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Who needs more life insurance, James Bond or Homer Simpson?

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Which fictional character needs the most life insurance? That’s the question that Life Happens, a non-profit organization focused on educating the public about life insurance ownership, asked 1,022 adults in the U.S in an online survey. Conducted by KRC Research from September 7-9, 2015, respondents answered the question: “Which of the following characters on TV or in the movies this year is most in need of life insurance?”

The results are eye-opening for those in the industry who are trying to reach consumers. More than a third of respondents (34 percent) indicated that James Bond needs life insurance more than any other fictional character in the survey. Agent 007 was selected by nearly twice as many Americans as Homer Simpson (18 percent) and by five times as many Americans as Modern Family’s Phil Dunphy (6 percent), two heads of households whose families would be hit hard financially without life insurance, Life Happens notes.

“While James Bond dances with death just about every day, the truth is he has no one relying on him financially. Parents and breadwinners like Homer Simpson and Phil Dunphy are the ones most in need of life insurance, which would allow their families to be OK financially if they were to die,” said Marvin Feldman, CLU, ChFC, RFC, president and CEO of Life Happens. “The data supports the fact that Americans need to better understand the important role that life insurance plays for people just like them.”

This data can help you put things into perspective when talking to prospects or clients. Examples from the survey can help explain why life insurance is an important tool for family financial planning.

Life Happens offers the following tips for individuals considering life insurance in various phases of their lives:

  • Married: Many people mistakenly believe that they don’t need to think about life insurance until they have children. Not true. You’ll want to ensure that your spouse could manage the mortgage or rent, ongoing bills and debt if something were to happen to you. Plus, if you’re planning to have children, you’ll want to buy life insurance now instead of waiting until pregnancy — some companies won’t issue policies to pregnant women.

  • Married with children: Most families depend on two incomes to make ends meet. If you died suddenly, could your family continue to meet all their financial obligations — from paying rent or the mortgage to daily living expenses? Could your family continue their standard of living on your spouse’s income alone? Would their plans for the future — like college — stay intact? Life insurance makes sure that your plans for the future don’t die when you do.

  • Single parent: As a single parent, you’re the caregiver, breadwinner, cook, chauffeur and so much more. Yet, according to industry research organization LIMRA, nearly four in 10 single parents have no life insurance, and many with coverage say they need more than they have. With so much responsibility resting on your shoulders, you need to make doubly sure that you have enough life insurance to safeguard your children’s financial future.

  • Retired: Many people think their need for life insurance ends once they retire. But you’ll want to rethink this if you have people who depend on you, such as a special-needs child or other children still living at home. Plus, you’ll want to make sure your spouse or partner would be OK financially, especially if you have a pension with no survivorship option, you have installment debt, or if they couldn’t easily pay for end-of-life bills and funeral costs. Leaving a legacy is also important for many people, which life insurance can help with. 

  • Stay-at-home parent: Just because you don’t earn a salary doesn’t mean you don’t make a financial contribution to your family. Childcare, transportation and managing a household are all important tasks, the replacement value of which is often severely underestimated. With life insurance, your family could afford to make the choice that best preserves their quality of life.

We asked Life Happens’ Feldman to expand a bit more about each character’s need for life insurance. Here are their fictional profiles, as well as the percentage of respondents who said each needs life insurance. 

homer simpson

Homer Simpson from The Simpsons:

18 percent said Homer Simpson, The Simpsons

The beloved donut-eating, beer-drinking patriarch of the Simpson family, Homer Simpson came in to the world of pop culture in 1989. While Homer may drink too much beer, eat lots of fatty pork ribs, work at a nuclear facility and drive dangerously, he would most likely be insurable at regular rates, according to Life Happens. That said, during the underwriting process, insurers could find health issues due to his weight and love of donuts, such as diabetes. But if health conditions like diabetes are under control, people can still get affordable coverage, although premiums would be higher.

If Homer has racked up multiple tickets for reckless driving, that could also influence the cost of his coverage. But in the overall scheme of things, the increased cost of premiums compared with the benefit of having coverage would be extremely nominal.

“With his wife and children at home, Homer really needs the life insurance coverage,” Feldman said. 

Agent 007, James Bond, SPECTRE

34 percent said James Bond, James Bond: SPECTRE

Created by author Ian Fleming in 1953, the cold yet calculating casanova and intelligence officer from MI6, code-named Agent 007, was introduced to the world by book and later appeared on comic strips, radio, TV and movies.

Bond is known to stare down danger and find creative ways to get out of trouble, usually by blowing things up along the way and rescuing the dame in distress. 

“James Bond is the quintessential adventurer, always on the run and nearly escaping death. Despite his inclination to live life on the edge, he does not have a spouse or any children and therefore does not need life insurance as much as other characters,” explains Life Happens CEO.

On the other hand, James Bond has no dependents, so while he could get and afford the higher premiums that accompany high-risk coverage, it is not as necessary for him to have life insurance.

Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2

20 percent said Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2

The video trailer (above) of the most recent movie barely even begins to cover the dangers that Katniss Everdeen faces on a regular basis.

The main protagonist of the Hunger Games trilogy, Katniss is a brave participant and fighter in the Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death, who then gets involved in a political and civil war. Katniss is a symbol of rebellion against the oppressive Capitol regime. She does not have children or a spouse, and so, despite the fact that she is often close to death, she does not need life insurance as much as other characters, according to Life Happens.

Tony Stark/Iron Man, Avengers: Age of Ultron

15 percent said Tony Stark/Iron Man, Avengers: Age of Ultron

A fictional superhero who first appeared in the sixties, Tony Stark — aka Iron Man — is the creation of Marvel Comics. But it wasn’t until 2008 when Robert Downey Jr. took on the role in a live action movie titled Iron Man that this character became a part of popular culture today.

Tony Stark is an American billionaire playboy, business magnate, and ingenious engineer. As Iron Man, he suits up and protects the world from various threats. He does not have a wife (yet) or children. 

Phil Dunphy, Modern Family

6 percent said Phil Dunphy, Modern Family

Husband to strong-willed Claire Dunphy, Phil is a quirky real estate agent who has three kids and lives in the suburbs. He is known for being a bit sentimental, funny and accident-prone.

“As the primary breadwinner for the family, Phil should invest in life insurance to protect his wife and kids,” recommends Feldman.

Claire Underwood, House of Cards

6 percent said Claire Underwood, House of Cards

Spoiler alert: If you’re not up-to-speed with Netflix’s House of Cards, do NOT watch the video above or keep reading. You’ve been warned!

One of the best political dramas on Nexflix (in my humble opinion, at least), House of Cards follows the life of U.S. Representative Frank Underwood and his wife, Claire. The show tells an intriguing story about how this representative manipulated his way to the top, and how Claire also helps weave that web of lies.

She serves a variety of roles in our nation’s capital, first as the head of an environmental nonprofit organization, and then as the First Lady of the United States. She does not have any children, so despite the threat of stress and lies, Claire is not a desperate candidate for life insurance.

See also:

How the life insurance’s chief champion reached 611M prospects in a single year

4 of the biggest challenges facing the insurance industry (and how to overcome them)