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For millennials, those intelligent, ambitious, happy-go-lucky individuals born between the years 1980 and 2000, life in an ever-transforming society has resulted in a collective identity that, to older generations, appears irresponsible.

Studies show that, more than any other generation, millennials are by far less likely to purchase life insurance, health insurance, home insurance, or even auto insurance – which means, if they’re driving, they’re breaking the law.

One Gallup poll showed that one-quarter of U.S. millennials don’t have health insurance. Compared to the U.S. average of 12%, there’s something to the idea that millennials simply don’t have much use for spending their money on insurance.

You’ve got the money, I’ve got the time

For many millennials, foregoing insurance is a simple matter of economics. For young college graduates who struggle to find jobs with more potential than short-term internships, it’s impossible to consider footing the bill for anything more than the basics.

According to Neil Howe, a Forbes contributor who’s written extensively on the millennial generation:

Though especially prevalent in high-prestige creative fields like music, media, and fashion, low-paid or unpaid internships are spreading out to all sectors. From nonprofits to law firms to government, they are replacing many traditional entry-level positions.

This trend means that for younger workers, it’s increasingly common to graduate and enter a position that offers experience as its primary compensation. It makes it easy to see why these workers aren’t willing to pay for a promise when some of them are working without pay.

Why buy the cow when the milk is free?

For others, it’s a matter of ease. In the case of health insurance, why shell out exorbitant premiums when, thanks to Obamacare, individuals can ride their parents’ policies until they’re 26?

Why move out when staying in the nest is so comfy?

Even for millennials who have started their own families, parsing off their hard-earned cash for luxuries like insurance isn’t a big priority. After all, when you’re trying to decide between keeping the lights on or keeping your life insurance up to date, it’s a no-brainer.

Ignorance is bliss – until it isn’t

It’s pretty easy to see it from millennials’ perspective, even if you are older and wiser. When you’ve never lived through a tornado or a flood that’s required you to start from scratch, paying for an invisible disaster insurance policy does seem pointless.

When you’ve never totaled your car and had to beg for rides, it makes sense to be tempted to not get insurance coverage, even if there are many affordable options. When you’ve never stared at a pile of hospital bills, it can be hard to justify spending your cash on a what-if.

For older Americans who have experienced these and more unpleasant scenarios when insurance policies more than paid for themselves, it can be painful to watch young family members skip insurance. It’s especially troubling to think that, should a disaster arise, those young family members will head their direction.

According to Time.com Money’s Dan Kadlec:

Millions of young adults routinely boomerang home after college or get other financial support via friends or family. Remarkably, the parents of boomerang kids don’t seem to mind providing the extended support.

He goes on to describe the sacrifices parents of millennials commonly make for their grown children:

  • 25% say they have taken on additional debt
  • 13% have delayed a life event like an overseas vacation
  • 7% have even delayed retirement

[Source: National Endowment for Financial Education]

Research shows that the majority of millennials do listen to their elders regarding insurance. They’re more likely, for example, to stick with the insurance companies their parents have chosen. This suggests that careful, non-condemning direction from the older generation might prove effective in convincing millennials to take the plunge and “just get insurance.”

While not all millennials have the wisdom to listen to their elders, good-hearted elders can at least give them an opportunity to learn by sharing their wisdom.

It’s worth a try, anyway.

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