Understanding Life Insurance: Does a Superhero Like Batman Need It?

In 2005, as a rather interesting educational experiment, the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education surveyed 1,014 adults asking, “Out of the following fictional characters, which are most in need of life insurance: Batman, Spider-Man, Fred Flintstone, Harry Potter, or Marge Simpson?”

It certainly seems like a fairly absurd question to ask, but there was a very necessary, and educational, purpose for asking this question: to determine Americans’ understanding of life insurance.

Which Fictional Characters DON’T Need Life Insurance?

Unfortunately, the results suggested that Americans understand very little about life insurance, as all of the fictional characters who received the most votes are the ones who don’t need it.

The most common answer was actually Spider-Man, who pulled in 28% of the vote — and considering that this particular superhero swings from skyscraper to skyscraper, it’s easy to see how the general public might view him as a good candidate for life insurance. However, he’s not, because Spider-Man is actually Peter Parker; a young, unmarried, childless, man with little income. Even if Peter attempted to obtain a life insurance policy, and was completely honest about his hidden persona, he wouldn’t be able to afford the payments; better to save the money!

Grabbing the next big piece of the vote was Batman, coming in at 18%; however, the demand for life insurance is usually inversely related to wealth. Those with substantial means usually have their own investment routes for providing for their heirs and don’t have much use for life insurance — specifically, term policies that don’t provide any real investment incentive. Clocking in with a net worth of $6.5 billion dollars, Bruce Wayne is no exception. More importantly, Mr. Wayne is young, childless, unmarried, and in excellent health; all of which make him an unlikely candidate for life insurance.

Rounding out the “Does Not Need” roster was Harry Potter, who received 15% of the vote, who falls into the same category as Peter Parker.

Which Fictional Characters DO Need Life Insurance?

Both Fred Flintstone (16%) and Marge Simpson (11%) are the two fictional characters who are most in need of life insurance, as they both have families who rely on them. Out of the two, Fred Flintstone is the only one who is the primary income provider for his family and therefore is actually the correct answer within the proposed survey; however, Marge’s role as a stay-at-home-mom does weigh in and would be a devastating blow, so she is a close second.

If Batman Were to Get Insurance, How Much Would It Be?

Expensive! Of course, he would have to be honest about being Batman; being a billionaire playboy certainly isn’t going to skyrocket the premiums. However, having a high-risk job will and insurance companies consider professions that are far less dangerous than taking on Gotham’s seedy underbelly single-handedly dressed as a giant bat as “high-risk.”

For example, deep sea fishermen, loggers, and pilots, are the three jobs with the highest fatality rates and are, therefore, the most expensive to insure. If Batman ever decides to have kids, well, it’s a good thing he’s rich!

Photo Credit: Bruce Fingerhood

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    Life insurance seems to be for middle or higher-middle class if such class exists today. There are folks who can afford the premiums today so they can leave something for their heirs in addition to what they already would leave in the form of assets and cash.

  2. 2

    says

    Good post and I couldn’t agree more that life insurance, how much is needed, how premiums are determined, and what type (term, cash value, etc.) is generally misunderstood by many consumers. Sadly the insurance industry and many who sell the product do little to alleviate this confusion. As a financial planner life insurance (I’m fee-only and don’t sell any financial products) is a key element in the planning for many clients, especially those who haven’t saved enough yet to fund future needs such as college or retirement. With the exception of some of the professions you mentioned, it can be an inexpensive way to build and estate until your investments and savings are large enough.

  3. 3

    says

    For me, insurance is a necessary evil to replace lost income in the case of either my wife or my death. I approach it in the least expensive way of term insurance.

  4. 4

    says

    I don’t think any company would insure Batman. I need to get life insurance because I lost the one through my job when I quit. I’m not making much money now, but I do take care of the kid. It’s hard to figure out how much I need. Maybe just $250,000? I’ll get it done this year…

  5. 5

    Char says

    I actually knew the answer to this one because we just had a company come to our offices to push to add to the life insurance we get through work. I told them I didn’t need more life insurance and they (the insurance company, not my employer) wanted to explain why I surely must need more to protect my loved ones. I explained that I am divorced and have no living children and who the heck was I protecting? I have more than enough to take care of final expenses, what more is needed? ‘Nuff said. (Of course should my personal situation change, that’s another story.)

  6. 6

    says

    Just to play devil’s advocate – at 6.5Bil Mr. Wayne will owe approximately $3 – $3.2 Billion in estate taxes.Not sure his portfolio, but he doesn’t seem all that liquid (especially if most of his wealth is in Wayne enterprises). His eventual heirs may have to liquidate the holdings causing a fire sale on the company.

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