If you don't have life insurance, your loved ones might be left in the lurch financially if you pass away unexpectedly. But despite the importance of having life insurance, many Americans go without it, and for reasons that really read more like excuses. Here are the top reasons Americans don't have life insurance, according to a survey by Ladder and OnePoll -- and why they just don't hold water.

1. It's too expensive

For 52% of Americans, the decision not to buy life insurance boils down to money. Meanwhile, the aforementioned survey also found that the typical American spends nearly $1,500 a month on non-essentials like restaurant meals and entertainment. Depending on the policy you buy, that $1,500 could be enough to cover your premiums for an entire year.

Pen resting on life insurance application


Before you write off the idea of life insurance based on an assumption that it's too expensive, explore your options for a low-cost policy. Opting for term life insurance over permanent life insurance, for example, is a good way to reduce your costs, since term policies don't cover you for life and don't accumulate a cash value.

You can also keep your costs down by applying when you're relatively young and at your healthiest. Losing weight, for example, could reduce your premium costs substantially.

2. I don't think I need it

A good 17% of Americans are convinced they don't need life insurance. But here's the thing: You don't need to be wealthy to have a policy. If you have people who depend on you financially, or who stand to get hurt financially if you were to pass away, then you need that coverage. Period.

Imagine, for instance, that you're a stay-at-home parent who doesn't earn an income. You might think you don't need life insurance because you don't contribute financially to your household, but in reality, you provide a key service -- free child care. If you were to pass away, leaving behind a spouse and two kids, your spouse would then need to absorb the cost of child care on his or her own, which could wreak havoc on your family's budget. On the other hand, if you were to take out a modest policy for yourself, your family would have that added protection if the unthinkable were to happen.

3. I don't know what kind of policy to get

Navigating life insurance options can be tricky, so much so that 15% of Americans don't have a policy because they don't know which kind to get. The truth is that there are numerous life insurance guides on the internet, so you can read through them to better understand your options. Working with a trusted broker or financial advisor will also help, as that person should be in a position to steer you in the right direction.

4. I don't know how much coverage to get

An estimated 12% of Americans don't have life insurance because they have no idea how much coverage they need. There are different formulas you can play around with to determine how much of a policy to buy, but one common approach is to round up your outstanding debts and major family goals, and then purchase a policy whose death benefit will cover all of that.

For example, if you owe $200,000 on your mortgage, have two children to put through college at a cost of $100,000 per child, and want to leave a little money left over for funeral expenses and other miscellaneous costs, you might take out a $450,000 policy. If you want to leave your family with enough money to help pay for two weddings, you might increase that to $500,000. There are different options to play around with, so think about the financial gaps that could be left upon your passing, and aim to buy a policy that closes them.

5. I haven't had the time to figure it out

For 11% of Americans, a lack of life insurance is attributed to not having had the time to figure it out. If that's been the case for you, carve out some time to meet with a financial advisor or broker to discuss your options. Doing so will make the process more efficient, and if you schedule a meeting with someone else to talk about life insurance, it'll be harder to blow it off.

6. The process is too confusing

Not surprisingly, 11% of Americans say that the confusing nature of life insurance has driven them to avoid buying a policy. While some of the life insurance types out there are confusing, if you want to keep things simple, go with a term policy. In doing so, you'll lock in a premium based on your age, health, and coverage amount, and as long as you pay that premium, you'll have a policy in place for whatever timeframe you choose up front, whether it's 10, 20, or 30 years.

A life insurance policy isn't the most fun thing to spend your money on, but it's perhaps the most worthwhile investment you can make. If you're without life insurance, stop what you're doing and carve out some time to explore your options. Your loved ones are depending on it.