Must Ask Questions About Life Insurance
When it comes to buying life insurance, timing is everything.
Your need for life insurance is just that, your need. Your personal circumstances—family situation, financial obligations, debt—all play a part in the type and amount of life insurance you may require. In the event of your death, a well thought out life insurance coverage can help protect your loved ones from your current debts—medical student loans, credit card balances, car payment—and provide for the future needs of your dependents—ongoing living expenses, funding a child’s education. The bottom line, if you have people who depend on your income, you should consider having a level of life insurance coverage that protects them from financial hardship.
What is the cost structure for life insurance?
Term life insurance generally offers the best value for those concerned about protecting loved ones from financial hardship. Term life insurance can provide a high amount of coverage at a lower initial premium, itis lower cost than long-term protection which offers additional features and flexible budget options.
Term life insurance pays a cash benefit to your beneficiary if you die during the term of the policy. It’s as straightforward as that. The more popular form of term life insurance today is level term life insurance. The term is the length of time the policy lasts. Most level term life insurance offers 10, 15 or 20 year terms and during that time your premium rate is locked in and does not change. A level term life insurance coverage allows you the flexibility of choosing a term period that works within your family’s financial needs and goals—you might choose a term that continues until your children finish their education or your mortgage is paid off.
What is permanent life insurance?
Unlike term insurance that provides coverage for a certain specified period, a permanent life insurance policy covers an individual for their entire life. Permanent life insurance policies provide a death benefit, but also builds cash value as you continue to pay premiums. These policies are more expensive than term insurance and can be complex to understand. The most common permanent life insurance policies are whole life insurance, universal life insurance and variable life insurance.
Whole life insurance is designed to pay a guaranteed death benefit, but also includes a savings component to accumulate cash value. The policyholder can access the cash value* while they are alive to supplement retirement income or pay for expenses associated with long term care. These are often referred to as the ‘living benefits’ within the policy.
*Accessing the cash value by loans or partial surrenders reduces the total cash value and total death benefit
Universal life insurance is different from other permanent life insurance policies. The policyholder is allowed the flexibility to adjust premium payments and death benefits at any time during the life of the policy. Universal life insurance policies have a cash value that can even be used towards premium payments. These policies tend to be the most complex to understand.
Variable life insurance is a cash value life insurance policy with an investment component. The payout amounts of the policy are determined by the performance of the underlying sub accounts within the policy. These sub accounts allow the policyholder to invest in things like stocks, bonds and mutual funds. However, variable life insurance policies can be more volatile than traditional life insurance policies as they often reflect the positive and negative shifts of the market.
How much life insurance is enough?
The amount of life insurance you buy depends on your financials goals—who you want to provide for financially and for how long. Choosing the amount of life insurance to meet your needs requires some thought, but there are some general guidelines that might help.
Often you hear people recommend that your life insurance should equal around 10 times your gross salary. While that may be an easy general idea, it doesn’t account for your individual situation—your expenses and any financial resources available to your family.
Another common formula used to calculate the level of life insurance you may need requires you to take the total of your financial resources (savings, investments, spouse’s income, other life insurance) and subtract the total of your financial obligations (current and future expenses such as mortgage, student loan payment, education expenses). The difference between the two numbers represents the approximate amount of life insurance to buy.
Real analysis is what will help you build a life insurance portfolio that helps to address your financial needs. A trusted insurance professional can help you determine the type and amount of life insurance coverage you may need.
When is a good time to buy life insurance?
Your life insurance needs can change over the course of a year. Many life events impact the amount of life insurance you may require – changing jobs, getting married, a new child, moving, a child leaving home and becoming financially independent, retirement. Reviewing your life insurance can help ensure that life’s many changes haven’t left you with a gap in the amount of coverage you need.
Life insurance is at the foundation of a solid financial plan, and it should evolve with the changes in your life. Navigating the ins and outs of life insurance—understanding how much is the right amount, when and what type of life insurance to buy—can be made easier when you consult a trusted source.
AMA Insurance has a team of non-commissioned Insurance Specialists ready to help you find a life insurance solution that meets your unique need for protection. Their sole purpose is to assist you without pressure to help you strengthen your insurance protection.