NASCAR driver Danica Patrick explains why everyone should have life insurance

Danica Patrick prior to the Folds of Honor Quiktrip 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup series race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, GA.
David J. Griffin | Icon Sportswire | Corbis

Three out of five Americans own some sort of life insurance, but only 51% of millennials have coverage.

According to a 2016 Life Happens insurance study, losing the main breadwinner could significantly impact the surviving household members: "Half of US households would feel the financial impact from the loss of their primary wage earner in just six months, and more than a third would feel the impact in a month or less."

Danica Patrick has an idea of what that's like.

"Both my parents lost their dads when they were teenagers, so they know what it's like to struggle and to try and make ends meet, especially when one income goes away," the NASCAR driver and spokesperson for Life Insurance Awareness month tells CNBC.

Neither of her grandfathers had life insurance, and it was a struggle for her family to get by.

Patrick's parents made sure they wouldn't make the same mistake and bought life insurance in their 20s.

The professional race car driver followed suit. "I've had coverage since my early 20s when I started racing cars," she explains. "It's a dangerous sport, so it's a more common conversation to have from an earlier age, based on what I do, but for most people, it's not the most common conversation to have."

The lack of conversation could explain why only half of millennials own life insurance.

Patrick recommends considering what would happen if the worst came true.

"Actually go through the motions in your mind of what you would do," Patrick said. "Ask the questions. Have an answer. You need to plan for when things unexpectedly happen."

There are a handful of reasons to consider taking out a life insurance policy, including covering the cost of a burial and paying for home expenses, and it doesn't have to cost a fortune.

You can use NerdWallet, PolicyGenius and SelectQuote tools to get an idea of how much coverage will cost you.

"The fact is, anything can happen," Patrick says. "Being prepared for the worst is always a smart move, especially if you have time to think about it, because it only gets harder when things get bad."