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Beginner’s Guide to Life Insurance

April 14, 2017 9:16 pm

life insurance

If you were not here tomorrow, what or who would you want taken care of? Whether it’s to leave enough money to pay off your house, or to make sure your kids can pay for college, having life insurance can help to lift the burdens of life’s ‘what ifs’ and give your family a safety net should anything happen to you.

According to LIMRA, 70 percent of U.S. households with children under 18 wouldn’t be able to afford their living expenses within a few months of a household breadwinner passing away. 4 in 10 households with children under 10 said they would struggle immediately should they suffer a loss of income due to a family death.

In a 2013 study done by LIMRA, 85 percent of consumers agreed that most people needed life insurance, yet just 62 percent said they had it. They also found that most people overestimate the cost of life insurance by three times its actual amount, believing that a 20-year, $250,000 level term life policy for a healthy 30-year-old costs $400 annually when in reality, it can be closer to $150, depending on individual needs.

Give yourself some peace of mind and investigate the life insurance policies on the market today. We have some helpful tips below to make your search easier.


We’ve teamed up with Certified Credit Union Financial Counselor (CCUFC)  Karen Smith. She has compiled a few helpful tips for you to get started on your search for the right life insurance policy.

Who needs life insurance?

  • Individuals whose families depend on their income to cover daily living costs, mortgage payments, retirement or other major expenses.
  • Homemakers with young children as they are providing childcare, home maintenance etc
  • People with debt need life insurance to cover the unpaid balances so it doesn’t become a burden to their family

Those with the lowest need for life insurance are young workers who are childless, have no assets and little to no debt.

Things to take into account when searching for a life insurance policy

Life insurance provides an invaluable buffer when life throws its worst at you, but it can also be a drain on your budget if you buy more than you need or pay more than it’s worth. The key is to balance your life insurance coverage with your budget and the needs of your family – something which may change over time.

Call or visit multiple insurance companies and figure out who you feel comfortable with and speak to an agent about your needs and how their offerings match up. Get quotes from each company before deciding.


Do I need life insurance?

When deciding when to buy, there are three factors that typically drive life insurance availability and costs: age, need, and insurability, which include factors such as health and occupation. Typically, the best time to buy is when you are young and healthy.

What are the types of life insurance available?

Two types of life insurance are available:

  • Whole Life: Combines a death benefit with the opportunity to accrue savings. It’s sometimes described as ‘forced savings’ because it builds cash value simply by paying the premiums as agreed.
  • Term Life: The most affordable form of protection, with premiums that are typically priced lower than whole life policies. With term insurance, you are buying a specific amount of life insurance coverage for a specific period.
Term Whole Life
Advantages Lower premiums

May have conversion options

Can help cover specific, short-term debts or obligations

Lifetime protection

Builds cash value

Fixed premium for policy term

Has policy surrender options

Loan options

Disadvantages Limited term = limited protection

No policy surrender options

More expensive than term

How much life insurance do I need?

Determining how much life insurance is required to protect the assets and lifestyle of your family can be difficult. While many insurance companies offer formulas intended to help policyholders select the right amount, they tend to be relatively high. Consider using a needs-based formula to decide how much to purchase. Both expenses and benefits should be considered when weighing life insurance coverage based on need. Expenses to consider include:

  • Final expenses for policyholder, including medical and funeral costs
  • Educational expenses for dependents
  • Debt repayment requirements so heirs can retain assets such as a home or vehicles
  • Estate preservation or the amount required to pass along key assets to next generation
  • Loss of income due to death of wage earner
  • Maintaining a standard of living of survivor’s family
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