Does Batman Need Life Insurance?
By Ric Edelman
Which of the following people are most in need of life insurance: Spiderman, Batman, Fred Flintstone, Harry Potter, or Marge Simpson?
The Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education asked that question to 1,000 Americans in a nationwide survey. What’s your answer? Careful -- what you respond says a lot about how much you know about life insurance.
The most common answer (28% of respondents) said Spiderman has the greatest need for life insurance. Wrong! Although I imagine that people figure Spiderman is the most likely to die (thanks to his daredevil antics), the truth is that Spidey does not need any life insurance. Why? Because Peter Parker, Spiderman’s alter ego, earns little income (he occasionally sells photos of Spiderman to J. Jonah Jameson, editor of The Daily Bugle, for $300 apiece) and has no children. Peter’s wife, a successful actress, is not financially dependent on Spidey.
Batman came in second, with 18% of the vote. Wrong again. Batman -- a.k.a. Bruce Wayne -- is the wealthiest man in Gotham City. The founder of Wayne Enterprises has no wife and no children, and his ward, Dick Grayson, stands to inherit Bruce’s entire estate (although Bruce’s loyal butler Alfred might get a piece). Clearly, Bruce -- er, Batman -- needs no life insurance, although estate planning certainly is in order to avoid estate taxes.
Harry Potter? Although 15% said Harry Potter needs life insurance, let’s remember that Harry Potter is a…teenager. This kid doesn’t make any money and lives at a private school that seems to cost nothing to attend. He’s not just an only child (unless additional characters were introduced in subsequent books; I never finished the second installment), he’s an orphan as well. Since no one is going to be adversely affected (financially, that is) by Harry’s death, he doesn’t need any life insurance. Yet 15% of those surveyed thought otherwise. But won’t he need money to pay his funeral expenses? Nah. He’ll just be buried in Potter’s Field. (Sorry. Couldn’t resist.)
Sadly, only 16% said that Fred Flintstone needs life insurance. Yet Fred is a married man, the father of a young child, Pebbles, who likely will want to go to college when she grows up. Fred’s wife Wilma is a homemaker, totally dependent on Fred’s income. What will she and Pebbles do if Fred is killed at his construction job?
Finally, we get to America’s favorite mom, Marge Simpson (how’s that for social commentary!?). Like Wilma, Marge is a stay-at-home mom. She earns no income, which perhaps explains why only 11% said she needs life insurance. But that 11% is correct: Marge (like Wilma and homemaker moms everywhere) has a huge need for life insurance. Why? Because she’s raising the kids and running the household and, if she dies, Homer will have to pay people to do what Marge is doing for free.
This survey shows that most people do not understand how to properly analyze their need for life insurance. In short, life insurance is designed to protect against a financial loss: If there is no such loss, there is no need for life insurance. But if you are financially responsible for the well-being of other people, then there is a very real need for life insurance.
Fred Flintstone needs life insurance. So does Marge Simpson. Harry Potter does not. Neither do Batman nor Spiderman (although the latter could use some disability insurance, but that’s another story).
Congratulations to the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education for its very clever survey.