While there are different types of insurance policies on the market, what they all provide is a way to buffer your loved ones form the financial hardships of your passing. But a lot of people who want to get this kind of coverage don't know where to start. So, we are offering these 9 tips to help you navigate the insurance market and find coverage that is suitable for your needs.
1. Make Sure It Covers All Your Needs
Life insurance comes in two basic categories: term and permanent. Term life insurance policies only cover you for a set period of time, while the permanent life insurance covers you for as long as you keep paying premiums.
Permanent insurance products also often pull double duty as investment vehicles in the following forms:
- Whole life insurance is a fixed premium return product with a savings component. The policyholder can withdraw or borrow against the growing cash value of their policy.
- Universal life insurance allows policyholder flexibility in terms of the premium amount and includes a savings and investment component.
- Variable life insurance is similar to universal life insurance; however, the benefits are linked more directly to the performance of the investment and can shift the risk to the policyholder.
2. Look for a Premium You Can Afford
Term insurance is much cheaper and may suit those who cannot afford permanent insurance. Of course, it is also a better option if you want a set period of coverage. Permanent life insurance is more expensive because it can last the entire life of the policyholder and has additional fees due to the investment component (see Insurance as an Investment? to find out more about permanent insurance as an investment vehicle).
When deciding on a policy, make sure you can budget in the premium over the long term or for the entire life of the policy. Otherwise, a suspension of coverage would waste all the premiums you've paid up until that point. No one knows their future, so it's advisable that you have money set aside, especially if the policy you want has a variable premium.
3. Review Multiple Policies
Do some research and talk with various insurers and agents before settling on a policy. This lets learn more about the types of coverage available and their associated costs. Compile the data and compare it on your own so you find an affordable and reasonable price for the coverage you want.
4. Carefully Weigh Extra Features or Benefits
Many insurers offer various other benefits to a life insurance policy for an additional fee. This may include accelerated death benefits, accidental death, terminal illness, or return of premium riders (to learn more, see Life Insurance: Are Accidental Death Clauses Necessary?). Due to the additional cost, make sure you need the coverage and that it is worth the price. For instance, a healthy, middle-aged adult with a clean family medical history has a lower likelihood of benefiting from a terminal illness rider and the extra cost. And some are just not worth it. It's best to avoid lender-offered policies that would pay for your mortgage or other debts. Straight-up policies typically provide more coverage for less.
5. Never Lie to Get a Lower Premium
This is a particularly risky move. If your insurer finds out that you lied on your application, they may deny coverage, cancel the policy without a refund of premiums already paid, or ask for a much higher premium.
Moreover, if you die and the insurer finds out about your lie, your beneficiary will no receive the death benefit, nor a refund of the premiums you paid throughout your life, effectively making your life insurance policy entirely useless. And if you die from a condition the insurance company had no idea you had, there is a possibility that the policy will not pay.
6. Always Pay Your Premiums
Not making timely payments may lead to extra charges or cancellation of the policy. Some insurers may be more understanding or allow a certain late period before suspending coverage, but it's important to pay the full amount on time. For convenience, you could set up auto-payments from a savings account.
7. Review the Policy Regularly
This ensures that the insurance coverage is up to date in terms of the changes that may have occurred in your life since you purchased it. Consider reviewing it at the end or beginning of each year. Doing so also helps you balance your financial situation and other plans, such as marriage, having a baby, retiring, or selling you house. It is also important if you need to convert your term insurance to a permanent policy in case your health changes for the worse. This is because you may not be eligible to for a new policy.
8. The Earlier the Better
Buy life insurance when young because it will always be much cheaper. More often than not, the younger you are, the less you will pay for more coverage as compared to an older individual (find out what is The Perfect Age to Get Life Insurance).
9. Tell Your Beneficiary
When you die, your beneficiary must be aware of the existing policy in order to follow-up and file a claim. No insurance company is going to come out to reveal of the death benefits to the listed beneficiary.
Since there is such a large variety of coverage options and benefits available in life insurance products, follow these tips to get your feet wet and stop you from making any rash decisions. Take the time to carefully consider the many policies and features available before settling on one.