Is life insurance the most overlooked, misunderstood and underrated kind of insurance? It may just be, specifically because it's so hard to envision needing this kind of coverage. It's uncomfortable to consider needing life insurance, and if you're young and in great health, it can seem like such a remote prospect, you might simply ignore it.

But that kind of attitude, while understandable, leaves people without the coverage they need. Only 53% of men in the U.S. have life coverage, and even fewer women — just 46%. This is why the insurance sector has come together to declare September Life Insurance Awareness Month. It's the time of year to take some of the fear and mystery out of life insurance and see it for what it is: An important and affordable way to look out for your loved ones.

What Is Life Insurance and Why Do You Need It?

Simply put, a life insurance policy exists to ensure that if the holder passes away, their nearest and dearest will receive financial support. It's a way to help families get by in extremely hard circumstances — and considering just how vital this can be, the costs are low.

In some cases, it's clear why and how that money matters. If you're married, it will help your spouse. If you have children, it can go to their care. But what if you're single and childless? Life insurance still matters, and it was cases like this that Life Insurance Awareness Month was founded to address.

There are so many instances when extra funds could help the people and things you care about most. If you own your own company or have anyone financially dependent on you in any way, money may matter a great deal. You provide for the individuals in your life and look after them every day. It can be comforting to know you could do the same in your absence.

Costs simply add up. Family members will have to go grocery shopping every week. Any kind of business will need money to keep the doors open and the lights on. Life insurance helps these things keep going — it's a way to show you're watching out for all the pieces of your life, and it's typically not hard or overly expensive to get a policy.

How Do You Get Life Insurance — and Pick the Best Plan?

How much coverage do you need to provide for your loved ones? That depends, but you can narrow it down. For example, Life Happens, the same group responsible for Life Insurance Awareness Month, offers a calculator. Plug your information into this system and you'll figure out the best policy amount for your needs. Then it's time to choose a provider.

Finding a life insurance policy doesn't have to be complicated, but you should take the decision seriously. This might mean working with an insurance agent or broker. That could mean choosing an independent professional to compare companies' offerings or working directly with a provider's agent.

Every provider offers a slightly different selection of products, along with a unique experience for policyholders, and a broker could help you sort through the offerings. Policies may also be available through employers, but there are some complexities that come with certain professions.

This is a good time for a history lesson. In 1947, U.S. service members weren't able to find coverage that would pay a death benefit if they lost their lives in combat. This is the reason why AFBA was founded — to provide peace of mind to the people who were serving their country. That's what we're still doing today, offering benefits to active duty military members, veterans and first responders.