It is not uncommon for well off families to become destitute when a father or mother becomes seriously ill and can no longer work. In a landmark p’sak, former Chief Rabbi and present Chief Rabbi of Yerushalayim Shlomo Amar ruled that people should take measures to forestall such situations.
“In our time when it is common worldwide to take out health insurance, this is a correct and blessed hishtadlus,” he wrote. “And there is no doubt that someone who cannot afford it may pay it from ma’aser money with no compunction.”
An insurance company publicized his p’sak under the heading, “The poor of your family come first,” but took the liberty of exaggeratedly writing, “There is an obligation for every family head to take out health insurance for his family,” when in fact Rav Amar only ruled that it is “correct” to do so.
Rav Moshe Feinstein (Orach Chaim 2:111) and Rav Ovadiah Yosef (Yechaveh Da’as 3:85) permitted the acquiring of life insurance, with Rav Moshe extending the heter to life, fire, theft, and car insurance as well.