Let's face it; life insurance isn't exactly the hottest topic at parties. It's one that can induce tears, confusion, and deep personal reflection. We get it.

Nobody wants to think about themselves or their loved ones passing away, after all. Like taking up a new sport or exercise program, it may be uncomfortable at first, but at some point, you’re going to need to know your life insurance options. Making sure you’re taking care of your family is well worth a little discomfort.

Luckily, during our recent weekend-long RBC Insurance North retreat, guests — which included an assortment of 50 influencers of all backgrounds — sat down for an honest and open conversation about the often-neglected topic of life insurance. This included everything from when to get it, to how your lifestyle could influence your rates.

Here’s what we learned…

You may want to consider life insurance before you “need” it.

As we learned, and it came as a surprise to many of us, it may make sense to purchase life insurance when you’re still young and healthy, before marriages, mortgages, and babies are added to the equation.

The earlier you purchase life insurance, the cheaper your premium will be. In addition to the lower rates you can lock-in if you start when you’re young and healthy; you have a better chance of being insurable. If you wait until you’re older, there’s a chance you could get sick in the meantime, and depending on what you have, you might become uninsurable at a time in your life when people rely on your support.

It’s more affordable than you’d think.

Especially if you’re young and healthy, life insurance is a lot more affordable than you may think, and won’t make too big of a dent in the wallet of the average young professional. For example, a $300,000 term life insurance policy for a healthy 30-year-old non-smoking woman could cost $20.99 per month for a 20-year term. That’s cheaper than a pizza night, or a movie for two. Though it may seem unnecessary right now, your future self will definitely thank you in the long run for planning ahead.

Life insurance takes your lifestyle into account.

Especially if you wait well into adulthood, when you may have accumulated a few health issues, and habits along the way, life insurance coverage takes into account your overall backstory of mental and physical health. This means that things like whether or not you’re a smoker or tend to over indulge in alcohol on the regular can affect your rates.

There’s a difference between term life insurance and permanent life insurance.

When it comes to life insurance, you have options, such as the choice between term life insurance and permanent life insurance, or a combination of the two. Term life insurance is cheaper and specifies years (it may come in a five-year term, all the way to 30 and 40-year terms) and payout amounts, and is typically used for things like covering mortgages. On the other hand, permanent life insurance is designed to provide life insurance protection for your entire life. Permanent life insurance offers the benefit of long-term coverage (as long as your premiums are paid), as opposed to having to pay much more to renew your coverage once your defined term is up.

Life insurance protects your children.

One guest, a mother of two, made a comment that admittedly seemed a bit bold at first, but it is very realistic. “God forbid something happens to both my husband and I; but my kids come with money because of our life policy, so people will want to look after them.” You may have a strong network who would want to help, but realistically, raising kids costs money. The payout from a life policy can help remove the financial stress from an already terrible situation.

Life insurance can be used as an investment.

Often overlooked by some, life insurance may be used as an investment vehicle — the cash value of the policy earns interest. While term life insurance does not have any cash value and therefore lacks an investment component, some forms of universal life insurance allow policyholders to accumulate cash value that accumulates on a tax-deferred basis.

You may even optimize your growth by selecting from a variety of investment options suited to your risk profile. If you need the money, you can withdraw it; however, there may be tax implications. And if you don’t, it can contribute to the death benefit.

A good advisor will maintain a strong relationship with you.

As your life unfolds, your needs will inevitably change when it comes to life insurance. That’s why a good advisor, like one at a reputable financial institution like RBC Insurance, should be in contact with you at least once a year for any updates on changing wants or needs, so you can update your policy as needed.

To learn more about life insurance, you can:

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.