The Best Way To Find The Most Affordable Life Insurance To Fit Your Needs

Life insurance provides financial protection for beneficiaries in the event of the insured’s death. Life insurance benefits can serve as a replacement of lost income to your family or to pay bills and final expenses. The best way to find the most affordable insurance is by understanding what types of insurance are available and what they provide for you.

Life insurance may be divided into two basic classes – Term and Permanent. Term life insurance provides life insurance coverage for a specified term of years for a specified premium. The policy does not accumulate cash value. Term is generally considered “pure” insurance, where the premium buys protection in the event of death and nothing else. There are less expensive premiums for younger people, but rates go up with age.

Permanent life insurance is life insurance that remains in force until the policy matures, unless the owner fails to pay the premium when due. The policy cannot be cancelled by the insurer for any reason except fraud in the application, and that cancellation must occur within a period of time defined by law (usually two years). Permanent insurance builds a cash value that reduces the amount at risk to the insurance company and thus the insurance expense over time.

The three basic types of permanent insurance are whole life, universal life, and endowment.
Whole life insurance provides for a level premium, and a cash value table included in the policy guaranteed by the company. The primary advantages of whole life are guaranteed death benefits, guaranteed cash values, fixed and known annual premiums, and mortality and expense charges will not reduce the cash value shown in the policy.

The primary disadvantages of whole life are premium inflexibility, and the internal rate of return in the policy may not be competitive with other savings alternatives. Riders are available that can allow one to increase the death benefit by paying additional premium. The death benefit can also be increased through the use of policy dividends.

Premiums are much higher than term insurance in the short-term, but cumulative premiums are roughly equivalent if policies are kept in force until average life expectancy. Cash value can be accessed at any time through policy “loans”. Since these loans decrease the death benefit if not paid back, payback is optional. Cash values are not paid to the beneficiary upon the death of the insured; the beneficiary receives the death benefit only.

Universal life insurance is a relatively new insurance product intended to provide permanent insurance coverage with greater flexibility in premium payment and the potential for a higher internal rate of return. A universal life policy includes a cash account. Premiums increase the cash account. Interest is paid within the policy (credited) on the account at a rate specified by the company. This rate has a guaranteed minimum but usually is higher than that minimum. Mortality charges and administrative costs are charged against (reduce) the cash account. The surrender value of the policy is the amount remaining in the cash account less applicable surrender charges, if any.

A universal life policy addresses the perceived disadvantages of whole life. Premiums are flexible. The internal rate of return is usually higher because it moves with the financial markets. Mortality costs and administrative charges are known. And cash value may be considered more easily attainable because the owner can discontinue premiums if the cash value allows it. And universal life has a more flexible death benefit because the owner can select one of two death benefit options. Option A pays the face amount at death and Option B pays the face amount plus the cash value.

But universal life has its own disadvantages, which stem primarily from its flexibility. The policy lacks the fundamental guarantee that the policy will be in force unless sufficient premiums have been paid and cash values are not guaranteed.
Endowments are policies, which mature before the normal endowment age. Endowments are considerably more expensive (in terms of annual premiums) than either whole life or universal life because the premium paying period is shortened and the endowment date is earlier. Annuities are a financial product issued by life insurance companies but are not life insurance policies.

Your insurance needs will change throughout your lifetime and your particular situation.

· Singles: Insurance needs primarily concern final expenses.

· Young parents: Insurance needs focus on family protection, income replacement and final expenses.

· Latter-stage parents: Insurance needs center on preservation of family income and lifestyle, final expenses, as well as funding for college expenses.

· Golden years: Financial and insurance needs focus on income/lifestyle protection for the surviving spouse, preservation of assets, estate distribution and final expenses.

Remember, if your life insurance policy is not doing what you need it to, you are not saving any money. Talk to a financial advisor, do your research and you will find the type of insurance that provides the benefits you need at the lowest cost.