Life Insurance Basics: Getting Started

Let’s be honest. The topic of life insurance isn’t exciting or glamorous, but it is important. In fact, many experts consider life insurance to be the cornerstone of good financial planning.

But how do you know if you need life insurance? How much is enough? What kind of life insurance policy is best for you?

Answering these basic questions about life insurance will help to simplify the shopping process and ultimately allow you to select the best policy to secure your family’s future for years to come.

Establishing Your Needs

To clear up any misconceptions, life insurance is designed to protect your loved ones from financial loss in the event of your death. Knowing this, it’s important to establish whether you need life insurance and how much you should purchase.

According to MetLife you generally need life insurance if:

  • You have a spouse
  • You have dependent children
  • Relatives or elderly parents depend on your income
  • Your retirement funds are not enough to provide for your spouse’s future
  • You own a business
  • You have a large estate

The beneficiaries of your life insurance policy can use the proceeds from your life insurance to:

  • Pay for last expenses and funeral costs
  • Cover estate taxes (if applicable)
  • Pay off existing debts (mortgage, car loan, credit card debt)
  • Pay for everyday expenses (food, clothing, childcare)
  • Put towards your spouse’s retirement fund
  • Donate to charity

If you don’t have dependents, you may still wish to purchase a life insurance policy to avoid becoming a financial burden to your loved ones in the untimely event of your death. Young singles also benefit from purchasing life insurance while they’re young and healthy, allowing them to secure a low premium for years to come.

Choosing a Dollar Amount

Figuring out how much life insurance your loved ones would need to maintain their quality of living can be tough. Generally speaking, experts recommend purchasing between 5 and 10 times your annual salary. But, as MetLife points out, your exact need for life insurance will depend on your personal and financial circumstances.

You can get a ballpark estimate of your life insurance needs by first totaling the funds your family would need for the abovementioned items (funeral costs, daily living, etc.). You can find helpful worksheets online that will help you organize and come up with this list of expenses.

After you’ve totaled your expenses, take stock of the funds you have in cash, savings, retirement accounts, bonds, property, pension and Social Security. Subtracting your financial resources from your expenses will give you a rough idea of how much life insurance you should purchase.

When it comes to choosing how much life insurance to purchase, it’s a good idea to get an idea of your needs before buying a policy–but your licensed life insurance professional will undoubtedly help you choose a dollar amount that accurately reflects the needs of your beneficiaries.

Selecting a Policy

Generally speaking, there are two types of life insurance: term life insurance and permanent life insurance. The type of policy you select will depend largely on your life insurance needs and what resources you have to pay life insurance premiums.

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance, as the name suggests, will cover you for a specified amount of time, which means the insurer will only pay out a death benefit if you die during the term of your policy.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), most people purchase a 20-year term policy, although smaller terms are available. Of course, you can renew your term life policy after it expires, although your premiums may increase as you age. But all in all, because of the “temporary” nature of term life insurance, policies are generally much cheaper and are therefore an attractive option for young people and families with a limited income.

Permanent Life Insurance

On the other hand, permanent life insurance, as you might have guessed, is permanent. A permanent life policy will pay out a death benefit whether you die tomorrow or in 60 years.

Permanent life insurance is also an appealing option for many because of the added benefit of the policy growing on a tax-deferred basis, which can grow to be fairly large over time. As a policyholder, you may be able to borrow against this cash value while alive, which has been of great help to some. Of course, most loans need to be paid back otherwise they will be subtracted from the death benefit, and your beneficiaries may have to liquidate assets to pay back the loan.

Nonetheless, permanent life insurance offers a wide variety of saving and investment options. Because of this, policies are generally more expensive than term policies, which may be hard for young adults to handle.

Your life insurance professional will help you decide which type of policy is best for your life insurance needs–and your budget. But researching these policy types beforehand can help you narrow down which policies appeal to you.

Knowledge is Power

No, learning about life insurance and planning for the unexpected isn’t glamorous, but it is important. So take advantage of consumer resources and talk to a life insurance professional about purchasing affordable life insurance. You’ll rest easier at night knowing your loved ones are taken care of for years to come!

Life Insurance Troubleshooting: Your Policy Problems Answered

While many of us understand the basic functions of our life insurance policies, it’s not uncommon for questions to arise long after you purchased the policy.

To help address your policy problems, we’ll answer four of the most common life insurance questions to help you gain understanding and control of your life insurance policy.

Questions Answered

How do I file a life insurance claim?

To begin the claim process, you’ll need to obtain a couple copies of the policyholder’s death certificate. If you have trouble obtaining copies of the death certificate from the hospital or coroner’s office, your funeral director should be able to get you a copy.

Next, you’ll need to contact your life insurance agent. Your agent will help you complete the necessary paperwork to file the claim. If you’re not sure who the insured’s agent was, you can contact the insurance company directly and someone will help you file the claim. Remember to bring a copy of the death certificate for your agent as it will be needed to ensure quick claim submittal.

How will I receive the death benefit?

Once the life insurance claim is submitted, you’ll need to choose how the life insurance proceeds will be allocated.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), there are generally four ways to distribute the death benefit:

Lump Sum. You receive the entire death benefit in one payment.

Specific interest provision. The insurance company pays you both principle and interest on a prearranged schedule.

Life income. You receive a guaranteed income for life. However, the amount you receive depends on the benefit amount, your gender and age at the insured’s time of death.

Interest income. The life insurance company holds the proceeds but pays you interest on the policy. Thus, the death benefit remains in tact and goes to a second beneficiary after you die.

No matter which option you choose, you should receive the proceeds from the policy within days of filing the claim. Life insurance companies are required by law to pay claims in this fashion. To learn about the guidelines under which your insurer must pay a claim, contact your state’s division of insurance.

What should I do if I can’t find the policy?

Unfortunately, there’s no database for purchased life insurance policies. That’s why it’s very important to know where the insured’s life insurance policy is at all times. Nonetheless, there are some things you can try to locate a lost policy.

You can start by trying to determine:

  • Which company might have issued the policy
  • Which agent may have issued the policy
  • Whether the policyholder had life insurance through an employer, union or other group

The I.I.I. recommends trying to locate that information by:

Searching records, storage areas and safe deposit boxes. There you may find insurance-related documents, old checks, premium payment receipts or policy notices.

Contacting the policyholder’s legal and financial consultants. Previous and current consultants may have some information regarding the deceased’s life insurance.

Contacting the insured’s employer(s). Previous and/or current employers will be able to tell you if the policyholder had a group life insurance policy.

Checking tax returns. By checking past tax returns, you may find interest income from or paid to a life insurance company.

Checking the mail. Even if the policy was paid up, the insurance company will send an annual premium or dividend notice in regard to the policy.

Checking north of the border. If there’s a possibility that the policy was purchased in Canada, you can contact the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association at (800) 268-8009, or visit them on the Web.

Probing the MIB database. While there’s no database for life insurance policyholders, there is a database for life insurance applicants. For $75, you can search the MIB database, and while it rarely pays off (MIB finds about one in five policies), it might be worth a shot.

If these tips still don’t result in the location of a lost policy, contact your own agent, lawyer or financial consultant as they may have additional recommendations.

What if I can’t pay my life insurance premiums?

Financial hardship can fall on anyone. If this happens to you and you can’t pay your life insurance premium, you should know what to expect.

Generally speaking, if you have a term life insurance policy, not paying your premiums will result in a lapsed policy, which means that the policy will automatically be cancelled and you probably won’t see any proceeds from the policy.

If you have a permanent life insurance policy, the I.I.I. says you’ll have some of the following options:

Cash out the policy. When you cash out, you’ll stop paying the premium and collect any available cash value. However, if the sum of the cash value is more than what you’ve paid in premiums, that cash may be taxed.

Non-forfeiture. A “reduced paid-up” option might be available to you, allowing you to stop paying premiums completely for a reduced death benefit and no cash savings. You may also be able to convert a permanent policy into an extended term policy.

Lapsed policy. If you choose to let your policy lapse, you may be able to get it reinstated. Some insurance companies allow you to do this if you do so within five years of lapsing. Reinstatement, however, may be contingent on your ability to pass a medical exam and pay back the premiums owed plus interest.

If you fall on hard times, be sure to contact your life insurance agent right away to work out an arrangement. Depending on your circumstances, it’s generally better not to let a permanent policy completely lapse as you may forfeit the cheap life insurance you had when you bought the policy.

Don’t Let Your Questions Go Unanswered!

If you have questions about your life insurance policy, it’s always a good idea to discuss them with an insurance agent. They can give you new, up-to-date and state-specific information about your life insurance policy so you won’t have any surprises down the line!

Taking All the Questions Out of Life Insurance Types and Requirements

Are you ever too old to get life insurance? Not necessarily, but contrary to insurance salespeople, not everyone is a candidate for life insurance. There is also a lot of confusion around the difference between types of insurance such as term life and whole life insurance. Our goal is to take the confusion out of all your life insurance needs.

Many people do not understand whether or not they actually require life insurance. Most people try and avoid thinking about it and justify it by claiming they won’t need any money when they are dead. That is indeed true, but the bigger question is, “Will your spouse and or dependants need money?” If they answer is yes, you may be shopping for life insurance. The next question is what kind?

You can choose from term life insurance, whole life insurance, universal or variable universal life insurance, no-load life insurance and let’s not forget mortgage life insurance. This is a great way to have your mortgage paid off immediately if you die. This will mean your family can live mortgage free for as long as they own the house. With all the different types of life insurance policies, it no wonder most people choose not to do anything. Our goal is to take the mystery out of these policies so that you can make an informed decision.

The Different Types of Life Insurance

o Term Life Insurance: Term insurance is the backbone of most life insurance policies. You pay a fixed premium over a specified period of time. If you happen to die during that timeframe, the insurance company pays you the pre-determined amount. The issue with term life insurance is that if you don’t die within that period, the coverage ceases to exist and you are left with nothing. Another issue with term life insurance is that your premium can go up after a period of time. You can often buy another insurance policy after the term expires, the rate however will often be much higher.

o Whole Life Insurance: Unlike term insurance, whole life insurance covers you for your entire life. Basically, you pay a premium each month for the rest of your life. If you choose, you may cash in the policy while you are still alive and receive a lump sum amount. Whole life insurance policies have a face value and a cash value. The face value is the amount that is paid at death or policy maturity, the cash value is the amount you receive is you surrender the policy before you die or it matures.

o Universal Life Insurance: This type of insurance again is very different than the two above. This type of insurance policy takes your premiums and invests them into bonds, mortgages and money market funds. Your investment fund pays for the cost of the death benefit that is set when you purchase this life insurance. If your investment fund does poorly, the insurance company is on the hook to pay out a minimum guaranteed amount. This type of life insurance policy is a bit more flexible than the others because you can change the premiums and death benefits to fit your current budget. This type of flexibility is often popular with younger couples or families where circumstances can change quickly.

o Variable Universal Life Insurance: This type of insurance policy will depend heavily on how well your investment opportunities have done over the years. The better the investments do, the greater the death benefit payoff for you.

o No-Load Life Insurance: Low-load or no-load life insurance often times has fewer expenses than a traditional life insurance policy. What this means for you is that more of your premium goes towards earning you more money rather than commissions and other expenses. Speak to your financial advisor as they will likely sells no-load or low-load life insurance policies for a flat fee versus a commission.

Once you have decided that you are going to buy life insurance, the next question you need to ask is,”How much?” We highly recommend that you speak with your financial advisor and accountant. They will be able to help you determine exactly the amount of cash your family will require to maintain their current standard of living if anything should ever happen to you. They will be able to help determine what kind of life insurance rate you can afford based on your current income and expenses.

We hope we have achieved our goal about informing you on the various types of insurance on the market. There are a number of excellent insurance brokers who can offer you a range of products. We hope you have given you some information so that you can ask the right questions for you and your family.

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Benefits of Choosing the Best Electrician

It is vital for you to ensure that you select the best electrician if you are facing electrical problems either at home or in your commercial space. The task of handling electrical problems by yourself can be challenging. The reason why it is a challenge is that you may not have the required skills. You may, therefore, end up risking your loved one’s lives, your life and the safety of the building. Some of the benefits of choosing the ideal electrician is that you will be assured of high-quality electrical services and also you will be assured of safety maintenance. This article will help to know the reasons why it is essential to hire the ideal electrician.

First off, choosing the ideal electrician will help you to get high-quality electrical services. When you choose an experienced electrician you will be assured that he/she can handle any electrical problem. The best electrician can help you to maintain, install and repair . Choosing the best electrician will ensure that you will get the best electrical solutions since the electrician has the required skills and expertise.

Choosing the best electrician is also essential since you will get to receive electrical services that meet the set standards. Also, the electrician knows where to get a permit that allows him/her to handle the electrical services. Hence, you will be assured that the electrical services that will be offered to you will meet the required standards.

Enhanced safety is another advantage of selecting the best electrician. If you have are experiencing an electrical problem in your residential home or your commercial space you need to make sure that you choose the best electrician. Another benefit of choosing the ideal electrician is that you will get to maintain the safety of your family or your commercial building. You will be assured that you will get electrical services that will help to provide you value for your money.

Choosing the best electrician can however guarantee that you will get to enjoy the above benefits. You need to consider some factors for you to choose the best electrician. Ensure that you choose a trained and experienced electrician. You should also ensure that you consider if the electrician has a license so that you can get quality and legit electrical services. The electrical services fee is another factor you need to consider when selecting an electrician. Ensuring that the electrician charges rates you can comfortably afford when you choose the best electrician.

Lastly, when you select the best electrician you will be assured of quality electrical services.

Reasons to Buy Life Insurance

For many people, the first introduction to life insurance is when a friend or a “friend of a friend” gets an insurance license. For others, a close friend or relative died without having adequate coverage or any life insurance. For me, I was introduced to a life insurance company where I had to set appointments with friends and family as I learned the ends and outs of the industry and hopefully, make some sales.

Unfortunately, however, this is how most people acquire life insurance – they don’t buy it, it is sold to them. But is life insurance something that you truly need, or is it merely an inconvenience shoved under your nose by a salesperson? While it may seem like the latter is true, there are actually many reasons why you should purchase life insurance.

As we grow older, get married, start a family, or begin a business, we need to understand that life insurance is absolutely necessary. For example, picture a safety net. You may be the greatest tightrope walker in the world, without a doubt. You could perform without a net, but, “Why?” You cherish your life and the life of those close to you and you wouldn’t do anything that showed that you felt differently. Let’s face it, we have no control over the unpredictability of life or of unforeseen occurrences. With that in mind, just as a safety net protects the uncertainty life, so does life insurance. It is an indispensable and fundamental foundation to a sound financial plan. Over the years, life insurance has given many caring and responsible people the peace of mind knowing that money would be available to protect the ones most important in their life, family and estate in a number of ways, including:

1. To Pay Final Expenses

The cost of a funeral and burial can easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars, and I don’t want my wife, parents, or children to suffer financially in addition to emotionally at my death.

2. To Cover Children’s Expenses

Like most caring and responsible parents, it is necessary to be sure that our children are well taken care of and can afford a quality college education. For this reason, additional coverage is absolutely essential while children are still at home.

3. To Replace the Spouse’s Income

If one parent passes away while the children are young, the surviving caring parent would need to replace that income, which is essential to their lifestyle. The responsible surviving parent would need to hire help for domestic tasks like cleaning the house, laundry, and cooking. Add to that equation if it is a single parent, helping with schoolwork, and taking your children to doctor’s visits.

4. To Pay Off Debts

In addition to providing income to cover everyday living expenses, a family would need insurance to cover debts like the mortgage, so they wouldn’t have to sell the house to stay afloat.

5. To Buy a Business Partner’s Shares

In a business partnership, the partners need insurance on each other partner’s life. The reason is so if one dies, the others will have enough cash to buy his interest from his heirs and pay his share of the company’s obligations without having to sell the company itself. They have the same needs (due to the risk that one of the partners might die), and they simultaneously purchased insurance on each other’s life.

6. To Pay Off Estate Taxes

Estate taxes can be steep, so having insurance in place to pay them is essential to avoid jeopardizing assets or funds built for retirement. Use of insurance for this purpose is most common in large estates, and uses permanent (rather than term) insurance to ensure that coverage remains until the end of life.

7. To Provide Living Benefits

With the advancements in medicine and rising healthcare costs, people are living longer, but cannot afford to. Living benefits is an option to use death proceeds before the insured dies to help with obligations or necessities to ease the pressure on themselves and others.

How Much Coverage Should I Buy?

The face amount, or “death benefit” of an insurance policy (i.e., the amount of proceeds paid to the beneficiary) should be high enough to replace the after-tax income you would have earned had you lived a full life, presuming you can afford the annual premiums for that amount. In other words, the insurance replaces the income you didn’t have the chance to earn by living and working until retirement due to a premature death.

The proper amount of insurance allows your family to continue their lifestyle, even though your income is no longer available. The actual amount that you should purchase depends upon your present and probable future incomes, any special circumstances affecting you or your family, and your existing budget for premiums.

Whole Life or Term?

Some people prefer to drive Cadillac, Lincoln or Rolls Royce, which come with all of the electronic gadgets that make driving safe and as easy as possible. Others prefer less customized makes, equally reliable to their more expensive cousins, but requiring more hands-on attention.

Whole life is the “Cadillac” of insurance; these companies try to do everything for you, specifically investing a portion of your premiums so that the annual cost doesn’t increase as you grow older. The investment characteristic of the insurance means that premiums are generally higher than a similar term policy with the same face value. After all, whole life insurance is intended to cover your whole life.

Term insurance, on the other hand, is temporary life insurance. There are no excess premiums to be invested, and no promises or guarantees beyond the end of the term, which can range from 1 to 30 years. The annual premium for term insurance is always less than whole life, lacking the investment component, but your premiums will rise (often substantially) once the term period expires.

Both types of life insurance, term or whole life (or one of their derivatives) have benefits and drawbacks; both have their place depending upon the needs, desires, and financial objectives of the purchaser. A knowledgeable professional insurance agent can help you decide which type of policy is best for you depending upon your circumstances. But whichever you select, be sure that you have enough coverage to meet your objectives in the short term and the long term.

The Last Word

Some people mistakenly believe that life insurance is a scam. This is because the money for premiums is lost if death doesn’t occur during the coverage period (in the case of term insurance), or because many people live to a ripe old age and continue to pay their permanent insurance premiums. Such naysayers compare life insurance protection to gambling, and forgo the protection entirely.

There are others, who have the belief that life insurance does not help them. To those individuals, the answer is: You are absolutely correct! The truth of the matter is that life insurance is a way for caring and responsible people to help ensure that their family can continue to move forward in the event of your untimely demise, a truly difficult time of loss. Of course, there is no bet – you will die, but no one knows when. It could be today, tomorrow, or 50 years into the future, but it will happen eventually.

Do you have life insurance? Why or why not?

Choosing the Best Life Insurance Option for You

Life insurance in the UK is becoming more and more popular with many people now realizing the importance and the benefits of a good life insurance policy. There are two main types of popular life insurance, both of which offer a range of invaluable benefits to UK consumers.

Level Term Life Insurance

Level term life insurance is the most popular type of life insurance policy with UK consumers, and this may be because it is also the cheapest form of insurance. With level term insurance, you and your family can enjoy peace of mind at an affordable price. If you die during the term of this insurance policy, your family will receive a lump sum payment, which can help to cover a number of costs as well as provide some degree of financial security at what will inevitably be a difficult time. The money could assist with costs such as:

  • Mortgage repayments
  • Funeral costs
  • Education costs for the children
  • Day-to-day living

One of the reasons that level term life insurance is a fair bit cheaper than other life insurance is because the insurer only has to make a payment if the insured party passes away, and even then the insured party has to die during the term of the policy for the next of kin (or the named beneficiary) to be eligible for a payout. One of the great things about levels term insurance is that you can benefit from cover for just a few pounds each week, and because the payments remain the same throughout the term of the policy, you’ll never have to worry about rising payments.

The reason why a level term insurance policy is so called is because the repayment remain level throughout the term of the policy, so you will never have to worry about the cost of your policy rising. The policy is also taken over a fixed term, which is where the ‘term’ part of the policy comes in. This means that you can enjoy easy budgeting and low cost repayments, and you’ll know exactly how long you will be making payment for. On the downside, once the policy expires you will not be able to reclaim any money and the policy will be cancelled, so you will then need to look at taking out alternative life insurance cover.

The average term of a level term life insurance policy – unless otherwise specified – is fifteen years. There are a variety of factors that contribute to the cost of the policy such as whether you go for the most basic package or whether you include a bolt-on such as critical illness cover, whether you are a smoker, your general health, and the term over which you take the policy out.

Whole Life Insurance

Unlike level term life insurance, whole life cover offers a guaranteed payout, which to many people makes it better value for money in the long run. Although the repayments on this type of cover are more expensive than level term insurance, the insurer will make pay out whenever the insured party passes away, so the higher monthly payments will guarantee a payout at some point.

There are a number of different types of whole life insurance policies, and consumers can select the one that best fits their needs and their budget. As with other insurance policies, you can tailor-make your whole life insurance cover to include additional cover such as critical illness insurance. The variations on whole life insurance cover include:

Non-profit UK whole life insurance policies: This is the simplest form of whole life cover, and enables you to enjoy the convenience of level payments through the term of the policy until you die. Upon death, your family received a payout and the policy becomes null and void. If you want to pay a little extra, you can take out a policy that is fixed over a specified term, which means that you will only be making payments for a certain amount of time, but your family will still receive a payout when you die.

With-profit UK whole life insurance: This is a cover and investment type scheme, where your monthly payments are split between your cover premiums and the investment side of your policy. You will enjoy a guaranteed assured sum, and you may find that your insurer adds discretionary bonuses.

Low cost UK whole life insurance: One of the cheapest forms of whole life cover, this type of policy features a decreasing term plan, and the policy is combined with a profits fund. As bonuses are added to the profit side of the policy, the policy term decreases. This provides a cost effective solution for those that want to enjoy the benefits of whole life insurance cover without having to make high monthly payments.

Unitised UK whole life insurance policy: When you purchase this type of whole life cover, you will also be investing in with-profit units. This means that when the insurer makes a payout, the sum awarded will be dependent upon the value of the units in comparison to the value of the death benefit (the payout will be based upon whichever is the highest in value). Each month units are cancelled in order to increase levels of death benefit cover, with reviews carried out from time to time to ensure adequate levels of death benefit cover.

Summary

Both level term insurance policies and whole life policies offer valuable peace of mind to policyholders. The cost of this type of life cover is a small price to pay for the peace of mind that comes with being protected, and you can increase this peace of mind by adding extras such as critical illness to your policy for just a small extra fee.

As a nation, we like to insure just about everything we can…our cars, our homes, our belongings, our pets, and even our credit repayments. It therefore makes sense that we should insure the most important thing of all – our lives.