Life insurance is kind of like the Rodney Dangerfield of financial planning. As one of most people’s least favorite financial topics, it gets no respect. Yet, it’s something that almost everyone needs and not having it when you need it can be devastating to your family’s well being. Here are some of the most common and dangerous myths about this often misunderstood product:
1) Your employer-provided life insurance is all you need.
Your employer may provide you with life insurance equal to 1-2 times your annual salary and you may even be able to purchase up to 4-6 times your salary. But there are several problems with that. First, your “salary” doesn’t typically include commissions, bonuses, and second incomes. Second, to replace your income for dependents, you generally need at least 5-8 times your income and some experts even recommend 10-12 times.
Even if you do have enough insurance through your job, you may lose it when you leave. You may be able to convert your optional insurance to an individual policy or purchase one on your own but either way, it may be much more expensive than purchasing a policy today, especially if your health deteriorates.
Finally, you may actually be able to get a better deal on your own, especially if you’re young and/or in above average health. Even if your employer’s policy is initially cheaper, the cost may go up each year and you may not be able to take it with you when you leave, You can purchase an individual policy that locks in your rate for a period of time or allows you to build cash value if you want to keep the policy your whole life. Only include your employer’s coverage in covering your needs if you can take it with you at affordable rates. Otherwise, consider it a bonus.
2) Only the breadwinner needs life insurance.
“Imagine if something were to happen to the stay-at-home spouse in your family. The breadwinner may need to hire someone to clean and take care of the kids and that can cost a lot of money. Unless your family would have that extra income to spare, you may need life insurance on both spouses,” advises Marvin Feldman, President and CEO of life insurance non-profit organization, Life Happens. Insurance on the stay-at-home spouse also gives the working parent the opportunity to take time off work and help the family adjust to their loss.
3) Life insurance is really expensive.
A recent study conducted by Life Happens and LIMRA, found that 25% of Americans said they need more life insurance but only 10% planned to purchase it within the next year. The main reason given was cost, with 63% saying that it’s too expensive. However, 80% of them overestimated the cost. 25% thought that a $250k 20-year level term policy for a healthy 30-yr old would cost $1k a year or more when it actually would cost about $150.
4) My health disqualifies me from life insurance.
There are a lot of companies that cover a range of health conditions and some even specialize in high-risk cases. You can also purchase a policy that is not medically underwritten at all. Just be aware that they tend to be more expensive and have lower coverage limits.
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Szerlip & Co look to provide information on various aspects of insurance to secure your home, auto or business. Call today at 973-467-0400 to speak to one of our life insurance professionals or email us your questions.