Now and then people get into conversations about life insurance, what it does and how much they have, but does anyone really “get” what life insurance is all about?
In a nutshell, life insurance gives money to a listed beneficiary (friend, spouse, family member) if the person who holds the policy dies. In most cases, people buy life insurance to cover their final expenses such as the funeral and burial and to provide income to a beneficiary. Other reasons may include a wish to cover college expenses for someone or a legacy and to pay off estate taxes. There are exceptions to this general rule in that some people just buy a death benefit policy, while others may choose a policy that grows in value over a period of time.
If you don’t know what you want, the best place to start is to review the basics of life insurance, figure out how much coverage you actually need, what type of insurance might best suit you and how the underwriting process works. You certainly don’t have to do this on your own and in fact you’d be one smart life insurance shopper if you took the time to speak to a life insurance expert about the various options you may choose.
Usually the first thing people wonder about when they start thinking about life insurance is how much coverage they should get. There isn’t a right or a wrong number for the amount you would need to cover expenses upon death, but there are a few things you should consider. Take into account what your current financial position happens to be, meaning what are your assets, income, expenses and liabilities? Do you have an idea of what your final expenses would be? What debts are you carrying that might be long-term in nature for your family? Do you want to leave income for a survivor?
Depending on your answers, you should be able to get a rough idea of the amount of life insurance you may need. For example if you want to make sure someone has income on your death, you need to also take into consideration the yearly interest rate. So really life insurance is all about planning for your goals and then finding the right vehicle to carry out your wishes.
You need to know that there are four categories of life insurance you may consider and those are considered to be the primary types of life insurance: term life, whole life, variable universal life and universal life. Before you make any choices about what you ultimately buy, you should be asking questions about the features and benefits of each choice available. Be aware that some insurance plans offer some form of cash accumulation while others do not.
In order to be approved for life insurance you will need to go through an underwriting process which basically means filling out a general medical and financial application and a physical examination. In most cases the whole process may take about 3 to 6 weeks for approval. At that point, you will start paying your life insurance premiums.