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Most consumers believe all life insurance products are the same. Die and the policy pays out death benefits to dependents, such as the spouse and kids.

There are actually many flavors of life insurance, which adds flexibility to this insurance product.

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Differences Among Them

Whole life insurance means the product is permanent, residing with the policy holder for the duration of life, or 100 years old, typically. In addition, whole life insurance policyholders have a two-pronged product that pays out a death benefit but also builds cash value.

The standard term life insurance policies, on the other hand, have just the death benefit and carry a policy end date. The end date is defined by the term of the policy, such as five years up to 30 years.

Typically, term life insurance is cheaper than whole life products because it only offers the death benefit.

Leveling the Life Insurance Field

Not everything about whole life is level. Look for level premiums and benefits if you would like to receive the same payout for the same recurring premium throughout the life of the policy.

It is best to decide what you would ideally like from your life insurance before shopping. Licensed insurance agents are capable of explaining the many facets of their company’s insurance offerings.

If you know what you want, you tell them, and they know what products they can fit to your needs.

Additionally, learning the definitions and the basics of life insurance policies helps you make more informed decisions. The American Council of Life Insurance publishes an electronic guide on What You Should Know About Buying Life Insurance. It is a free download that provides useful tips.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners also publishes an online guide for buying life insurance. It is available here.

Questions to Determine Insurance Needs

online rate comparison for life insuranceAsk yourself the following to decide what insurance to buy:
  1. How long do you need your insurance policy?
  2. How much insurance do you need?
  3. Do you want to have a “reward” for paying premiums for all those years?
  4. Do you only want coverage to pay out a death benefit
  5. Do you want to be able to adjust your policy to tailor your life changes?

When you review your answers to the above list, you might find yourself with more questions than answers. That is perfectly normal.

Buying life insurance can be like peeling the layers off of an onion. As you do this, you pare down to the most important information for you to buy insurance.

The first question basically directs you on whether you need a whole life, or permanent policy, versus a term or temporary policy.

If you decide that you only have your kids under your roof for the next five years, because the youngest is 13, then you might want a term policy.

Then again, you may just be starting out your family and have another 20 or more years before you are released from any financial obligations. If you are looking for a reward for yourself, then you may want a whole life policy.

Whole life builds cash value over your lifetime, so long as you keep up with the policy premiums.

Deciding How Much Insurance

  1. Do you have a mortgage to payoff in the case of your death?
  2. Do you have kids who would rely upon you for financial contribution toward college, high school, or grammar school?
  3. Does your spouse rely upon you for financial help too?

Those are just some of the reasons people buy insurance. Basically, policyholders think beyond funeral and burial costs and consider the costs of life for their dependents.

The cost of premiums is one factor that steers many households toward the term life route.

It can be too expensive for many budgets.

Flexibility of Policies

types of term life insuranceNot all policies are the same. That’s a good motto to remember whenever you find a policy that you think is OK, but not great. There are other options out there.

For instance, if you are keen on having just a term policy for your family for now, but want to get more insurance later, you can.

Find a policy or insurance carrier that allows you to convert your policy. Converting means you could change it into a whole life policy or change the terms on it.

These days, many policyholders are converting their life insurance into source for long-term care funding.

Many people outlive their policies but cannot afford the costs of long term care insurance. Long term care coverage pays for the costs of in-home, hospice, and assisted living care centers.

You may be able to add a rider onto your life insurance for far less than it would cost to buy a separate policy.

The same holds true for mortgage payoff insurance. It pays off your policy if you die. Though, this specific line of coverage is often much more costly when compared to the premium payments you would make for a much more robust life insurance policy.

Benefits of Life Insurance

With a whole life policy, your beneficiaries determine how they spend the money. They receive the money tax-free. Be sure you let them know that they are your beneficiaries. The insurance companies do not track deaths and cross-reference deaths with policy holders. It is up to you to ensure that your family knows they are on a policy.

At the least, have it listed with your estate attorney. Even with life insurance, you still need to have an estate attorney. It will help you make sure your family is alerted of their inheritance, while guiding them through the process in the state you lived.

Shop Around for Coverage

When you know what you want then it is time to research the life insurance options available to you. Compare the costs of coverage and benefits among as many carriers as possible. While it is a big responsibility to shop around, it is worth your time.

Whole life insurance is an excellent product for many consumers. Read up on the topic to find out if it is best for you and your dependents. Then compare the costs and benefits of the policies offered to you.

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