whole life more expensive because it’s guaranteeing your rate and coverage for life.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that the coverage offered by your employer is adequate; for most policyholders we meet with, it’s not.

Barriers to Getting Insured


Many worry that they simply can’t afford life insurance, but there are very few people, if they’re being honest with themselves, who can’t afford some kind of life insurance. That may mean you can only get a term policy as opposed to a permanent policy, and that’s OK.

Whether you have a term policy or a whole policy, the important thing is that you have it and it’s there to protect you. You can always start with a basic term policy now and upgrade to a better policy later as your financial situation improves.


Another common worry is that it takes a lot of paperwork to set up a life insurance policy. The truth is you really don’t need to gather any documents together to start the process. You will probably need to submit medical records, but you don’t necessarily need to get those yourself.

The one document I would encourage you to have, even though it’s not required for life insurance, is a will — especially if you have young kids. Without a will, you’re saying that if something happens to you, you’ll let the courts decide who your kids will live with, where they’ll go to school, etc. Get with a licensed attorney and put a simple will together for your own peace of mind.

The Time Is Now

It’s so easy not to worry about the future. In this day and age, we live in such a busy world — with work and family and kids and sports — that life insurance is something people put on the back burner because it feels so far away. The problem is that once you need it, it’s too late to get it.

I wish people could see what I see as an Agent — the struggle of a grieving wife who lost her husband or a young man who has to take care of his sister because their mom didn’t come home that day. Life insurance could never take away the pain of losing a loved one, but it allows you to grieve through that pain without the additional struggle of taking on a second job to pay your mortgage or going through another financial hardship.

Unfortunately, when you’ve lost a family member, the bills don’t stop coming. This is a time people want to spend reflecting alone or being near close friends, not a time they want to worry about money.

It’s also important to consider how expensive funerals can be. Everyone, understandably, wants to give loved ones a service that is a true celebration of his or her life. Having some money from life insurance can help you do just that.

Meeting Your Needs

I’ve always had life insurance, even before I became an Agent five years ago, for Texas Farm Bureau Insurance. Once you get into the business, though, you realize what your true need is — and what exactly this could do for your family in the event something happened to you.

I’ve seen the difference between a family who had life insurance and was able to continue to uphold the legacy of their mother’s business and a family without life insurance who was just struggling to pay the bills and setting up a crowdfunding page to pay for their loved one’s final expenses.

Don’t delay dealing with this important topic. The best advice I can give is to go talk to a licensed, reputable Agent, and to be honest, in that meeting, with yourself and your Agent. Hopefully, you’ll find a policy that fits what you need and helps you live your life without worrying about what could happen down the road.

Andy Crenshaw is a Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent based in Lewisville.

Coverage and discounts are subject to qualification and policy terms and may vary by situation. Life insurance products are offered through Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company. © 2017 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance