When people first think of life insurance, it's usually term life insurance that comes to mind. You pay a certain amount per year and if you die your beneficiary gets a certain amount of money. Is term your only choice – and, more importantly – is it the right choice for your situation?
There are two basic types of life insurance: term life and permanent life. With term life insurance, you pay a set premium for a certain amount of coverage for a certain length of time – the term. For example, based on your age, health and lifestyle you may pay $ 350 per year for a $ 300,000 benefit for 10 years. After 10 years, the term is over and you need to reapply for coverage. Different terms are available from one year to 30 years.
There are different types of permanent insurance – whole life, universal life, variable life – but the idea is the same. You pay a premium for lifetime coverage – not just a specific number of years. Additionally, your policy acts as a savings vehicle and can build cash value. This cash value is different than what the policy would pay if you died – the face value. The accumulated cash is something you can use while alive, to borrow against or surrender the policy and receive the cash value back. Permanent life insurance premiums are more expensive than term life insurance, but the premium typically stays the same for life.
When deciding which type of life insurance to buy, think about you and your family's needs first. For example, if you are starting a family, have just bought a home and are on a limited budget you'll probably want to get term life insurance. After all, the primary need of life insurance is to replace income that's lost when someone dies who has financial dependents. Term insurance provides that need at an affordable rate.
Permanent life insurance may be a good choice if you need lifelong protection and want to add to your retirement portfolio savings options. When shopping for permanent life insurance, learn about the different types of policies so you can make a decision that's best for your goals.
You should always get two to three different quotes, whether you're shopping for term life insurance or permanent life insurance. Rates between life insurance companies vary quite a bit; comparison shopping is one of the best ways to save money on life insurance.