Signs That You Need Life Insurance

Credit insurance is one of the most misunderstood and fraudulently marketed products in the field of personal finance. The types of insurance sold by creditors to debtors range from the old standard credit life and accident and sickness insurance to such worthless contracts as “life events” which will be explained below. Almost all of these policies are grossly overpriced and are a source of substantial profits for lenders and sales finance companies.

The use of insurance as a type of security for a loan or other extension of credit is not an inherently a bad choice. Both the creditor and the debtor can benefit from removing the risk of death or disability from the equation. If the reduced risk is a factor in providing a lower interest rate, or in basic credit approval, it can be a win-win situation. The problem arises, however, when the creditor intimidates or otherwise induces a customer to purchase an insurance product not for its effect on risk but as an additional and substantial source of revenue.

Normally insurance rates are set by the competitive market, which tends to hold rates down at least for the reasonably informed consumer who does some comparison shopping. Automobile insurance companies, for example, are highly competitive and the rates are seldom regulated. But in the context of an application for credit there may be no competition at the point of sale of the insurance. The creditor may be the only practicable source. The only “competition” is between insurance companies to see who can charge the highest premium and pay the highest commission to the creditor or its officers for selling the coverage. This tends to force rates up rather than down and has been dubbed “reverse competition”.

During the 1950s as consumer credit was expanding rapidly and many states had strict usury laws (laws limiting maximum finance charge rates) both lenders and sellers began relying on commissions from credit insurance premiums to pad the bottom line profits. Many engaged in selling excessive coverage (not needed to pay the debt if something happened to the debtor) and nearly all charged outrageous premiums, with 50% or more being paid to the creditor or its employees, officers or directors as “commissions” for writing the coverage. As incentives for paying as few claims as possible there were also “experience refunds” awarded to creditors, which sometimes raised the total compensation to 70% or more of the premiums. In addition, the premium was added to the loan or unpaid balance of the sale price and finance charges were charged on the premium.

Finally the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) declared it had had enough of the consumer abuse and model legislation was drawn up and passed in nearly every state authorizing insurance commissioners to limit the amount and cost of credit life and accident and sickness insurance…the two biggest sellers in the field. In some jurisdictions the legislation had very little effect because the commissioners would not seriously exercise their new regulatory powers, but in others the rates came down almost immediately. Over a number of years where there was pressure from consumer groups the rates on these two products reached a reasonable level…with some states requiring that the rates produce a 50 or 60 per cent “loss ratio”….ratio of incurred claims to earned premiums….and limiting commission payments to creditors.

While this progress helped the consumer buying credit life and accident and sickness insurance creditors soon realized that it was easy to develop new products which were not regulated under the NAIC model law…products such as “involuntary unemployment insurance” to protect the consumer against job loss and “unpaid family leave” insurance to make payments in the event of a family emergency that required the debtor to have to leave his job temporarily.

Now, back to the question of whether you should purchase credit related insurance in connection with your next transaction, that really depends on the type of transactions, your individual circumstances and the kind of coverage in question. The first question to answer before deciding who to buy credit life insurance from is whether you need life insurance at all. The first step in the answer is “Do I already have life insurance in sufficient amount to cover this obligation and other needs?” If so it is obvious you don’t need any more, and the answer should be “No”.

Life insurance is justified when (a) there are dependents to be cared for after you are gone; (b) you have a moral obligation to a co-signer or co-maker or guarantor…possibly a family member…that you will pay at least your portion of an obligation, living or dead; (c) you own property or other assets which you want to leave to someone upon your demise, and unless this debt is otherwise paid the property may have to be sold to pay it; (d) you are buying something important “on time”, such as a home or an expensive vehicle, and don’t want it to be foreclosed or repossessed if you are not there to make the payments; or (e) you and a partner have invested heavily in a business that depends on both of you working, and you don’t want your partner to suffer a hardship if you are not there. There may be other reasons, but the point is that you must examine your individual circumstances.

You do NOT need life insurance if you have no dependents, own very little and are not leaving anything to anyone, and there is no co-maker to protect, because your debts essentially die with you. No one will have to pay them if you don’t. And if there is no money to bury or cremate your remains don’t worry. Something will be done with them because public health requires it. If you want an expensive send-off buy just enough to pay for the funeral and name a beneficiary with instructions to use it for that purpose so your creditors won’t try to grab it.

If you want to make gifts to others when you die, perhaps to make up for the mistreatment of them while you were around, life insurance is a very expensive “estate substitute”. It is better to put your money into savings than to pay it to some national insurance corporation on the hope that you will profit by dying. With life insurance you are essentially betting that you will die and the insurer is betting you won’t.

Assuming you decide you need life insurance, the next question is whether to buy it from a creditor or on the open competitive market. Most of the time it is best to purchase a proper amount of term life insurance payable either to a beneficiary, or to a trust for the benefit of minor dependents, or to your estate to be used to pay your last rites and obligations. If you have it paid to a beneficiary, such as your spouse or children, your creditors cannot claim it for the payment of your bills….unless you designate a particular creditor as a beneficiary to the extent of your debt obligation. No creditor has an insurable interest in your life except to the extent of your debt.

If you owe a mortgage debt on your home it may be wise to scale your term life policy to approximate the amount of your mortgage so it will be paid off for the benefit of your spouse and children if you, a provider, cannot provide. If you have a car note you need to adjust your total life insurance amount to discharge that obligation as well, so that whoever gets the car gets it free and clear. If you don’t care what happens to the vehicle don’t worry about the additional coverage. The creditor will take it and sell it and eat the balance. It is theoretically possible for a sales finance creditor to sue an estate for a deficiency after repossession but it very seldom occurs. It’s just too much trouble.

Aside from large obligations such as home mortgages and car notes there is usually very little justification for buying life insurance, and certainly not from a creditor. The premium rates on creditor-provided life insurance are much higher, as a general rule, than the rates for other life coverage.

Credit life insurance comes in three varieties…level, decreasing, and revolving. Level life insurance begins and ends with the same coverage over the term and is normally associated with single payment obligations. It is illegal in most states to sell level life insurance on installment transactions. Decreasing credit life comes in two sub-varieties…gross and net. Gross decreasing credit life begins with the “total of payments” (the principal plus all interest you will probably have to pay over the whole term of debt) and decreases by one monthly payment each month until it reaches zero at the end of the term. Net decreasing credit life starts at the “amount financed” and declines as the principal balance declines over the term. Usually net decreasing life is enough to pay the obligation because it tracks the remaining principal, unless you fail to keep up with the payment schedule and reduce the debt accordingly. Gross decreasing life will normally be excessive at the beginning and less so as the term continues. For example, if the principal is $10,000 and there will be $4000 in finance charges on a car note over a six-year term, the insurance will start at $14,000, but during the first month the debtor in fact only owes $10,000 plus a few days interest. This means that if the debtor dies during the term the excess coverage should be paid either to the debtor’s estate or to a named beneficiary. In some states creditors are limited to net decreasing life plus three or four months of payments just in case the account is in arrears at the time of death.

Auto accident deaths create a unique insurance situation where credit life is involved because the casualty insurance on the vehicle will often pay off the car note leaving the credit life insurance to be paid directly to the debtor’s estate as a cash benefit. Millions of dollars of insurance benefits have been lost because the surviving spouse was unaware of the double coverage on the note.

“Revolving account” credit life insurance usually involves a monthly premium computed on the basis of the outstanding balance being billed. The premium covers that amount for 30 days, discharging the obligation if death occurs before the next billing date.

Unfortunately, national banks that issue credit cards have developed a scam to get around the accusation of illegally high credit life premiums. Most of them if pressed would take the position that since they are a “national” bank the states cannot limit their insurance premiums, even if the state also limits premiums charged by state banks, but this legal position stands on shaky ground.

Many have issued their own policies in the form of “debt cancellation clauses” which are amendments to credit card agreements under which the account balance will be canceled if the debtor dies. But because of the risk that some state may clamp down on their rate-setting practices they “bundle” the credit life with up to a dozen other coverages, nearly all of which are not rate-regulated, so the charges produce a very large margin of profit. They won’t sell credit life alone, but require an “all or none” purchase of the various components such as credit accident and sickness, involuntary unemployment coverage, unpaid family leave coverage and even such weird products as “college graduation”, “having a baby”, “retirement”, “divorce” and other “life events”, each of which results in a month or two of benefits at the minimum payment level on the account. These bundled products usually cost upward of $1.00 per $100 per month, or twelve per cent per annum on top of the existing finance charge rate. Truth in Lending does not require that additional 12% to be reflected in the annual percentage rate, however, because the coverage is deemed “voluntary” and not part of the “finance charge”.

So the answer to the initial question is a resounding “maybe”…depending on your individual circumstances, the options available to you, and the cost of each alternative. Perhaps having read this you will know what questions to ask and make an informed choice.

 

Choose The Right Insurance

Term Life by definition is a life insurance policy which provides a stated benefit upon the holder’s death, provided that the death occurs within a certain specified time period. However, the policy does not provide any returns beyond the stated benefit, unlike an insurance policy which allows investors to share in returns from the insurance company’s investment portfolio.

Annually renewable term life.

Historically, a term life rate increased each year as the risk of death became greater. While unpopular, this type of life policy is still available and is commonly referred to as annually renewable term life (ART).

Guaranteed level term life.

Many companies now also offer level term life. This type of insurance policy has premiums that are designed to remain level for a period of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 or even 30 years. Level term life policies have become extremely popular because they are very inexpensive and can provide relatively long term coverage. But, be careful! Most level term life insurance policies contain a guarantee of level premiums. However some policies don’t provide such guarantees. Without a guarantee, the insurance company can surprise you by raising your life insurance rate, even during the time in which you expected your premiums to remain level. Needless to say, it is important to make sure that you understand the terms of any life insurance policy you are considering.
Return of premium term life insurance

Return of premium term insurance (ROP) is a relatively new type of insurance policy that offers a guaranteed refund of the life insurance premiums at the end of the term period assuming the insured is still living. This type of term life insurance policy is a bit more expensive than regular term life insurance, but the premiums are designed to remain level. These returns of premium term life insurance policies are available in 15, 20, or 30-year term versions. Consumer interest in these plans has continued to grow each year, as they are often significantly less expensive than permanent types of life insurance, yet, like many permanent plans, they still may offer cash surrender values if the insured doesn’t die.

Types of Permanent Life Insurance Policies

A permanent life insurance policy by definition is a policy that provides life insurance coverage throughout the insured’s lifetime ñ the policy never ends as long as the premiums are paid. In addition, a permanent life insurance policy provides a savings element that builds cash value.
Universal Life

Life insurance which combines the low-cost protection of term life with a savings component that is invested in a tax-deferred account, the cash value of which may be available for a loan to the policyholder. Universal life was created to provide more flexibility than whole life by allowing the holder to shift money between the insurance and savings components of the policy. Additionally, the inner workings of the investment process are openly displayed to the holder, whereas details of whole life investments tend to be quite scarce. Premiums, which are variable, are broken down by the insurance company into insurance and savings. Therefore, the holder can adjust the proportions of the policy based on external conditions. If the savings are earning a poor return, they can be used to pay the premiums instead of injecting more money. If the holder remains insurable, more of the premium can be applied to insurance, increasing the death benefit. Unlike with whole life, the cash value investments grow at a variable rate that is adjusted monthly. There is usually a minimum rate of return. These changes to the interest scheme allow the holder to take advantage of rising interest rates. The danger is that falling interest rates may cause premiums to increase and even cause the policy to lapse if interest can no longer pay a portion of the insurance costs.

To age 100 level guaranteed life insurance

This type of life policy offers a guaranteed level premium to age 100, along with a guaranteed level death benefit to age 100. Most often, this is accomplished within a Universal Life policy, with the addition of a feature commonly known as a “no-lapse rider”. Some, but not all, of these plans also include an “extension of maturity” feature, which provides that if the insured lives to age 100, having paid the “no-lapse” premiums each year, the full face amount of coverage will continue on a guaranteed basis at no charge thereafter.

Survivorship or 2nd-to-die life insurance

A survivorship life policy, also called 2nd-to-die life, is a type of coverage that is generally offered either as universal or whole life and pays a death benefit at the later death of two insured individuals, usually a husband and wife. It has become extremely popular with wealthy individuals since the mid-1980’s as a method of discounting their inevitable future estate tax liabilities which can, in effect, confiscate an amount to over half of a family’s entire net worth!

Congress instituted an unlimited marital deduction in 1981. As a result, most individuals arrange their affairs in a manner such that they delay the payment of any estate taxes until the second insured’s death. A “2nd-to-die” life policy allows the insurance company to delay the payment of the death benefit until the second insured’s death, thereby creating the necessary dollars to pay the taxes exactly when they are needed! This coverage is widely used because it is generally much less expensive than individual permanent life coverage on either spouse.

Variable Universal Life

A form of whole life which combines some features of universal life, such as premium and death benefit flexibility, with some features of variable life, such as more investment choices. Variable universal life adds to the flexibility of universal life by allowing the holder to choose among investment vehicles for the savings portion of the account. The differences between this arrangement and investing individually are the tax advantages and fees that accompany the insurance policy.

Whole Life

Insurance which provides coverage for an individual’s whole life, rather than a specified term. A savings component, called cash value or loan value, builds over time and can be used for wealth accumulation. Whole life is the most basic form of cash value insurance. The insurance company essentially makes all of the decisions regarding the policy. Regular premiums both pay insurance costs and cause equity to accrue in a savings account. A fixed death benefit is paid to the beneficiary along with the balance of the savings account. Premiums are fixed throughout the life of the policy even though the breakdown between insurance and savings swings toward the insurance over time. Management fees also eat up a portion of the premiums. The insurance company will invest money primarily in fixed-income securities, meaning that the savings investment will be subject to interest rate and inflation risk.

 

All About Packages of Life Insurance

Life Insurance (though it shouldn’t be) is to this day a very controversial issue. There seems to be a lot of different types of life insurance out there, but there are really only two kinds. They are Term Insurance and Whole Life (Cash Value) Insurance. Term Insurance is pure insurance. It protects you over a certain period of time. Whole Life Insurance is insurance plus a side account known as cash value. Generally speaking, consumer reports recommend term insurance as the most economical choice and they have for some time. But still, whole life insurance is the most prevalent in today’s society. Which one should we buy?

Let’s talk about the purpose of life insurance. Once we get the proper purpose of insurance down to a science, then everything else will fall into place. The purpose of life insurance is the same purpose as any other type of insurance. It is to “insure against loss of”. Car insurance is to insure your car or someone else’s car in case of an accident. So in other words, since you probably couldn’t pay for the damage yourself, insurance is in place. Home owners insurance is to insure against loss of your home or items in it. So since you probably couldn’t pay for a new house, you buy an insurance policy to cover it.

Life insurance is the same way. It is to insure against loss of your life. If you had a family, it would be impossible to support them after you died, so you buy life insurance so that if something were to happen to you, your family could replace your income. Life insurance is not to make you or your descendants rich or give them a reason to kill you. Life insurance is not to help you retire (or else it would be called retirement insurance)! Life insurance is to replace your income if you die. But the wicked ones have made us believe otherwise, so that they can overcharge us and sell all kinds of other things to us to get paid.

How Does Life Insurance Work?

Rather than make this complicated, I will give a very simple explanation on how and what goes down in an insurance policy. As a matter of fact, it will be over simplified because we would otherwise be here all day. This is an example. Let’s say that you are 31 years old. A typical term insurance policy for 20 years for $200,000 would be about $20/month. Now… if you wanted to buy a whole life insurance policy for $200,000 you might pay $100/month for it. So instead of charging you $20 (which is the true cost) you will be overcharged by $80, which will then be put into a savings account.

Now, this $80 will continue to accumulate in a separate account for you. Typically speaking, if you want to get some of YOUR money out of the account, you can then BORROW IT from the account and pay it back with interest. Now… let’s say you were to take $80 dollars a month and give it to your bank. If you went to withdraw the money from your bank account and they told you that you had to BORROW your own money from them and pay it back with interest, you would probably go clean upside somebody’s head. But somehow, when it comes to insurance, this is okay

This stems from the fact that most people don’t realize that they are borrowing their own money. The “agent” (of the insurance Matrix) rarely will explain it that way. You see, one of the ways that companies get rich, is by getting people to pay them, and then turn around and borrow their own money back and pay more interest! Home equity loans are another example of this, but that is a whole different sermon.

Deal or No Deal

Let us stick with the previous illustration. Let us say the one thousand 31 year olds ( all in good health) bought the aforementioned term policy (20 years, $200,000 dollars at $20/month). If these people were paying $20/month, that is $240 per year. If you take that and multiply it over the 20 year term then you will have $4800. So each individual will pay $4800 over the life of the term. Since one thousand individuals bought the policy, they will end up paying 4.8 million in premiums to the company. The insurance company has already calculated that around 20 people with good health (between the ages of 31 and 51) will die. So if 20 people pass away, then the company will have to pay out 20 x $200,000 or $4,000,000. So, if the company pays out $4,000,000 and takes in $4,800,000 it will then make a $800,000 profit.

This is of course OVER simplifying because a lot of people will cancel the policy (which will also bring down the number of death claims paid), and some of those premiums can be used to accumulate interest, but you can get a general idea of how things work.

On the other hand, let’s look at whole life insurance. Let us say the one thousand 31 year olds (all in good health) bought the aforementioned whole life policy ($200,000 dollars at $100/month). These people are paying $100/month. That is $1200 per year. If the average person’s lifespan (in good health people) goes to 75, then on average, the people will pay 44 years worth of premiums. If you take that and multiply it by $1200 you will get $52,800. So each individual will pay $52,800 over the life of the policy. Since one thousand individuals bought the policy, they will end up paying 52.8 million in premiums to the company. If you buy a whole life policy, the insurance company has already calculated the probability that you will die. What is that probability? 100%, because it is a whole life (till death do us part) insurance policy! This means that if everyone kept their policies, the insurance company would have to pay out 1000 x $200,000 = $2,000,000,000) That’s right, two billion dollars!

Ladies and gentleman, how can a company afford to pay out two billion dollars knowing that it will only take in 52.8 million? Now just like in the previous example, this is an oversimplification as policies will lapse. As a matter of fact, MOST whole life policies do lapse because people can’t afford them, I hope you see my point. Let’s take the individual. A 31 year old male bought a policy in which he is suppose to pay in $52,800 and get $200,000 back? There no such thing as a free lunch. The company somehow has to weasel $147,200 out of him, JUST TO BREAK EVEN on this policy! Not to mention, pay the agents (who get paid much higher commissions on whole life policies), underwriters, insurance fees, advertising fees, 30 story buildings… etc, etc.

This doesn’t even take into account these variable life and universal life policies that claim to be so good for your retirement. So you are going to pay $52,800 into a policy and this policy will make you rich, AND pay you the $200,000 death benefit, AND pay the agents, staff and fees? This has to be a rip off.

Well, how could they rip you off? Maybe for the first five years of the policy, no cash value will accumulate (you may want to check your policy). Maybe it’s misrepresenting the value of the return (this is easy if the customer is not knowledgeable on exactly how investments work). Also, if you read my article on the Rule of 72 you can clearly see that giving your money to someone else to invest can lose you millions! You see, you may pay in $52,800 but that doesn’t take into account how much money you LOSE by not investing it yourself! This is regardless of how well your agent may tell you the company will invest your money! Plain and simple, they have to get over on you somehow or they would go out of business!

How long do you need life insurance?

Let me explain what is called The Theory of Decreasing Responsibility, and maybe we can answer this question. Let’s say that you and your spouse just got married and have a child. Like most people, when they are young they are also crazy, so they go out and buy a new car and a new house. Now, here you are with a young child and debt up to the neck! In this particular case, if one of you were to pass away, the loss of income would be devastating to the other spouse and the child. This is the case for life insurance. BUT, this is what happens. You and your spouse begin to pay off that debt. Your child gets older and less dependent on you. You start to build up your assets. Keep in mind that I am talking about REAL assets, not fake or phantom assets like equity in a home (which is just a fixed interest rate credit card)

In the end, the situation is like this. The child is out of the house and no longer dependent on you. You don’t have any debt. You have enough money to live off of, and pay for your funeral (which now costs thousands of dollars because the DEATH INDUSTRY has found new ways to make money by having people spend more honor and money on a person after they die then they did while that person was alive). So… at this point, what do you need insurance for? Exactly… absolutely nothing! So why would you buy Whole Life (a.k.a. DEATH) Insurance? The idea of a 179 year old person with grown children who don’t depend on him/her still paying insurance premiums is asinine to say the least.

As a matter of fact, the need for life insurance could be greatly decreased and quickly eliminated, if one would learn not to accumulate liabilities, and quickly accumulate wealth first. But I realize that this is almost impossible for most people in this materialistic, Middle Classed matrixed society. But anyway, let’s take it a step further.

Confused Insurance Policies

This next statement is very obvious, but very profound. Living and dying are exact opposites of each other. Why do I say this? The purpose of investing is to accumulate enough money in case you live to retire. The purpose of buying insurance is to protect your family and loved ones if you die before you can retire. These are two diametrically opposed actions! So, if an “agent” waltzes into your home selling you a whole life insurance policy and telling you that it can insure your life AND it can help you retire, your Red Pill Question should be this:

“If this plan will help me retire securely, why will I always need insurance? And on the other hand, if I will be broke enough later on in life that I will still need insurance, then how is this a good retirement plan?”

Now if you ask an insurance agent those questions, she/he may become confused. This of course comes from selling confused policies that do two opposites at once.

Norman Dacey said it best in the book “What’s Wrong With Your Life Insurance”

“No one could ever quarrel with the idea of providing protection for one’s family while at the same time accumulating a fund for some such purpose as education or retirement. But if you try to do both of these jobs through the medium of one insurance policy, it is inevitable that both jobs will be done badly.”

So you see, even though there are a lot of new variations of whole life, like variable life and universal life, with various bells and whistles (claiming to be better than the original, typical whole life policies), the Red Pill Question must always be asked! If you are going to buy insurance, then buy insurance! If you are going to invest, then invest. It’s that simple. Don’t let an insurance agent trick you into buying a whole life policy based on the assumption that you are too incompetent and undisciplined to invest your own money.

If you are afraid to invest your money because you don’t know how, then educate yourself! It may take some time, but it is better than giving your money to somebody else so they can invest it for you (and get rich with it). How can a company be profitable when it takes the money from it’s customers, invests it, and turns around and gives it’s customers all of the profits?

And don’t fall for the old “What if the term runs out and you can’t get re-insured trick”. Listen, there are a lot of term policies out there that are guaranteed renewable until an old age (75-100). Yes, the price is a lot higher, but you must realize that if you buy a whole life policy, you will have been duped out of even more money by the time you get to that point (if that even happens). This is also yet another reason to be smart with your money. Don’t buy confused policies.

How much should you buy?

I normally recommend 8-10 times your yearly income as a good face amount for your insurance. Why so high? Here is the reason. Let’s say that you make $50,000 per year. If you were to pass away, your family could take $500,000 (10 times $50,000) and put it into a fund that pays 10 percent (which will give them $40,000 per year) and not touch the principle. So what you have done is replaced your income.

This is another reason why Whole Life insurance is bad. It is impossible to afford the amount of insurance you need trying to buy super high priced policies. Term insurance is much cheaper. To add to this, don’t let high face values scare you. If you have a lot of liabilities and you are worried about your family, it is much better to be underinsured than to have no insurance at all. Buy what you can manage. Don’t get sold what you can’t manage.

Looking to invest in an IRA? What is the Best IRA to invest in?

 

Life Insurance Policy

The primary purpose for getting life insurance will always be to protect the people you care about in case something were to happen to you. How much capital would you need in order to pay off debts, support your loved ones, or to take care of all your affairs?

After you understand what priorities you would like to protect through life insurance it is fairly easy to determine the correct amount of coverage.

What Type Of Life Insurance

The next question is what type of coverage will best serve your needs. In order to get the right amount of coverage you also have to make sure that the premiums fit comfortably into your budget.

Term Insurance Benefits

Term insurance is less expensive than whole life insurance, because you are renting the insurance. Your coverage is considered pure insurance in this case, because it doesn’t develop cash value or participate in company dividends.

Instead it allows you to get the right amount of protection for the least expensive premiums available. Term insurance has also developed over the years to offer more comprehensive options. You can get a return-of-premiums policy where you pay more during the life of the policy, but the insurance company refunds all of your premiums at the end of the fixed term.

There are also term policies that allow you to lock in your age and health for the remainder of your life, so that you can have the coverage and premiums locked in for the rest of your life. This is a great and inexpensive way to obtain permanent insurance.

How Long Should You Lock In Your Premiums

The longer you can lock in your premiums the more advantageous it will be in the long run. The insurance company takes into consideration the mortality risk during the level period of the term. If you are 35 and you get a level 20-term policy then the rates will be fixed until you are 55. And because you are locking in the premiums at a younger age, the average risk and rates will be less than if you were to lock in your premiums at 55.

Most people have an insurance need that will last throughout the rest of their lives. If you can permanently lock in a portion of your insurance at a younger age this can save you substantially on premiums. It happens quite often where people will have to apply for new coverage after the fixed rates on their current policy have expired, and because they are now older and have to pay much more in premiums.

Your health is also locked in when you first take the policy out. Many people looking for insurance in their fifties or sixties are dealing with some type of medical condition that makes the cost of life insurance double or triple in cost. The same logic that applies to locking in your age is also good to keep in mind when locking in your health. We don’t know what is going to happen to us, and if we have our insurance locked in then our insurability and premiums will be unaffected by a medical event.

Level Term Insurance

I always recommend getting a level-term policy as opposed to one that will start off lower and increase premiums each and every year. The level term policies allow you to lock in your age and health for the remainder of the term, whereas the increasing-premium policies become more expensive every year based on your new age.

Because term insurance is a less expensive way to get the right amount of protection, I believe that it is the right choice for a large majority of people looking at life insurance.

Cash Value Life Insurance: When To Consider It

First A Word Of Caution About How The Life Insurance Industry Operates

An agent who pushes one company above the others is doing his or her clients a disservice. Every company has its positives and negatives and each company has focused on certain demographics to try to create a competitive edge. There are 17 life insurance companies in the fortune 500 alone. These companies have very similar investment portfolios and conduct business in ways that are more common than not. Eight of these companies are mutual, nine are stock companies, and they all operate in order to make a profit. The most important thing that anybody can do is to have an agent who can help them shop the market for the company that is going to fit their needs best. Somebody that is a smoker with high blood pressure is going to have better options outside of the companies that target nonsmokers without health conditions. Finding the least expensive company on the market for your age and health can save you thousands of dollars.

I used to work for an insurance agency where we only sold a single triple-A-rated-insurance company. When I worked for this agency, my fellow agents and I were especially inculcated with the benefits of this company’s whole life insurance. This situation is not unique.

Captive agencies have managers that groom agents to push one company because they get paid commissions when their agents sell these products. Please don’t assume that life insurance agents are experts on the benefits of different companies and types of insurance plans, because many of them are unaware of the benefits beyond their own company. Instead of consulting their clients and shopping the market they push a single product that doesn’t always match up well. There are far too many people being given advice from agents to consider whole life insurance, because they are trained to present the same products to every client.

When You Are Considering An Insurance Company It Will Always Be Advantageous For Some People And Ill Advised For Others

If you sit down with an agent who goes over a list of benefits about a single insurance company, keep in mind that most benefits are really trade-offs. For instance, if a company is a triple-A rated insurance company than they are probably also more conservative with whom they insure. A triple-A rating is great, but it is really only necessary if you plan on participating in the companies dividends, or in other words buying their whole life insurance. There is no need to pay extra money for the privilege of having a triple-A rated company as many agents insist. A.M. Best considers a company with an A-rating to be in excellent financial health and there are many A-rated companies with less expensive insurance offers if you are not planning on participating in whole life.

When Whole Life Insurance is a Good Idea

For some people, whole life insurance can be a great complement to their financial security. I have sold whole life insurance based on the following benefits.
1) It has a guaranteed return that will consistently build up the cash value in the policy.
2) It gives policyholders permanent insurance so that they are insured throughout their lifetime.
3) It allows them to stop paying premiums after a certain number of years, because the dividends from the company will be enough to keep the policy in force.
4) It allows policyholders to take cash from the policy in the form of a loan, so that you have another option if liquidity is needed.
5) The growth of the policy is tax deferred and tax-free as long as long as the policy is kept in force.

The problem can be that many of these benefits point to life insurance as an asset or investment. Life insurance should always be considered for the death benefit first and foremost. If you have already maxed out both your Roth Ira and 401(k), have at least three months of expenses in accessible savings, and are looking for something else to build up savings then whole-life insurance can be a good option. The point is that whole life insurance is a good choice when you have the ability to max out your qualified retirement funds and are looking to complement your savings with a conservative tie in to your life insurance.

Whole life can be a mistake for a couple of reasons

There are risks when putting your money into whole life insurance. The risks aren’t always clearly explained, because the agents focus on the guaranteed dividends that will grow the cash value every year. However, one significant risk is buying into whole-life insurance, paying the premiums for a number of years, and then not being able to keep up with the premiums down the road. Life insurance companies bank on this happening to a certain percentage of policyholders.
If this occurs you are in danger of losing thousands of dollars in paid premiums without the benefit of accumulating any cash value. When a policy lapses or you can’t keep up with whole life premiums then the insurance company will retain your premiums without you having any cash value built up or any insurance in force.
These whole life polices are structured to have large front end expenses and it will take at least a couple of years before your premiums start to build up cash value. It takes about ten years before the amount of premiums you put into the policy will equal the cash value in the policy.

How Cash Value In Whole Life Insurance Works

The other risk with whole life insurance is not understanding how the cash value in the policy works and taking out too much of it. The cash value in the policy is liquid, but the insurance company will let you take out about 97% of it in order to protect against the policy lapsing. Any cash that is taken out of the policy is loaned from the policy at interest.

Lets assume that you are in the first 20 years of your whole life policy and are taking a loan from the cash value in the policy. The loaned interest rate is 8.0 %, the non-loaned dividend interest rate is 6.85%, and the loaned-dividend interest is rate is 7.9 %. Notice that the insurance company steps up the interest rate on the loaned amount or the amount borrowed from your cash value. This mitigates the cost of the loan, but the loan still creates an ongoing obligation to pay interest. For instance the cost of borrowing here would be 6.95 %.

(The loaned interest rate (8.0 %) + (the non-loaned dividend interest rate (6.85%) – the loaned-dividend interest rate (7.9%)) = cost of borrowing (6.95%).

The cash value in the policy is really a double-edged sword, because it leads to a significant risk that you will not be able to keep up with the premiums. It is practically intended for people who can repay the loan quickly so that the policy continues to develop dividends instead of an obligation to pay interest. It is great for people who aren’t ever tempted to borrow from the policy, because the dividends will compound and eventually be able to cover the cost of annual premiums. When this occurs the risk of lapsing will be negligible. However, this takes quite some time to achieve and it truly depends on how disciplined you can afford to be with the additional cost of these premiums. If you would rather have control of your money up front there is an argument that you can buy term and invest the rest instead of leveraging the insurance companies general fund.

Your Personality Profile And Budget Must Be In Line

I recommend taking a look at both your budget and how much control you want over your money for at least the next ten years if you are considering whole life. Because term insurance can now permanently lock in your age and health in the same manner as whole life insurance, the biggest question is whether or not you want control over investing the difference in premiums. Many people prefer whole life insurance because they don’t have to think about investing the difference; the insurance company does it for them. They can also grow their death benefit by the amount of growth in cash value and act as their own creditor if they ever want to borrow cash from the policy.

A Couple Other Points About Whole Life Insurance

The cash value component in a whole life insurance policy needs to be addressed. The first is that cash value is based on compounding dividends. So the longer you keep the paying premiums the more advantageous it is. The second is that if you go with a reliable insurance company they will usually pay non-guaranteed dividends that are based on the results of an insurance companies investments. This is when rating is important to consider, because you are now participating in these dividends. Also if you have allowed the cash value to grow and take out modest loans from the policy later in life, you will most likely have enough in dividends to keep pace beyond the ongoing obligation of interest. However if you do surrender the policy the gains will be taxed as capital gains and you will have to pay a surrender charge as well. If the policy is in force and you pass away while there are still outstanding loans, the death benefit will be paid out after it covers the cost of the loans that you have taken from the policy.

Term Insurance Vs. Whole Life

I believe the most important factor in all of this is the human element. If you are patient, conservative, and comfortably able to continue paying premiums without the temptation to borrow from the cash-value then you are a good candidate for whole life insurance. The majority of people have fluctuating budgets and circumstances where they are better off with something that locks in their age and health and gives them the opportunity to invest the difference elsewhere.