Just as we need to plan for other significant events in our lives, such as retirement, we also need to plan for what happens when we are no longer here. Preparing for the unexpected is one of the most responsible things we can do for our loved ones.
Life insurance policies provide financial security if something happens to you. It can help pay for expenses such as funeral costs, final medical bills, and estate taxes.
But that is not all. Life insurance can also provide a lump sum of money that your family can use however they see fit. This could be used to pay off debts, cover living expenses until the kids are adults, or providing a source of income to supplement your life in retirement.
Whatever your needs, there is a type of life insurance policy that can meet them. And thanks to the variety of policies available today, it is easier than ever to find one that fits your budget.
I will go over the different types of life insurance, how much coverage you may need, and some factors that affect your premiums.
What Life Insurance Is Used for
Life insurance is primarily used to provide financial security for your loved ones upon your death.
But you can also use life insurance for other purposes, such as:
- To pay off debts. If you have any outstanding debts, such as a mortgage or car loan, your life insurance policy can be used to pay them off. This will give your loved ones less to worry about during an already difficult time.
- To cover living expenses. If you are the primary breadwinner in your family, your death could put a significant financial strain on your loved ones. A life insurance policy can help cover daily living expenses like groceries, utilities, and the mortgage.
- To fund a child’s education. If you have young children, consider a life insurance policy that can be used to pay for their college education.
- To create an inheritance. If you have assets that you want to pass on to your loved ones, a life insurance policy can be used to create an inheritance.
How Much Life Insurance Do You Need?
One of the most common questions about life insurance is how much coverage do you need. Some factors to consider when determining how much life insurance you need include things like whether you own a home, whether you have debt, and whether you have any dependents (such as children or elderly parents).
Here are a few general guidelines for determining how much life insurance you need:
- If you are the primary income earner in your family, you should have enough life insurance to cover at least 10 years of your income.
- If you have young children, you should have enough life insurance to cover them financially until they can support themselves as adults and possibly also to cover the cost of their education.
- If you have any outstanding debts, you should have enough life insurance to pay them off.
- If you want to leave an inheritance, you should have enough life insurance to cover the value of your assets.
These are just general guidelines. A life insurance agent can help you determine how much life insurance you need. I can help you calculate your specific needs based on your individual circumstances.
Common Types of Life Insurance
Permanent life insurance and term life insurance are the two main types of life insurance. Depending on your personal needs, one type may be better suited for you than the other. Or, you may want a little of both.
Term Life Insurance
The most basic type of life insurance is term life insurance. It provides coverage for a specific period of time, such as 10, 20, or 30 years. Your beneficiaries will receive a death benefit if you die during this period. If you do not, the policy will expire, and you will not get anything back.
The biggest benefit of term life insurance is that it is the most affordable form of life insurance. This makes it a good choice for people on a budget or with temporary needs, such as covering a young family. Term life insurance may be later converted to whole life insurance, making it a good option if your needs might change in the future.
There are some drawbacks to term life insurance, however. The most important thing to remember is that it only provides coverage for a set period of time. You will not be covered if you live beyond the policy’s term.
Term life insurance is still one of the most popular types of life insurance because it is affordable and can be customized to meet your needs. If you are looking for basic coverage with no frills, term life insurance is a good option.
Permanent Life Insurance
Permanent life insurance offers several advantages over term life insurance. For one, it does not expire. As long as the premiums are paid, your policy will remain in force. This can provide peace of mind for policyholders who want to be sure their loved ones will be provided for financially in the event of their death.
Permanent life insurance also offers flexibility in how premiums are paid. Often, policyholders can pay higher premiums for a shorter period or choose to spread their payments out over a longer timeframe. This flexibility can make permanent life insurance a more affordable option for some people.
Permanent life insurance is a more versatile type of life insurance that offers several advantages over term life insurance. For those who want to be sure their loved ones are taken care of financially or want to build cash value over time, permanent life insurance may be the right choice.
Some unique features of permanent life insurance include the following:
- Cash value. One of the most popular features of permanent life insurance is the cash value. This is a savings account that grows tax deferred. You can access the cash value through loans or withdrawals, although this will reduce the death benefit and may cause the policy to lapse.
- Universal life insurance. Universal life insurance offers flexibility in both the premium payments and the death benefit. You can choose to increase or decrease your coverage as your needs change, and you can also adjust your premiums.
- Whole life insurance. Whole life insurance offers level premiums and guaranteed coverage for your entire life. Whole life insurance also has a cash value, which grows tax deferred.
- Specialized insurance. Some specialized types of life insurance are designed to meet specific needs. This includes burial and final expense insurance. This type of life insurance is designed to cover the costs of your funeral and other end-of-life expenses, such as medical bills.
How Life Insurance Cash Value Can Help You
In addition to providing financial security for your loved ones, life insurance can also be used as a source of income and readily available funds.
Permanent life insurance policies have a cash value component. This is money that you can borrow against or withdraw from the policy at any time.
A life insurance policy’s cash value can be used for a number of purposes, including:
- To supplement your income in retirement. You can supplement your retirement income with the cash value of your life insurance policy.
- To cover unexpected expenses. In the event of an unexpected expense, like a medical bill or car repair, you can use your policy’s cash value to pay for it.
- To provide a source of emergency funds. In case of a financial emergency, you can use the cash value of your life insurance policy to secure a loan or pay bills.
To access your life insurance policy’s cash value, you will use a withdrawal or loan. With a withdrawal, you take money out of the policy and do not have to pay it back. With a loan, you borrow money against the policy and will need to pay it back with interest.
It is important to note that taking money out of a life insurance policy will reduce the death benefit paid to your beneficiaries. However, the cash value of the policy will still grow tax deferred.
As an investment tool, permanent life insurance can be a valuable way to save money and grow your wealth. And thanks to the cash value component, you can use it as a source of income in retirement or to cover unexpected expenses.
Understanding Life Insurance Riders
Riders are benefits you can add to your life insurance policy for additional costs. Riders can provide coverage for long-term care, disability, critical illness, and more. They can also add features like no lapse guarantees and living benefits.
You should consider adding riders to your life insurance policy if you want extra protection or if you want to add features that are not included in your primary policy. Riders are a great way to customize your life insurance coverage to meet your specific needs, and you can add them to both term and permanent life insurance policies.
Most Common Life Insurance Riders
There are many different riders that you can add to a life insurance policy. Some of the most common riders include:
- Living Benefits rider. This rider provides access to the death benefit when you have a terminal illness prognosis of generally less than a year to live. If you are considering a life insurance policy with living benefits, it is crucial to understand how they work and what they could mean for you and your family. So, let us look at how a living death benefit rider works. Say you have a life insurance policy with a death benefit of $500,000. You also have a living death benefit rider that allows you to access up to $250,000 of the death benefit while you are still alive. Then, if you become terminally ill or need long-term care, you can use the money from the living death benefit to cover your expenses. Once you die, your beneficiaries will receive the remaining $250,000 death benefit. If you do not use the living death benefit, your beneficiaries will receive the full $500,000 death benefit. Overall, this rider can give you and your family peace of mind knowing that you can access funds if needed.
- Accidental death benefit rider. This rider provides additional death benefits in the event of an accident.
- Disability income rider. This rider provides you with a portion of your death benefit if you become disabled and cannot work.
- Long-term care rider. This rider provides you with a portion of your death benefit to cover long-term care costs, such as in-home care, adult daycare, and nursing home costs. This coverage can be especially helpful if you are worried about the high cost of long-term care.
- Child riders. Child riders provide coverage for your dependent children. This can include a death benefit and living benefits, such as the ability to access the policy’s cash value to pay for college expenses.
When considering life insurance, riders can be a valuable way to customize your policy to meet your specific needs.
Underwriting Life Insurance
The process of underwriting life insurance is how insurance companies determine if you are eligible for coverage and how much you will pay for premiums.
Full underwriting involves a review of your medical history and other factors, such as your lifestyle and occupation, as well as collecting blood and urine samples. Insurance companies will ask you questions about your health history and lifestyle, and they will also check your prescription drug history. Based on this information, they will determine whether or not you are eligible for coverage. If approved, your premium will be based on the risk you pose to the insurance company. For example, people with good health and no risky hobbies or habits will pay lower premiums than those with poor health or dangerous habits.
As the name implies, simplified issue life insurance does not require medical exams or testing. This can be appealing if you want to avoid going through the hassle of scheduling an appointment and taking the exam. However, it is essential to understand how these policies work before you purchase one.
It is also important to note that simplified issue policies often have smaller death benefits than policies that require a medical exam. This is because insurance companies are assuming more risk when they offer coverage without a medical exam.
However, a simplified issue policy can be a good option if you are healthy and just looking for some basic coverage. It is easier and faster to get approved for these policies than traditional policies, so if you need coverage quickly, a simplified issue policy may be the way to go.
Guaranteed issue life insurance does not require medical exams or health questions. This type of insurance coverage is typically the only kind of life insurance that some people can qualify for.
The key benefit of guaranteed issue life insurance is that it provides peace of mind to policyholders and their loved ones. Knowing that the policy will pay out regardless of the policyholder’s health can give peace of mind in the face of a terminal diagnosis.
In addition, guaranteed issue life insurance can provide financial security for loved ones in the event of a policyholder’s death. While the coverage may be limited, it can still provide some financial stability during an emotionally difficult time. For these reasons, guaranteed issue life insurance can be a valuable tool for those who are otherwise uninsurable.
When considering life insurance, it is essential to understand the underwriting process. This will help you choose the right type of policy for your needs. As a licensed life insurance agent, I can help you navigate the underwriting process and find the right policy.
Which Life Insurance Is Right for You
Which type of life insurance is right for you depends on individual circumstances. If you are looking for temporary coverage or want the most affordable option, term life insurance may be a good choice. On the other hand, permanent life insurance may be a better fit if you are looking for lifelong coverage with the added benefit of a cash-value account.
As a general rule, term life insurance is a good choice for people who have a temporary need for life insurance. Permanent life insurance is typically a better choice for people looking for cash value that they can have access to as well as to take care of their final expenses.