My stay at home husband needed life insurance even without income

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  • The death of a loved one is a tragedy that takes time before returning to a full work schedule.
  • The unpaid work of a stay-at-home parent can cost far more than your household income.
  • A life insurance policy can cover your expenses while you take time to grieve.

I got a call one Friday afternoon in the fall of 2021. “They’re bringing grandma home,” my mother said. “They don’t think he’ll make it through the weekend.”

My grandmother was old, but her sudden decline was not expected. I saw him just a few weeks ago and he looked great. With no time to prepare, I quickly emailed my editors and posted an out-of-office reply. I drove two hours to be at my grandmother’s bedside.

He died Sunday morning. Although my aunts took care of the arrangements, the entire next week was full of family demands and of course grief. Even after the funeral, I felt distracted and unable to concentrate on work. As a freelancer with no family or bereavement leave, I stressed how taking care of my emotional needs would affect my bottom line.

And even through that fog, I had a sad thought: My husband needs life insurance yesterday.

Buying life insurance for my husband was an afterthought

I became the primary breadwinner when my second daughter was born. After years of dragging my feet, I bought life insurance. I had the peace of mind knowing that my husband and daughters could stay in our home and go about their daily lives if I died. My husband was a stay-at-home dad at the time, so I wanted to calculate the amount that would allow him to stay home with our kids for at least a year.

While it was very simple to put a number on my salary to replace if I died, it was not so simple for my husband. It did not bring income, but it definitely worked. In fact, recent estimates put the cost of being a stay-at-home parent at about $184,000, more than I make in a year.

I knew my husband needed coverage. But somehow, because she wasn’t bringing cash into the household, life insurance was less stressful for her. And because life got busy, it kept getting pushed to the burner.

I realized that my income would suffer if he died

My grandmother’s death moved life insurance to the top of our to-do list. I realized that if my husband died, not only would we lose all the benefits of being a stay-at-home parent; we would also lose part of my income.

I had seen my monthly income drop after the death of my grandmother, who I wasn’t particularly close to, and whose death was somewhat expected. I couldn’t imagine what would happen to my ability to provide for my family if I suddenly lost the love of my life.

My husband had a similar reaction to my grandmother’s death. It made the need for insurance even clearer to him. Within a month of his death, she was getting her physical insurance.

We talked about what we wanted from insurance

There is some debate about how much life insurance stay-at-home parents need. It’s not as simple as picking 10x their annual salary or any other suggested benchmark.

My husband and I had honest conversations about the coverage we needed and the cost of the premiums. We thought our youngest was close to starting kindergarten, so our childcare costs would be lower if she wasn’t there to babysit. We also thought about how long it would take me to stop working to take care of myself.

We ended up with a policy that would allow me to grieve and establish a new normal without having to worry about money right away. Now I know I can temporarily put finances on the back burner and focus on my family’s emotional health if disaster strikes. It is well worth the monthly premium we pay each month.

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