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Americans die with an average debt of $62,000. Here are some ways to manage that debt before it’s too late.
USA TODAY

Most people don’t think about life insurance until they really need it. But when your day job involves driving over 200 miles per hour caged inside concrete walls, financial planning becomes a serious priority.

For Danica Patrick, one of the few female drivers competing at NASCAR’s top level, having life insurance is just another part of being “financially fit.”

“You prepare your body for life and you prepare your mind for life, why wouldn’t you prepare your money for life?” she asks.

For the second year in a row, Patrick is the face of Life Insurance Awareness Month.

The annual campaign, which runs each September by the non-profit organization Life Happens, seeks to educate people about financially protecting themselves and their loved ones if the worse should happen.

“In this dangerous sport of racing, tragedy can happen,” Patrick says. “It’s a good reason to be prepared.”

Although taking out a life insurance policy is common practice for race car drivers, Patrick has a family connection to the cause.

Both of her parents lost their fathers at a young age and neither had life insurance.

“They ended up having to sell the family farm as a result,” she says. “It just creates another challenge, having to argue about money. That’s nothing anybody really wants to do.”

Patrick’s parents always encouraged her to be financially responsible, and now she’s helping others do the same.

Without life insurance, one in four households would have immediate difficulty paying their bills if their primary wage earner died, according to the Life Insurance Barometer Study conducted by Life Happens in 2017.

Despite this, the study found that more than 40% of Americans still don’t have life insurance.

More: 5 things single parents need to consider about life insurance

More: Term vs. whole life insurance: Which is best for you?

More: Impending death of the life insurance medical exam

“Most people put off things they don’t know how to do,” Patrick says. “Think about how awful it will be for those around you to then have to…