Share Your Story Submission: My Introduction To Life Insurance

As a youngster I spent a great deal of time either living or visiting my grandparents in the small southern town of Newburg, Maryland. I have vivid memories of the “insurance man” who went door to door in our family community. His visits were always met with excitement by me and my cousins. Whatever we were doing, be it gazing at clouds, running wildly through the woods to find a honeysuckle patch, or playing tag, we would always stop to race back to the house to greet him.

His name was Mr. Deek, and he always brought a pocketful of candy for us while he and my grandmother caught up over coffee. I remember asking my grandmother why she gave him money every month. She explained that the money was to pay for her and my grandfather’s “going home”. She didn’t want to put the burden on her children to pay for their services. That was my introduction to the importance of insurance.

When I was a little older, Mr. Deek stopped coming. My grandmother explained that she was now sending money for insurance in the mail for a Life Insurance Policy instead of just Burial Insurance. She explained that it was a way to take care of her and my grandfather if something happened to one of them; but instead of just paying for their funeral, there would be money left over that could be shared with the family. Her explanation made a lasting impression throughout my life.

I have read many stories over the years that back then, the local life insurance agent established a history of trust among Black Americans. Those early relationships, that I was a part of as a youngster, created a foundation of trust that continued in most cases throughout the lives of many black families. I have also read that life insurance was seen by many as an additional financial protection because of the limited access to other investment products to most Black Americans in the past.

I have been working in the life insurance industry for many years. What I know today since being introduced to insurance at such a young age, makes me appreciate an industry that has not only been important to my family, but equally important to other Black American families over many years.