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Life Insurance Is Key Component of a Family Financial Plan
Industry Study Finds Too Many Households With Young Children Lack Coverage
November 5, 2010
NEW YORK, November 5, 2010 — Life insurance policies offer essential financial protection for families, especially those with school-age children, against a rare but potentially devastating event, the premature death of a household’s primary wage-earner. Yet a recent nationwide study found that the number of households covered by individual life insurance has decreased, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).
“You need life insurance coverage if you are the primary wage earner in a household, or if someone relies on you financially,” said Michael Barry, the I.I.I.’s vice president, Media Relations. “And the premium payments are reasonable when you consider the level of protection a policyholder’s beneficiaries receive.”
According to LIMRA, its upcoming 2010 Trends in Life Insurance Ownership study indicates that 11 million U.S. households with children under the age of 18 have no individual life insurance policyholder in the family. LIMRA says in the same report that individual life insurance coverage in the U.S. has hit a 50-year low.
LIMRA does note that one in four U.S. households in 2010 had a wage earner who was covered under a group life insurance policy, often secured through their employer. The economic downturn of 2008 and 2009, however, has had an impact in this area, too, because these wage earners often lose their only life insurance coverage if they become unemployed or have their work hours reduced.
In the absence of an individual or group life insurance policy, a deceased wage earner’s spouse and school-age beneficiaries may need to rely largely on Social Security survivor benefits as their main source of income.
Those in the market for life insurance need to know there are two major types of policies: Term and Permanent.
Term insurance is a form of life insurance that pays out only if the death occurs during the “term” of the policy, which is usually anywhere from one to 30 years. The premium rates for term policies are comparatively less expensive than they used to be, as Americans as a whole live longer and healthier lives.
If you are buying a short-term life insurance policy (under 10 years), look for renewal guarantees. A renewal guarantee gives you the right to start a new term after the current one ends. You will pay a higher premium based on your current age, but will not be required to undergo a new health exam nor submit any other “evidence of insurability.” Without the renewal guarantee, you would have to start from scratch when applying for a policy and, if your health has deteriorated in the interim, you might end up paying significantly higher premiums or not getting coverage at all.
Permanent life insurance encompasses several subcategories, including traditional whole life, universal life, variable life and variable universal life. Unlike term life, permanent policies remain in force as long as the premium is paid, and some policies accumulate a cash value. The premium rates for whole life policies have generally remained stable in recent years.
“Look for a policy that meets your needs,” said Barry. “There are ways to save money when buying life insurance but they don't always involve paying a lower premium immediately.”
The I.I.I. offers the following tips to maximize your life insurance dollars when buying a policy:
Before You Buy
Assess the quality of the company