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It's one of those safety nets you hope you won't need, but should have: life insurance. If you're uncertain about needing or having enough life insurance, you're not alone. Nearly 30% of Americans are uninsured, and almost half of all those that do carry life insurance may not have enough, according to the latest survey from the Life Insurance and Market Research Association (LIMRA).

Did You Know?

37 million American families have no life insurance.

Do You Need Life Insurance? The answer depends on one criteria: dependents—but not just if you have children. If there is anyone in your life who depends on you for income or support (including a spouse, partner, aging parent or sibling), life insurance can help replace the resources you provide. Even if you aren't employed—if you provide care for others—experts advise that you carry enough life insurance to cover the cost of the contributions you make to the household.

The Math The amount of life insurance you require should be based on the sum of the answers to these three questions:

  1. How much would be needed to pay off your debt (mortgage, loans, credit cards, etc.)?
  2. How many years of future income are needed to sustain your loved ones?
  3. What types of big-ticket expenses (such as your children's school tuition or wedding costs) will be incurred during those years?

The Choices There are two basic types of life insurance products: term and permanent. Term is a policy taken out for a specified number of years and only pays out if death occurs during that time. Permanent policies pay out at the time of death no matter when it occurs.

Some permanent policies may also provide an investment component where you receive a guaranteed rate of return. These policies may also provide a return rate of the accumulated cash value of the policy.

There are two main types of permanent life insurance - whole life and universal life. In whole life policies the premiums and death benefit are fixed. In universal life policies the premium and death benefit may be variable.

 

 

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