FAMILY FEATURES — Family Features) According to a study done by LIMRA, a non-profit life insurance industry research organization, as many as 40 percent of U.S. households would have immediate trouble meeting household expenses if a primary wage earner were to pass away today. The study also showed that a majority of Gen X and Y consumers believe they need more life insurance than they currently have. Yet according to LIMRA, 30 percent of Americans have no life insurance at all and more than half of those who do are inadequately covered.
At every stage of life, life insurance is an important consideration for protecting your family and your assets. As much as you may not want to think about it, you cannot afford to avoid making these important preparations. Life insurance can be vital to helping your loved ones maintain their standard of living after your death. If you have dependents — a spouse, domestic partner, children and/or an aging parent — you should ensure that your retirement pension and savings are sufficient to secure their future.
Many Americans think that they can’t afford life insurance, especially when some are struggling to balance the daily and monthly expenses that most households face. But life insurance is often more affordable than you might think. In fact, more than 80 percent of Americans overestimate the cost of life insurance. Most people who are uninsured believe that a 20-year, $250,000 term life policy for a healthy 30-year-old would cost $400 per year. But the real cost would actually be only a quarter of that, or about the same cost as your Netflix subscription each month.
Types of Life Insurance
If you’re unsure about life insurance, you’re not alone. Many individuals are confused about how life insurance works. According to LIMRA, 70 percent of Americans failed a 10 question basic life insurance IQ test.
The truth is not all life insurance plans are created equally. In fact, there is a whole host of different types of life insurance to fit your budget, lifestyle and needs.
One of the most common types is term life insurance, which offers affordable coverage for a specific number of years and is great if you want to provide coverage while you pay off certain debts or until you’ve fulfilled some anticipated responsibilities, such as until your children are out of college. However, while term life insurance is an affordable way to get maximum coverage, it also increases in cost after the specified period, so it may not be cost effective in the long run.
On the other hand, permanent life insurance policies are ones that do not expire. They protect your loved ones permanently. These plans typically offer more long-term security and may even accumulate cash value over time. While permanent life insurance may initially cost more than term life insurance, they can also be more cost-effective in the long term.
Depending on your responsibilities and financial situation, the best life insurance plan for you may be term insurance, permanent or one of the many other options offered by insurance companies.
Helping You Find Insurance
Many leading insurance companies are making it easier than ever to put life insurance within reach. And some companies have new products for Americans who otherwise might not have easy access to life insurance plans.
Life insurance can also provide an array of benefits to dependents such as:
- Assistance in paying off debts such as a mortgage, auto loan or credit card
- Coverage of daily living expenses
- Help with saving for expenses such as college tuition, weddings or starting a business
- Paying for funeral expenses
In addition to expanding their coverage to include families who may traditionally be underinsured, major life insurance companies have also worked to develop tools, such as insurance premium calculators, that help you select the type of life insurance that is right for your needs and concerns.
Many companies have commissioned studies that explore the changing demographics, retirement ages, lifestyle habits and compositions of American households and have developed adaptable insurance policies in response. Other insurers have taken steps to diversify their offerings to better fit the needs of customers in developing nations.
MetLife, for example, has developed insurance plans to target traditionally uninsured customers in the United States and abroad. The New York-based insurer now offers prepaid insurance policies at Walmart stores in Georgia and South Carolina, with a first month’s premium of just $5. The company has also developed initiatives to increase access to insurance in the Bogotá region of Colombia by selling policies through supermarkets, door-to-door and allowing customers to pay their insurance premiums through their natural gas utility bill.
It may seem complicated and you may not want to think about it while you’re in the prime of your life, but life insurance is easier to obtain and less expensive than you might think. There are several helpful tools and information available to help you find sufficient means to provide security for your families and loved ones. Picking life insurance shouldn’t be a burden but an easy process. You should be able to enjoy the aging process and eliminate the unknown when it comes to life insurance.