JN Hould, Breathe Life’s COO, shares his life-insurance journey from the perspectives of both a consumer and technologist.
Q: How did you first become aware of the need for, and benefits of, life insurance?
My Dad died when I was nine years old. He and my mother had gone on a fishing trip, and I remember him being sick with a bad headache the day after his return. That headache turned out to be a tumor, which eventually took his life.
My father owned his own business and was our family’s sole provider — my mom had moved out of the workforce to care for my older brother and me. Fortunately, he had the foresight to purchase a generous life insurance policy, understanding his centrality to our financial well-being.
When my dad passed away, the life insurance became our lifeline, one that supported us for many years, helping us stay on our feet as a family, paying for school, and later, university. I still remember the peace of mind it brought my father knowing that the policy he had purchased would take good care of us.
I know it all sounds like an insurance commercial, but it’s what really happened. Life insurance made a huge difference in the life of my family, and that experience has always stayed with me.
Q: The theme of this year’s Life Insurance Awareness Month is “Reality Check: The Time to Buy Life Insurance is Now.” Can you comment on this theme in light of your own experience and the challenges we’ve all faced in 2020?
The theme is spot on: the time to buy life insurance is now. Of course, we have human nature to contend with. Purchasing a life insurance policy is so easy to put off, but I know from first-hand experience that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow.
COVID-19 is bringing this lesson home for so many people, and it’s driving record interest in life insurance. People are realizing they are not immortal and less in control than they may have thought. I think purchasing life insurance is a way to take some of that control back, ensuring a strong financial future for the people you love.
On the one hand, it’s sad that we need pandemics and natural disasters (another type of event that triggers high insurance sales) to kick us in the butt to go out and take action, but I’m just glad that people are acting – even if out of fear – to provide financial security for their families.
Q: We hear the “family” dimension has taken on new meaning for you.
That’s right. My wife and I just had our first child – a boy! It has been such a great experience, but I suppose because of my history I immediately started to stress out about my life insurance coverage. It was on my mind every day. I just wanted to make sure this beautiful little person would be protected the way I had been.
Honestly, I was a little obsessed with increasing my coverage. I really wanted to ensure my wife and son would be able to live well if something happened to me. So, I went into the market and found that even though I am the COO of an InsurTech company, the experience of buying more life insurance was daunting. It’s a painful process – a medical exam, lots of paperwork, and slow.
It reminded me of why I helped found Breathe Life in the first place and why I am so passionate about what we can achieve as a company: technology has the potential to remove friction from every point in the insurance distribution process, making it easier and faster to do the right thing for yourself and those who depend on you.