Life insurance quotes have become very popular in recent times. The life insurance agents have been using these quotes to get the policies from the customers. The agents use them to tell the customers about the various aspects of the life insurance policy that they are going to purchase. For example, the life insurance agents […]
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.
I want to start off this 2010 with an article regarding Life Insurance. Many people find this topic morbid but believe me when I say this contract is as important as a Will and should be taken just as seriously as health insurance. Due to the length in details of this article I have provided chapters for easy reading. I hope this will educate you on Life Insurance and the importance of its necessity. (Note: For better understanding “You” is the policy owner and the insured)
2=When/If you have Life Insurance already
3= Difference between a Insurance Agent and Broker
4= Types of Policies
5= What are Riders and popular types of Riders
6= The medical exam
1) About general Life Insurance:
This is a contract between you and an insurance company to pay a certain amount (the premium) to a company in exchange for a benefit (called the Death Benefit, face amount, or policy amount) to the beneficiary (the person you want to get paid in the time of your death). This can range based on the type of policy (which will be discussed momentarily), your health, your hobbies, the Insurance company, how much you can afford in premiums, AND the amount of the benefit. It sounds overwhelming but it is not if you have the right agent or broker.
Now many people can say that Life Insurance is like gambling. You are betting that you will die in a specific time and the insurance company bets you won’t. If the insurer wins, they keep the premiums, if you win…well you die and the death benefit goes to the beneficiary. This is a very morbid way of looking at it and if that is the case you can say the same for health insurance, auto insurance, and rental insurance. The truth is, you need life insurance in order to ease the burden of your death. Example 1: A married couple, both professionals that earn very well for a living have a child and like any other family has monthly expenses and 1 of the couple has a death. The odds of the spouse going back to work the next day is very slim. Odds are in fact that your ability to function in your career will lower which RISK the cause of not being able to pay expenses or having to use one’s savings or investments in order to pay for these expenses NOT INCLUDING the death tax and funeral expenses. This can be financially devastating. Example 2: lower middle income family, a death occurs to 1 of the income earners. How will the family be capable of maintaining their current financial lifestyle?
Life insurance is about the ability of lowering the risk of financial burden. This can be in the form of simple cash or taxes via estate planning.
The Insured: The person that is covered by the insurance company (He/She does NOT have to the policy owner)
The (policy) Owner: The one that pays the premium, controls the beneficiary, and basically owns the contract (Does NOT have to the insured…hope you understand it can be either/or).
Face Amount: Also known as the death benefit. The amount to be paid to the beneficiary.
The Beneficiary: Is the person/persons/organization who will receive the face amount (death benefit)
2) When/If you have Life Insurance:
First, you should review your beneficiaries once a year and your policy approximately once every 2-3 years. This is free! You need to make sure the beneficiaries are the people/person you want to get paid! Divorce, death, a disagreement, or anything of the sort can make you change your mind about a particular person to receive the benefit so make sure you have the right people, estate/trust, AND/OR organization (non-profit preferably) to receive the benefit. Furthermore, you need to review every 2-3 years because many companies can offer a lower premium OR raise the benefit if you renew your policy or if you find a competitor that sees you have been paying the premiums may compete for your business. Either way, this is something you should consider to either save money or raise the policy amount! This is a win-win for you so there should be no reason not to do this.
3) Life Insurance Agent or Broker, what is the difference?:
The major difference is an Agent is usually an independent sales man that usually works with different insurance companies in order to give the client the best possible policy while the Broker works for a particular company. My personal advice: always choose an Agent. Not because I am one myself BUT because an agent can look out for your benefit by providing different quotes, types, riders that are available (explained later), AND pros/cons regarding each insurance company. If you don’t like a particular insurance company, tell the agent and he should move on to the next carrier (if he persist for some odd reason, fire him). Buyers BEWARE: The Agent should get paid by the carrier that is chosen, not by you specifically. If an Agent asks for money upfront for anything, RUN! There are also Insurance consultants that you pay but to keep things simple, see an Agent. Consultants and Agents are also great in reviewing current policies in order to lower premiums or increase benefits.
4) Types of Policies:
There are 2 main categories: Term and Permanent Insurance. Within each of the 2 categories have sub-categories. I will explain them at a glance in order for you to make the best possible choice for you and your loved ones. Remember, you can have estate/trust or a organization as the beneficiary. (Note: There are even more sub-sub-categories within these sub-categories but the difference are so small and self explanatory that I have not included it in this article. Once you speak to an agent you will have enough knowledge by this article that you will know what questions to ask and know if you agent is right for you).
Term Insurance: A temporary policy in which the beneficiary is paid only upon death of the insured (you) within a specific time period (hence the word “Term”). Term Insurance is usually less expensive with a smaller death benefit. Some do not require medical exams BUT expect to pay a higher premium since the risk of the insurance company is unknown. Also, term insurance normally does not accumulate cash value (explained in permanent insurance) but can be purchased on top of your permanent policy (for those that may have coverage already):
Convertible Term: Ability to convert policy to permanent. There are some REALLY GOOD policies that require no medical exam, driver history, or hazardous avocations at a certain point in order to convert to permanent coverage guaranteed with all the benefits that permanent insurance policies has to offer.
Renewable Term: Able to renew a term policy without evidence of insurability.
Level Term: Fixed premiums over a certain time period than increases (great for those that are young adults and expect within 10 years to have a increase in pay).
Increasing/Decreasing Term: Coverage increases or decreases throughout the term while the premium remains the same.
Group Term: Usually used for employers or associations. This covers several people in order to reduce premiums. (Great for small business owners)
Permanent Insurance: Just as the name states, this provides coverage throughout the lifetime of the insured. This also builds cash value which is fantastic for tax purposes because if you loan out money to yourself using this cash value there are no tax implications. Few policies may have in general withdrawal tax-free. However in most cases, If you withdraw the cash value you pay the only the taxes on the premiums (the amount that grew) which is fantastic. Just make sure your agent knows not to have the cash value grow larger than the death benefit otherwise it is subject to 10% taxes! Surrender charges may also apply when you withdrawal so PLEASE consult with an agent who can assist you with these details. You should consider Permanent Insurance if you have a family and don’t mind an increase in premiums (amount you pay) by a few dollars compared to term.
Traditional Whole Life: Pay a fixed amount of premium in order to be covered for the insured’s entire life which includes accumulating cash value.
Single-Premium Whole Life Insurance: Whole life insurance for 1 lump sum premium (usually that 1 lump sum is very large in order to get a great death benefit).
Participating Whole Life Insurance: Just like Traditional Whole life except it pays you dividends which can be used as cash OR pay your dividends for you! There is no guarantee that you will be paid the dividends, this is based on performance within the insurance company.
Limited Payment Whole Life Insurance: Limited payments for whole life but requires a higher premium since you are in fact paying for a shorter amount of time. This can be based on payment amounts (10, 20, 30, etc payments) or a particular age (whole life is paid up at age 65, 75, 85, etc).
Universal Life Insurance: Flexible premiums with flexible face amounts (the death benefit) with a unbundled pricing factors. Ex: If you pay X amount, you are covered for X amount.
Indexed Universal Life: Flexible premium/benefit with the cash value is tied to the performance of a particular financial index. Most insurance companies crediting rate (% of growth) will not go below zero.
Variable Life Insurance: Death Benefit and cash value fluctuates according to the investment performance from a separate account of investment options. Usually insurance policies guarantee the benefit will not fall below a specified minimum.
Variable Universal Life Insurance (also called Flexible Premium Variable Life Insurance & Universal Life II/2): A combination of Variable and Universal which has premium/death benefit flexibility as well as investment flexibility.
Last Survivor Universal Life Insurance (also called Survivorship or “Second to die” Insurance): Covers 2 people and the death benefit is only paid when both insurers have died. This is FANTASTIC and somewhat a necessity for families that pay estate taxes (usually High-Net-worth individuals).
5) Life Insurance Riders, what is it and why is it very important:
Rider is the name of a benefit that is added to your policy. This provides special additions to the policy which can be blended and put together. There are SO MANY types of riders that I would have to write a different article regarding Riders (and insurance companies add new types of riders often) but I want to at least name the most popular (and in my opinion, the most important) that you should highly consider when choosing a policy. Riders add to the cost of the premium but don’t take riders lightly; it can be a life saver!
Accidental Death Benefit Rider (AD&D): Additional death benefit will be paid to the beneficiary if you die from a result of an accident (ie: Car accidents, a fall down the stairs). This is especially important if the insurer travels often, relatively young, and has a family. Please note: You can buy AD&D Insurance separately.
Accidental Death & Dismemberment Rider: Same as above BUT if you lose 2 limbs or sight will pay the death benefit. Some policies may offer smaller amounts if losing 1 eye or 1 limb. This is great for those that work with their hands.
Disability Income Rider: You will receive a monthly income if you are totally and permanently disabled. You are guaranteed a specific level of income. Pay attention to this detail, depending on the policy it will either pay you depending on how long the disability lasts OR time frame of the rider.
Guaranteed Insurability Rider: Ability to purchase additional coverage in intervals based on age or policy years without having to check insurance eligibility.
Level Term Rider: Gives you a fixed amount of term insurance added to your permanent policy. This rider can add 3-5 times the death benefit or your policy. Not a bad deal!
Waiver of Premium Rider: If you become disabled which results to the inability to work/earn income, the waiver will exempt you from paying the premiums while your policy is still in force! There is a huge gap between policies and insurance companies so the devils in the details with this rider.
Family Income Benefit Rider: In case of death of the insurer, this rider will provide income for a specific time period for your family.
Accelerated Death Benefit Rider: An insurer that is diagnosed with a terminal illness will receive 25-40% of the death benefit of the base policy (The decision is made between the insurer and the insurance company). This will lower the death benefit however depending on your finances or living lifestyle, this rider should not be taken lightly and should seriously be considered.
Long-Term Care Rider: If the insurer’s health compels to stay in a nursing home or receive care at home, this rider will provide monthly payments. Please Note: Long Term Care insurance can be bought separately for more benefit.
6) The Medical Exam:
This section is not to scary you away but to mentally (and possibly physically) prepare you for the medical exam so this way you know what to expect and can get the lowest possible premiums while receiving the highest possible death benefit. This really shouldn’t be a concern if you work out regularly and maintain a healthy eating habit (notice I said habit and not diet. Diets don’t work for long term).
The exam is mandatory for most insurance policies. Many term insurance do not require one but expect a low death benefit and/or higher premium. The idea of the exam is not just to see if you’re insurable but to also see how much they will charge the insurer/policy owner. The exam is done by a “paramedical” professional that are independent contractors hired by the insurance company who either come to your home or has an office where you/the insurer visit. They are licensed health professionals so they know what to look for! In very few cases the insurance company may ask for an “Attending Physician Statement (APS)” from your doctor. This must be provided by your doctor and NOT copies by you. TIP: The “paramedical” job is to give the insurance company a reason to increase your premiums so don’t give any details that are not asked.
First part (either called Part 1 or Part A) is complete by the Agent or by you. Part 2/B is the paramedical or physician portion. The best bet is to have your agent contact a paramedical that specializes in mobile exams for an easier exam for you. Paramedical will contact you to schedule an appointment. The exam is not optional so it’s not a matter of yes or no but when and where. This entire exam will cost you nothing except time so make the time, life insurance is important!
The paramedical/physician will take your medical history (questions), physical measurements of height and weight, blood pressure, pulse, blood, and urine. Additional tests will vary based on age and policy amount (yes, the higher the death benefit = the more tests that must be provided). Now if the policy is substantial, the insurance company may not send a paramedical but require an actual Medical Doctor to exam you. Of course, this is chosen by the insurance company so remember my tip earlier! This exam may even include a treadmill test and additional crazy exams in order to see if you qualify for that substantial amount and low premium. On the flip side, if you choose a low insurance policy, you will just have a paramedical doing simple tests that mentioned earlier with no additional exams.
What they are looking for: Paramedical/Physicians are looking for health conditions that may shorten your life. Remember, insurance companies are here to make a business and if you’re a liability then it might be a risk they do not want to take or raise the premium to make the risk tolerable. Blood and urine is taken to see the following:
– your antibodies or antigens to HIV
– Cholesterol and related lipids
– Antibodies to hepatitis
– Liver/kidney disorders
– Immunity disorders
– Prostate specific antigen (PSA)
– Drug tests such as cocaine
The Results: They are sent directly to the insurance company’s home office underwriters for review. Many times you can request (must be written request) to receive a copy of the results however many insurance companies will automatically do this. Many times they will find abnormalities but it’s usually not a concern and just speak to your medical professional for a follow up (remember: the insurance company will look at these exams with a “fine tooth cone” in order to see what the risk are). The underwriters will look at the exam results and the application (remember part 1/a? well, now they want to see if your also lying) and determine the premium amount. Smokers pay more; any nicotine in your system will consider you a smoker, even if it is just socially.
The premium is determined by a category that you fit in. This really depends on the insurance company on how they factor but the general rule is if you are a higher risk, you pay higher premium. If you are standard risk, you will pay a standard premium, and if you are a preferred risk, you will pay a low premium.
You can decline the policy after you receive the final quote after the exam but do remember this: All results will become part of the MIB group’s database (Medical information Bureau). This is a clearinghouse of medical information that insurance companies use to store information after you apply for Life/Health/Disability Income/Long Term care/Critical Illness insurance. So for seven years it will be on database. You can receive a free report annually (like a credit check) at their website which I included at the bottom of this article.
Now that you know practically everything there is to know about life insurance. I hope you realize how important it is. It may seem like a lot but the hardest part is simply choosing what type of policy is right for you. This can be done with the help of your Agent. In the end, everyone is different and everyone should analyze their own situation and need for the beneficiaries. If you have even the slightest concern for a loved one regarding what will happen if you was no longer with us then you should consider life insurance. There truly is a feeling a relief once you know you and your loved ones are covered regardless of how much you or that person makes. For many that feel that their loved ones don’t need the death benefit due to whatever the case may be (“they earn enough money to survive” is the biggest reason I hear against life insurance), this can be a simple last gesture of “I love you” or appreciation for them being part of your life.
Secret #1: Don’t spend too much time on a life insurance quote.
Do not be fooled by the low price quotes you get online – they don’t apply to you unless you are extremely healthy. Statistically only 10% of people who apply actually get the lowest priced policy. The premium you end up paying has nothing to do with the initial quote you get online or from an agent. It is amazing to me how often I see people getting duped by an agent who quotes company X at a lower price than another agent.
Life insurance policies are the same price no matter who you buy from! One agent or website quoting a lower premium means nothing. Prices for any given policy is based on your age and health. There are a few exceptions to this but that is beyond the breadth of this article.
Most life insurance companies have 10-20 different health/price ratings and no agent or website can assure you the quote they give you is accurate. You have to apply, do a health check, and then go through underwriting (meaning you complete a mini-exam with a nurse in your home and then the company checks you doctor records and reviews and ‘rates’ your health) to get the real price of the policy. Remember that a health rating also factors in your family history, driving record, and the type of occupation you have. Only use quotes to help narrow down your choices to the top companies. You may want to consider a no load or low policy. The more that you save on commissions the more money builds up in your policy. You can even buy term insurance no load, and save a lot on premiums. You will not get the help of an agent, which may be worth something if they are very good.
The most important factor determining price is matching your particular health history with the company best suited for that niche. For instance company X might be best for smokers, company Y for cancer survivors, Company Z for people with high blood pressure, etc.
Secret #2: Ignore the hype on term versus cash value permanent insurance.
You can go crazy reading what everyone has to say on buying term insurance versus a whole or universal life policy. Big name websites give advice that I think borders on fraudulent. Simply put there is NO simple answer on whether you should buy permanent cash value policies or term insurance.
But I do think there is a simple rule of thumb – buy term for your temporary insurance needs and cash value insurance for your permanent needs. I have read in various journals and run mathematical equations myself which basically show that if you have a need for insurance beyond 20 years that you should consider some amount of permanent insurance. This is due to the tax advantage of the growth of the cash value within in a permanent policy. I am divorced and have taken care of my children should I die. I probably no longer need as much insurance as I now have. I have earned a great return on my policies and have paid no taxes. I no longer pay the premiums, because there is so much cash in the policies. I let the policies pay themselves. I would not call most life insurance a good investment. Because I bought my policies correctly, and paid almost no sales commissions my policies are probably my best investments. I no longer own them, so when I die my beneficiaries will get the money both tax free, and estate tax free.
Since most people have short term needs like a mortgage or kids at home they should get some term. Additionally most people want some life insurance in place for their whole life to pay for burial, help with unpaid medical bills and estate taxes and so a permanent policy should be purchased along with the term policy.
Secret #3: Consider applying with two companies at once.
Life insurance companies really don’t like this “trick” because it gives them competition and increases their underwriting costs.
Secret #4: Avoid captive life insurance agents.
Look for a life insurance agent who represents at least fifty life insurance companies and ask them for a multi company quote showing the best prices side by side. Some people try to cut the agent out and just apply online. Just remember that you don’t save any money that way because the commissions normally earned by the agent are just kept by the insurance company or the website insurance company without having your premium lowered.
Plus a good agent can help you maneuver through some of the complexities of filling out the application, setting up your beneficiaries, avoiding mistakes on selecting who should be the owner, the best way to pay your premium, and also will be there to deliver the check and assist your loved ones if the life insurance is ever used.
Secret #5: Consider refinancing old life policies.
Most companies won’t tell you but the price you pay on your old policies has probably come down dramatically if you are in good health. In the last few years life insurance companies have updated their predictions on how long people will live. Since we are living longer they are reducing their rates rather dramatically. Beware the agent may be doing this to obtain a new commission, so make sure it really makes sense.
I really am amazed at how often we find that our client’s old policies are twice as expensive as a new one. If you need new life insurance consider “refinancing” your old policies and using the savings on the old policies to pay for the new policy – that way there is no extra out-of-pocket costs. We like to think of this process as “refinancing your life insurance” – just like you refinance your mortgage.
Secret #6: Realize life insurance companies have target niches that constantly change.
One day company ‘X’ is giving good rates to people who are a little overweight and the next month they are super strict. Company ‘Y’ might be lenient on people with diabetes because they don’t have many diabetics on the books – meaning they will give good rates to diabetics. At the same time company ‘W’ might be very strict on diabetics because they are insuring lots of diabetics and are afraid they have too big of a risk in that area – meaning they will give a bad rate to new diabetics who apply.
Unfortunately when you are applying a life insurance company will not tell you, “Hey, we just raised our rates in diabetics.” They will just happily take your money if you were not smart enough to shop around. This is the number one area a smart agent can come in handy. Since a good multi-company agent is constantly applying with multiple companies he or she will have a good handle on who is currently the most lenient on underwriting for you particular situation. The problem is that this is hard work and many agents are either too busy or not set up to efficiently shop around directly to different underwriters and see who would make you the best offer. This is a lot harder than just running you a quote online.
Secret #7: Don’t forget customer service.
Most people shopping for insurance focus on companies with the lowest price and the best financial rating. Unfortunately I know of some A+ rated companies with low rates who I would not touch with a ten foot pole simply because it’s easier to give birth to a porcupine backwards then it is to get customer service from them.
Before I understood this I used a life insurance company that gave a client a great rate but 2 years later the client called me and said, “I have mailed in all my payments on time but just got a notice saying my policy lapsed.” It turned out the company had been making lots of back office mistakes and had lost the premium payment!
We were able to fix it because we caught the problem so early. But if the client happened to have died during the short period the policy had lapsed, his family might have had a hard time proving that the premium had been paid on time and they might not have received the life insurance money – a loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars in that case.
Secret #8: Apply 3-6 months ahead of the time you need the insurance if possible.
Don’t be in a hurry to get a policy if you already have some coverage in force. But go ahead and apply right away knowing that you might need months to shop around if the first company does not give you a good rate. Even though the life insurance industry is getting more automated your application will still often be held up for weeks or months while the insurance company waits on your doctor’s office to mail them a copy of you medical records.
If you are in a hurry and buy a quickie ‘no-underwriting’ policy without going through the full health checks and underwriting that a mainstream life insurance company requires, you will end up paying 20%-50% more because the insurance company will automatically charge you higher rates because they don’t know whether you are healthy or about to die the next day.
Secret #9: Avoid buying extra life insurance through work if you are healthy.
I am sure there are exceptions to this “trick” but I have rarely found one. By all means keep the free life insurance your employer provides. But if you are healthy and you are paying for supplemental life insurance through payroll deduction you are almost certainly paying too much. What is happening is that your ‘overpayments’ ends up subsidizing the unhealthy people in your company who are buying life insurance through payroll deduction.
Usually the life insurance company has cut a deal with your employer and will waive the required health exam for all employees – instead they just average the price for all the employees and offer one or two rates for males or females at any given age. Life insurance companies know they will pick up lots of unhealthy clients this way so they jack up the price on everyone so that the healthy people end up overpaying so that the unhealthy employees get a cheaper policy. Also, unlike the guaranteed term policies which we recommend, most life insurance you buy through work will get more expensive as you get older.
Also group life insurance is generally not portable when you retire or change jobs meaning that when you retire or change jobs you might have to apply all over again even though you will be older and probably not as healthy and risk being turned down for a policy. If the group plan does allow portability they generally limit your conversion choices and force you to go into expensive cash value plans.
I remember helping someone evaluate his supplemental life insurance. He was sure it was a better deal than any policy I could find him. Little did he know that the price of his group plan would go up every year? By the time he retired his premium would have risen to over $10,000/year. I found him a policy for around $1000/year that would never go up. Also, unlike his old group life policy, he could take the individual policy with him when he changed jobs or retired.
Secret #10: Do a trial application on a COD payment basis.
Only send money with the application if you need the life insurance coverage right away. Sending a check with the application is a traditional practice agents used to do – I think mostly because it got them their commissions faster. If you send money with an application you usually get temporary coverage immediately but if you already have plenty of coverage and are just trying to get better rates ask your agent to do a trial application on a COD basis so you only pay once the policy is approved. If you do not send money, and you die before paying for the policy there is no coverage.
Secret #11: Wear your shoes when the nurse measures your height.
When the insurance company sends out the nurse to do your health check try to be as tall as possible if you are overweight? In most states you are allowed to wear shoes and if you are a little overweight your taller height/weight ratio will look a little better to the underwriter who is determining your health rating and policy price. Also do your exam early in the morning with no food in you – this will make your cholesterol count and various health ratios look the best.
Secret #12: Be careful with extra perks and riders.
Most policies come with options like accidental death benefit, child riders, disability riders, return of premium etc. If you do the math on most of these “extras” they usually don’t make smart financial sense. Life insurance companies are out to make money and these riders are usually profitable because they either cover something that rarely happens or they are so stringent that the benefit never gets paid out. Keep things simple and focus mainly on getting a life policy to cover your life without many strings attached. Again a good agent can help you weigh the benefits of the extra riders. But be wary of an agent who tries to tack on every possible extra rider.
Generally a person’s estate consists of all of the property that they own, including but not limited to vehicles, boats, stocks, and personal property. The idea of estate planning for many people is difficult to deal with, because it brings with it some very unpleasant thoughts. However, it is also a good way to ensure that your property is distributed in the manner consistent with your wishes and that the people you care about are provided for in the event of your death.
A will in general is a document that appoints an executor (someone to carry out your wishes) and to direct the distribution your property. The will can also be used to appoint guardians for minor children in the event of your death. A will can also be a “pour over” into a trust. This means that on your death your property is transferred into a trust for the designated beneficiaries.
Statutory Durable Power of Attorney
The second document of any good estate plan is the statutory durable power of attorney. This power of attorney designates a person to handle your financial affairs in the event that you become unable to. There are two ways that this power of attorney can be made. The first is a springing power of attorney, which means that the power of attorney becomes effective upon your disability. The power of attorney can also be made effective immediately.
Medical Power of Attorney
The medical power of attorney is a document that designates an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event that you are unable to. This document is sometimes confused with a living will but it does not have the same function.
The living will informs doctors and hospital of your wishes with regard to the use of life support. This document is typically used in the event that the person’s condition is found to be terminal and irreversible. Generally there are two options, you may elect to have life support continued or discontinued.