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Protect What Matters to You Most
Life insurance isn’t for those who die it’s for those that live. We all love our families yet many of us fail to protect them in the event something should happen to us.
Buying life insurance will probably never be fun but we’ve made it as easy and painless as possible with our free insurance quote and apply tool below.
How Much Life Insurance Do I Need?
How much life insurance you need is a moving target as the amount of life insurance needed will change throughout your life. Most would say as a general rule someone in their 30’s to young ’40s should have 10 to 15 times his or her annual income.
Put simply, in the event you die, you want life insurance payouts to allow your spouse and children to continue their lifestyles without worrying about money. You may also want to provide for future expenses like your children’s education.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Term life and permanent life are the two main types of life insurance policies. Both offer a tax-free death benefit to your beneficiary/beneficiaries if you pass away. Term life insurance provides coverage for a set period and is often the lowest priced coverage option. Permanent life insurance provides the security of lifelong protection and can also build cash value over time.
A term life insurance policy offers affordable, straightforward protection that lasts a defined period, which you can typically set at between one and 30 years.
A universal life insurance policy offers flexible protection that can last your lifetime and includes various cash accumulation options.
A whole life insurance policy offers predictable lifelong protection with the most guarantees, including a fixed premium and death benefit.
Common Life Insurance Terms
|Death benefit||The amount paid to beneficiaries when a policyholder dies.|
|Beneficiary||The person(s) who are selected by the policyholder to receive the death benefit.|
|Premium||The regular payments made toward the insurance policy. These are typically monthly.|
|Cash value||A tax-deferred savings account that is included in permanent life insurance policies.|
Term life insurance
Term life insurance lasts for a number of years before it expires. If you die before the term is up, a set amount of money, known as the death benefit, is paid to your designated beneficiary. Term insurance is considered the simplest, most accessible life insurance policy.
When you make your payments (known as your premiums), you’re paying for the death benefit that will go to your beneficiaries when you are gone. The death benefit can be paid out as a lump sum, a monthly payment, or an annuity. Most people elect to receive their death benefit as a lump sum.
Whole life insurance
Whole life insurance, on the other hand, is a type of permanent life insurance because it does not expire. It has a death benefit and a cash value, which is an investment-like, tax-deferred savings account that is included in the policy. The cash value accrues interest at a predetermined fixed rate. Each month, a certain portion of your premium will go into the cash value of the policy, which offers a guaranteed rate of return (the exact amount that goes into savings is determined by your individual policy). The policy’s cash value grows over time and can be withdrawn when it accumulates enough value or is used for a loan.
A whole life insurance policy can cost five to 15 times as much as a term life policy for the same death benefit amount.
Whole life offers lifetime coverage as long as you pay the premiums. However, the cash value component makes whole life more complex than term life because of surrender fees, taxes, interest, and other stipulations.
Whole life insurance may be worthwhile if you need the cash value to cover things like endowments or estate plans, or if you have long-term dependents such as children with disabilities.
Term life insurance vs whole life insurance
In general, term life insurance is the best option for most people because it’s more affordable than whole life insurance. But like any insurance product, there are pros and cons to consider.
Term life insurance pros
No hidden fees, exclusions, or risks
Can cancel the policy before it expires without losing any value
Most affordable option
Term life insurance cons
Coverage expires at the end of the term, so you’ll need to shop for a new policy or convert your policy if you still need insurance
Whole life insurance pros
Doesn’t expire, so you can keep it for as long as necessary
The cash value component is useful for estate planning
Works as a forced savings vehicle
Whole life insurance cons
Five to 15 times more expensive than term
People often buy less coverage than needed or surrender policies early due to the high cost
Other investments offer higher interest rates
Surrender value of the policy changes with time
Universal life insurance
Universal life insurance has a cash value, just like a whole life insurance policy. Your premiums go toward both the cash value and the death benefit. But there’s a twist: You can change the premium and death benefit amounts without getting a new policy.
Although you need to have a minimum premium to keep the policy in force, you can use the cash value to pay that premium. That means if you have enough money in the cash value, you can use that to skip premium payments entirely, letting the accrued interest do the work until the cash value is depleted.
The cash value of a universal life policy
But the cash value of a universal life insurance policy has an interest rate that’s sensitive to current market interest rates. If the interest rate being credited to your policy decreases to the minimum rate, your premium would have to increase to offset the reduced cash value.
This flexibility makes universal life insurance attractive to some people, but it’s also confusing and generally not a good life insurance purchase.
Indexed universal life insurance
Indexed universal life insurance (IUL) is a type of universal life insurance (UL), but the way the cash value behaves differentiates the two.
An index is essentially a group of investments like stocks or bonds. The S&P 500 and the NASDAQ-100 are examples of indexes. The insurer doesn’t directly invest in the market but uses the interest rate and performance of a specific index to set the interest rate for your policy.
Indexed universal life insurance policies have a minimum guaranteed interest rate (so you won’t lose money), but the interest rates aren’t fixed or varied like some other permanent insurance policies.
IUL policies have all the same offerings as universal life insurance policies, but the way the cash value account grows and shrinks is different. While universal life’s cash value has a variable interest rate set by the life insurance company, indexed universal life’s cash value is based on an index chosen by the insurer.
How universal life insurance and indexed universal life insurance compare to basic term and whole life insurance
|FEATURES||TERM LIFE INSURANCE||WHOLE LIFE INSURANCE||UNIVERSAL LIFE INSURANCE||INDEXED UNIVERSAL LIFE INSURANCE|
|Guaranteed death benefit||Yes||Yes||Yes (but you can choose to adjust)||Yes|
|Guaranteed cash value||N/A||Yes||Protected from risk, but accrued interest can be used to pay premiums||Protected from risk, but can be depleted to pay premiums|
|How cash value grows (or shrinks)||N/A||Earns interest at a predetermined fixed rate||Variable rate determined by the life insurance company||Interest rate based on the performance of the underlying stock market index, such as the S&P 500|
|Premiums||Can increase periodically or stay at a guaranteed level for the policy duration||Level||Varies, up to the customer (subject to federal tax laws)||Varies, up to the customer (subject to federal tax laws)|
|Notes||No risk of losing coverage, but no cash value when the term ends||No risk compared to other permanent insurance types, but you may find better investment options elsewhere||The credited rate changes each year based on performance.||Financial risk is minimal if the market falls, but earnings may be capped. Limited returns could cause the policy to lapse.|
Variable life insurance
The money paid into a variable life insurance cash value goes into a series of mutual fund-like sub-accounts where you can get some decent growth, but you can also lose money depending on the market.
It can be used as an investment option
This type of policy’s cash value is more akin to investing. While this makes variable life insurance policies a better investment option than whole life insurance policies — with potential for higher, tax-deferred growth — you can only invest in the sub-accounts available through your policy. That means you don’t get to choose from the wide variety of mutual funds that are available on the open market.
It is a riskier option
The product is also riskier. Why? The same reason investing in stocks is risky: Most people don’t know much about the stock market and don’t know enough to make changes in their investment. There are too many variables for the average person to manage it effectively.
All of this makes a variable life insurance policy both a limited investment option and a limited coverage option.
What type of life insurance is best for you?
Term life insurance policies are usually the best solution for most people who need life insurance. They’re generally the most affordable, simple to understand, and they provide the straightforward protection that most people shopping for a policy would want.
That doesn’t mean that other life insurance policy types are wrong for everyone. Some people tout the benefits of a permanent life insurance policy as a “forced savings vehicle”. Many people struggle to adequately save for retirement, and a permanent policy provides separate cash accumulation for something they’d be paying for anyway (their life insurance policy).
Simplified issue and guaranteed issue life insurance are options for people who might not be able to otherwise get insured because of age or poor health. Final expense insurance is available for elderly consumers who don’t want to burden their families with burial costs.
You should always speak to a licensed independent broker or a financial advisor to determine the best insurance company and policy for you. They can help you weigh out the pros and cons of each type of coverage and help you buy the right type of insurance for your needs.
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