Simply put, life insurance is a way to provide financial protection for your loved ones in their most vulnerable moments. A life insurance policy ensures that if you die while your policy is active, your loved ones will receive a lump-sum payout, known as a death benefit. The death benefit can be used to cover things like mortgage or rent payments, education costs, funeral arrangements, and more.
In its simplest state, every life insurance policy is made up of these four components:
As long as the premiums are paid, this type of coverage is active for your whole life, guaranteeing the eventual payout of a death benefit. It can cost 5-10X more but if the premium is within budget, it can be a good option for anyone interested in insurance that accumulates cash value and doesn’t end.
Real-world example: Frank is 68 years old, and retired. He wants to make sure he doesn’t saddle his loved ones with expenses when he passes away. He’s looking for coverage that doesn’t expire, so he can guarantee the payout of a death benefit that will take care of his final expenses. A whole life policy makes the most sense for Frank because he will be covered for the duration of his life.
Term policies last for a specific amount of time (your term), and there is no cash value accumulation. The death benefit is only payable to the beneficiaries upon the death of the insured person during the term. Because it costs less and is more straightforward it's a good option for many people.
Real-world example: Sarah is a married, 35-year-old mother of 2 young children. She’s the primary breadwinner for her home, and she wants to ensure that her children will still be able to attend college in the event of her untimely death. For Sarah, a term policy makes the most sense. By structuring the term length around the time her children expect to make it through school, she can protect her children's educational future.
Group life insurance typically comes in the form of an employer-sponsored life insurance policy. You may already have some coverage provided to you as an employee benefit. However, this type of policy might only provide a fraction of the coverage you need. For this reason, many people buy an individual term life insurance policy to supplement the coverage they receive through work.
It ultimately depends on the personal and financial circumstances of each individual. In general, you can find your ideal coverage amount by calculating your long-term financial obligations and then subtracting your assets. The remainder is the gap that life insurance needs to fill. It can be difficult to know what to include in your calculations, so we created a life insurance calculator to help you determine your coverage needs.
It’s different for everyone and varies based on your unique situation. The biggest factors that can affect your premium include: