life insurance at the last minute?/wills/proxy
March 12, 2011 7:38 PM   Subscribe

Can I get life insurance, or something, at the last minute? Headed to surgery. The odds are pretty good, but is there some way to back myself up here? I know you can't "get health insurance on your way to the hospital", but can't you get insurance before a flight for example? It is just determining risk, and assigning a cost? I am 60, no spouse, no kids, self-employed, but have a few personal debts I don't want to leave behind. Then there are funeral costs. Or is there a way to start something now, that if I come through well, I can continue and build on? I'm in good health actually, should be around for awhile, and really should have done this long ago. A simple will, and health proxy? Printed out "Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare Decisions" and "Healthcare Treatment Directive". I live in NY Thanks
posted by ebesan to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you don't have a spouse or kids, who would be the beneficiary of your policy? Debts may be passed to the estate, but if you don't have anybody you're giving the estate to, who cares?
posted by Netzapper at 8:34 PM on March 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

How much insurance do you want? I would think you could get a policy that covers the operation and recovery for a short period of time if you "only" wanted $25,000 or so to leave this world all square and not a pauper. Are you a member of any trade association or professional organization? Usually you can get a small policy through them.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:48 PM on March 12, 2011

I don't think you can get one; not at a sensible premium and/or term anyway. Typical life insurance is a gamble from the insurer that you won't die; and they get to keep your premium and invest it for a long time. The hope is your accumulated premium + investment growth + inflation will be much larger than the payout. So technically, if you save, invest prudently and live the average life expectancy; you would be ahead compare to buying a life policy. Of course, the life insurer can offer you a rate a little better than that because a vast majority of their customers quits before the payout.

At your age, I don't think you will be able to afford the premium asked. The surgery will also make it difficult.
posted by curiousZ at 9:40 PM on March 12, 2011

I'm not in the US, but something that might help is funeral insurance, apparently known as burial insurance over there?

For Funeral Insurance, it's usually small amounts of money, 5 to 10 k? But it has no health requirements, you're usually covered for accidental death immediately (which surgery would count as hopefully?), and death of natural causes and even suicide after a stand-down period, of a year or two.

Once you're out of surgery, maybe you can look at longer term insurance options, or something like that. Good luck!
posted by Elysum at 3:49 AM on March 13, 2011

Best answer: Something you may not have considered. I know from an ethical sense you may want to settle your debts, and certainly if the worst happens there needs to be some money to deal with your funeral expenses. But if you have no dependents, the situation is different than if you were leaving behind a family.

If you die, your assets and your debts become the responsibility of your estate and whoever is the executor of your will. That is, your executor will discharge these obligations. He or she takes on no personal responsibility for the debts. Eventually, what will happen is that your assets will be liquidated as needed, the debts will be paid, and if there are debts that didn't get paid, those creditors are SOL. No one else can be held responsible, unless they co-signed with you.

For the funeral expenses, you might be able to arrange a cremation a lot cheaper than you think. I'd visit some places that handle this and PLAN something pre-need. Don't PAY for it pre-need. Hopefully, and probably, you come through. But if you've planned it and set up a budgeted price, whoever has to deal with this if you die won't get pressured (as much) by a funeral director.

For the rest of it, I'd make sure your will is in order, an executor is lined up (with access to your checking account), certainly get the living will and those matters squared away, and for the financial side - if you die, your executor will simply sell stuff, pay the debts as far as they'll go, and tell the others "so sorry." The creditors have no recourse to anyone else, unless someone else has cosigned a loan with you.

If this bothers you morally, consider:
- the creditors get paid to take the risks. It's called interest, and in unsecured stuff like credit cards, that payment is pretty high.
- frankly, if you buy life insurance now, you're just transferring the bag to the insurance company. I wouldn't do it for the purpose you're considering. I think it's more ethical to let your current creditors run their own race.
posted by randomkeystrike at 5:54 AM on March 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Call a life insurance broker. Tell them your situation. They'll either write you a policy or they won't. It's about as simple as that.
posted by valkyryn at 7:13 AM on March 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

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