Life Insurance

How Much Life Insurance Do I Need?

Ethos Life
Grandfather father and son on couch
Do you have a family or do you provide financial support for someone? If so, you likely need life insurance. But while determining your need for life insurance is easy, figuring out how much life insurance you need can be more difficult. Here’s a simple guide to help you determine how much life insurance is right for your unique needs.

An affordable life insurance policy can give your family peace of mind

How to Calculate Your Coverage Amount

A few of the primary reasons you may be interested in purchasing life insurance are to cover your lost income, outstanding debts, and burial costs. If you're ready to figure out how much coverage may be right for you, you can use Ethos’ life insurance calculator to help you estimate your needs.

Still deciding what life insurance coverage amount might be right for you? Consider the following:

1. Future Earnings

Replacement income can be essential for your dependents if you suddenly pass away while your coverage is in force. A rough estimate for the coverage you'll need is the amount of income you would have earned to support your dependents during your income-earning years. Experts recommend that you have insurance to cover at least ten years of your annual income.

When considering the needs of your dependents, you may decide to apply for coverage that will be in force until your kids are out of the house. You may also opt for a term policy that lasts until your mortgage has been paid off, or until your retirement goals have been reached. Whatever your family’s needs are, it’s wise to plan for insurance coverage during your income-earning years to protect your future earnings.

2. Debt

Debts held jointly, or with a cosigner, becomes the sole responsibility of the living party—regardless of their ability to pay. For that reason, it’s important to ensure that your life insurance policy can pay off any outstanding debts. When planning the amount of your life insurance policy, be sure to include your mortgage, credit card balances, car loans, personal loans, student loans, and any other bills you may have. The key here is to be transparent about your personal and jointly-held obligations, well before the unexpected happens.

Passing away without a plan for your financial obligations can be devastating. Your heirs may be responsible for your debts or may have to face creditors and collectors to cover your unpaid financial obligations.

3. Funeral And Burial Costs

Funerals don’t come cheap these days, with the median cost in 2019 checking in at somewhere between $7,500 and $9,000. This amount only covers basic burial expenses, such as the funeral home’s services, the cemetery, and the grave marker or headstone. If your family doesn’t have several thousand dollars saved to spend on a funeral, you may want to increase the amount of your life insurance coverage to cover these expenses.

4. Stay-At-Home Parents

Are you a stay-at-home parent? Would your surviving spouse need to hire a nanny or babysitter to watch over your children while they work? Would they need a housekeeper and other maintenance workers to keep your home in order? These are all considerations that need to be evaluated when it comes to calculating life insurance coverage. While you can’t predict the timing of your death, it is possible to help reduce stress during an already difficult time by having life insurance coverage in place.

5. Life Insurance For Children

You might be wondering if you should also purchase policies for your children. In general, purchasing life insurance policies for healthy kids is inexpensive. Since children don’t typically contribute to the income of a household, there may not be a need to purchase life insurance for any amount above their funeral and burial costs.

Only parents with experience can fully understand the strain the loss of a child can place on the surviving family. In these unfortunate situations, life insurance can provide additional financial support while the family grieves and learns to cope with their loss.

6. Increasing The Amount Of Your Life Insurance Coverage

As your family’s goals and your financial situation changes, you may find yourself considering increasing the amount of your life insurance. For example, you may have recently gotten married, purchased a new home, set up a college fund for your child, or even started a new business. As your life progresses, you’ll likely have more to protect, should you or your partner suddenly pass away.

If you decide to increase or add to your current amount of life insurance coverage, the insurance company may ask you for current information regarding your occupation and health condition using an application for an increase or an additional policy. This process will help the insurance company determine the price and the amount of coverage that you qualify for at the time you apply.

7. How To Get A Quote

Now that you’ve learned how to determine the amount of life insurance you may need, you might be interested in learning how to get a quote that fits your family’s needs and budget. The coverage amount you apply for will be based on your calculations regarding the amount of income that would need to be replaced, your current or planned outstanding debts, and how much money your loved ones would likely need available to them in the event of your death. You may also want to include costs to cover your funeral and burial arrangements as a courtesy to your family and friends. The amount of life insurance you purchase is a very personal decision, but taking the time to consider it carefully can be an act of selflessness and kindness.

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Please note that all prices quoted are subject to change, including due to underwriting.