Life insurance is one of the most important purchases you’ll ever make. Don’t go in to the purchasing process unarmed and unprepared. Before you commit to any one policy, here are the ten essential questions you need to ask your life insurance agent:
1. What type of policy makes sense for my lifestyle?
With so many types of life insurance policies available today, staying informed on all of them is nearly impossible without the proper guidance. Term, permanent, whole, universal, variable, single, joint, first-to-die-how do you know which policy is right for you?
Numerous aspects come into play when looking for your ideal policy, including age, marital status, children or dependents, plans for children, health, and travel tendencies. These lifestyle factors and more should be determined when purchasing a life insurance policy. Find an insurance agent who is willing to commit time to learning exactly who you are and what you need from a policy.
2. How does the policy’s premium work?
The money paid to purchase life insurance is called premium. Not all policies have the same method for paying premium: some require a lump sum, while others are paid in installments. These installments can be annual, semi-annual, monthly, or even weekly. Decide which payment method is best for your current financial situation, and ask your agent which method he or she recommends.
3. Does this policy provide living benefits?
Some policies, such as permanent life, allow you to access the cash value of the policy in time of need. Though the main purpose of life insurance is to provide for your family after you’re gone, it can also be a way to provide for your family’s needs while you are living. Living benefits may be used to:
- Pay for college intuition
- Add to retirement or disability income
- Start/assist a business
- Donate to charity
- Cover emergencies
Ask whether or not using your policy’s cash value now would decrease death benefits your family will receive later.
4. Are there any investment options with this policy?
When a policy has cash value, it’s possible to invest portions of that money in order to facilitate growth. One of the ways to invest your policy’s cash value is in the market. Think of policies that offer this option as a blend of traditional life insurance and mutual fund like subaccounts.
Another benefit to having a policy with cash value is that the interest your policy collects is non-taxable. Also, once your policy gains enough interest, this money can be put towards paying your premium. Keep in mind that some policies are capable of gaining more interest than others. If you’re interested in investing, talk to your agent about the capabilities of the policies they offer.
5. What happens when the policy expires?
If you’re looking at term life insurance, you are buying insurance for only a set amount of time. Essentially, it means this particular policy has an expiration date.
It’s important to understand exactly what occurs when your policy expires. If you are still living at that time, do you receive any value or benefits? Some policies offer zero pay-off if the policy holder lives past the policy expiration date. Before purchasing term life insurance, take time to understand how the policy works in such a scenario.
6. Is there a grace period for missed payments?
If you run into financial difficulties somewhere down the road, paying your premium on time may not always be a possibility. In such an event, it’s comforting to know that your insurance provider is willing to give you some time to pull funds together instead of immediately penalizing you. Most life insurance policies offer a standard 30-day grace period.
7. Does the policy’s death benefit adjust for inflation?
Chances are, just because your policy’s death benefit amount sounds like a lot of money today, does not mean it will be a lot of money 50 years from now. Some policies are adjustable, meaning the benefits increase along with the inflation rate, while others do not. There are other ways to compensate for inflation, however, so don’t immediately rule out a policy based on that factor alone. Remember; just ask your agent what options are available to you.
8. What is excluded in this policy?
One of the easiest ways to fully understand a policy is to find out what it is not. In fact, ask your insurance agent to explain exactly what the policy cannot do for you. If the exclusions are not applicable to you, great! If what they tell you is something you need out of your policy, however, ask if there is a similar policy that offers what this one does not.
9. Can this policy be converted to another policy?
Perhaps term life insurance is all you can currently afford, yet you know you want to purchase permanent life insurance later. If so, you may want to invest in a smaller life insurance plan that has the ability to transition to a larger plan without losing current benefits in the process. The Insurance industry calls these policies “convertible” because they have the ability to be “converted” to another policy.
10. What if my health changes or I become disabled?
To set an appropriate premium, insurance providers find out all they can about you, including your health history.
The younger and healthier you are, the less expensive your life insurance should be. While you may be fit now, there’s no guarantee your health will never change. It is good to be ready for any possibility, no matter how uncomfortable it may be to think about.
If something should affect your health in the future, would your policy adjust to meet your situation? Would it be able to provide you the benefits you need? How much would your premium increase? These questions are absolutely essential to ask before purchasing life insurance.
Educating yourself on life insurance could be the difference between finding the right policy and getting stuck with one that doesn’t quite fit your needs or life circumstance. Before making any big decisions, ask your agent or provider these ten questions. If they are unwilling or unable to give satisfactory answers, it may be a sign to seek other options.
A good life insurance agent will give thorough replies-and maybe even add some extra wisdom of their own! The more you know the better prepared you’ll be; don’t let anything keep you from securing your family’s future.