'I want to protect my family': study finds more African Americans are buying life insurance

FAYETTEVILLLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Funeral experts say Black Americans are less likely to purchase life insurance than their white counterparts.

However, that means an unexpected death could cause them to pay out pocket for funeral arrangements. Life insurance policies aren't always viewed as a priority until it's too late.

Alfred Payne spent nearly a month fighting for his life at Cape Fear Valley Hospital after he caught COVID-19.

"I got life insurance about a month afterwards. I decided to get it because I realized my kids and family weren't protected," said Payne.

He now has a new outlook on life. The 40-year-old COVID-19 survivor shared a video from his hospital bed at Cape Fear Valley more than a year ago.

"Double lung pneumonia and double kidney failure. I was in a coma. I've got nothing but praise to God and thanks I'm still here," said Payne.

He was hospitalized for a month and loss 100 pounds during his stay. Payne had life insurance for 15 years, but did away with it once times got hard financially; he purchased it again within weeks of his hospital release.

"Everything we do it for the people we love," said Payne. " If there's nothing to show for that once you're gone, then what did you really achieve?"

A research trade association out of Windor, Connecticut conducted a study of 3,000 people. It found that while 52% of all Americans have life insurance, 56% of African Americans have life insurance. It's a six percentage point increase from last year.

Research shows the increase was primarily driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, with Black Americans overall reporting higher levels of financial concern.

Independent insurance agent Sherlock Wallace has had more Black clients sign up for life insurance over the past year.

"Sometimes you don't see it until that loved one dies suddenly. Then they realize, oh, I may need to get some life insurance," said Wallace.

It's a lesson experts said many African Americans have to learn the hard way.

"Financial literacy and financial stability is important. It's something we don't speak about enough in our community. We need to do better," said Payne.
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