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Learning the insurance world: it’s a grownup thing to do

Figuring out life as an adult often requires some un-learning (or re-learning) of things we thought we knew. As my husband and I researched our insurance options last year, we were surprised to learn which kind of coverage we actually needed to best manage our risk.

Your needs might vary from ours, but we thought showing you what we learned in the process might help you reevaluate your coverage, too.

Our journey to figuring all this out began in the last couple of years, as we bought our first house, got serious about debt-free living, and realized the need to be realistically prepared for the worst. It’s the kind of stuff I hate to even think about (we still need to get that will written up—cringe), but it’s just all part of growing up.

Life insurance

Our biggest lessons have come from life insurance. We were amazed to find that with better coverage, we’re now actually paying less to be worth more when we die.

In the recent past, we basically just let our agent figure out our needs; we didn’t really understand the coverage options ourselves. After a little research, and with help from the insurance section of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, we made a few simple changes that have a big impact.


  • only David (my husband) was insured
  • he had term coverage for three times his income
  • we had a return of premium


  • both of us are covered with separate policies
  • we have term coverage for eight times his income
  • there’s no return of premium

Adding a policy for me. This first change might be obvious to you—we knew if something happened to him, I would need his life insurance coverage since we live off his income alone. But we didn’t initially think about what it would cost him to raise our kids without me (since I stay at home with the kids). We needed a policy for me, too.

Higher coverage. After really looking at the numbers, we realized that three times his income wouldn’t actually be enough, especially after we bought a house. It wouldn’t even have covered our mortgage!

Return of premium is a gimmick. It sounds good—you get your money back if you don’t die at the end of a set time frame. But the truth is, you could be saving (or investing!) that money you’re spending to have that “feature” instead.

So here we are, paying $5 less per month for David to have higher coverage, plus adding a policy for me for a reasonable premium. Sounds good to us!

car in driveway.jpg

A few more of our insurance lessons learned

For the car:

Make sure you have a high uninsured motorist policy. My parents and I learned this lesson the hard way when I was in an accident with an uninsured driver years ago.

For the home:

If you have an HOA, study their insurance policy to see what they cover, as that’s one less thing you need to have covered on your policy.

Bundle discount:

We have all our policies—life for both of us, home owners’, earthquake (we’re in California), and car—all through the same company. This provides decent discounts.

So much so that when we got a quote from an ELP provider (a reliable provider endorsed by Dave Ramsey’s team), the agent honestly told us that they couldn’t match our insurance rate because of the bundle—and that we should stick with the company we had.

And it’s certainly simpler to talk to someone about each of our policies at one place.

Simple tips for navigating the confusing insurance world.

Insurance is confusing, so we’re finding it’s one of those things that’s worth taking more time to learn well (we’re grownups, right?). We’re able to simplify things and get more for our money just by wading through the gimmicks and mumbo-jumbo with a little sound advice.

If you need quotes from reputable, trustworthy providers—and you’d like to see how they match with what you already have—you might find Endorsed Local Providers to be a great starting place.

This post is sponsored by Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Providers.

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  1. Shelly

    Great advice. Our church does a Dave Ramsey financial workshop occasionally; I’d really like to get to one. You’ve convinced me that my husband is not the only one who needs life insurance. It would be mighty hard for him to pay for childcare for ten kids should something ever happen to me.

  2. Pam

    I think this worries me in the background like white noise, it is just always there. We are lucky to have our cars under the company but the rest of the insurance is a blur to me. Thank you for the post because in the end it is just a matter of making a checklist and talking with someone you trust and doing the best you can with what you have.


  3. Sarah Westphal

    We are completely under-insured. Thanks for the timely reminder. With 4 kids 4 and under…I can’t see how my husband could afford childcare with me dead.

    Thanks Nicole!

  4. Stefanie

    I agree, great advice! We have some life insurance through my husband’s employer, but need to look into getting more coverage for him and a policy for myself. As for all of the other insurance stuff, we have ours bundled with the same company for a discount and pay annually for another discount.

  5. Cori

    Oh how I love to hate insurance! 😉 This is timely for me, as we are looking to move and increase our mortgage, therefore we are looking into increasing our life insurance. I hate it, but I also think it’s important.

  6. Sharon

    I am so thankful that my husband purchased life insurance on me right after we were married. I wasn’t working at the time, nor did we have kids yet. I am now a stay at home Mom. The most important reason I’m so thankful to already have life insurance on me? I was diagnosed with Cancer last year at the age of 34. Cancer does not run in my family. I’ve always been healthy. It was a shock. Anyways, I can only imagine if I tried to get a life insurance policy now, I’d either be ineligible, or my rates would be unaffordable.

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