What Is Life Insurance?
Life insurance is a contract between an insurer and a policyholder. A life insurance policy guarantees the insurer pays a sum of money to named beneficiaries when the insured policyholder passes, in exchange for the premiums paid by the policyholder during their lifetime.
- For the contract to be enforceable, the life insurance application must accurately disclose the insured’s past and current health conditions and high-risk activities.
- For a life insurance policy to remain in force, the policyholder must pay a single premium up front or pay regular premiums over time.
- When the insured passes, the policy’s named beneficiaries will receive the death benefits.
- Term life insurance policies expire after a certain number of years. Permanent life insurance policies remain active until the insured passes, stops paying premiums, or surrenders the policy.
- Although companies are regulated, it’s wise to choose a company that is reputable and stable.
Who Should Buy Life Insurance?
Life insurance provides financial support to surviving dependents or other beneficiaries after the death of an insured. Here are some examples of people who may need life insurance:
- Parents with minor children—If a parent passes, the loss of their income or caregiving skills could create a financial hardship. Life insurance can make sure the kids will have the financial resources they need until they can support themselves.
- Adults who own property together – Married or not, if the death of one adult would mean that the other could no longer afford loan payments, upkeep, and taxes on the property, life insurance may be a good idea. An example would be an engaged couple who took out a joint mortgage to buy their first house.
- Elderly parents who want to leave money to adult children who provide their care—Many adult children sacrifice by taking time off work to care for an elderly parent who needs help. This help may also include direct financial support. Life insurance can help reimburse the adult child’s costs when the parent passes away.
- Young adults who want to lock in low rates—Guaranteed future insurability! The younger and healthier you are, the lower your insurance premiums. A 20-something adult might buy a policy even without having dependents if there is an expectation to have them in the future.
- Wealthy families who expect to owe estate taxes—Life insurance can provide funds to cover the taxes and keep the full value of the estate intact.
- Businesses with key employees—If the death of a key employee, such as a CEO, would create a severe financial hardship for a firm, that firm may have an insurable interest that will allow it to purchase a life insurance policy on that employee.
- Married pensioners—Instead of choosing between a pension payout that offers a spousal benefit and one that doesn’t, pensioners can choose to accept their full pension and use some of the money to buy life insurance to benefit their spouse or dependents. This strategy is called pension maximization.
How Life Insurance Works
A life insurance policy has two main components—a death benefit and a premium. Term life insurance has these two components, but permanent or whole life insurance policies also have a cash value component.
- Death Benefit—The death benefit is the amount of money the insurance company guarantees to the beneficiaries in the policy when the insured passes. The insured might be a parent, and the beneficiaries might be their children, for example. The insured will choose the desired death benefit amount based on the beneficiaries’ estimated future needs. The insurance company will determine whether there is an insurable interest and if the proposed insured qualifies for the coverage based on the company’s underwriting requirements related to age, health, and any hazardous activities in which the proposed insured participates.
- Premium—Premiums are the money the policyholder pays for insurance. The insurer must pay the death benefit when the insured passes if the policyholder pays the premiums as required, and premiums are determined in part by how likely it is that the insurer will have to pay the policy’s death benefit based on the insured’s life expectancy. Factors that influence life expectancy include the insured’s age, gender, medical history, occupational hazards, and high-risk hobbies. Part of the premium also goes toward the insurance company’s operating expenses. Premiums are higher on policies with larger death benefits, individuals who are higher risk, and permanent policies that accumulate cash value.
- Cash Value—The cash value of permanent life insurance serves two purposes. It is a savings account that the policy owner can use during the life of the insured; the cash accumulates on a tax-deferred basis. Some policies may have restrictions on withdrawals depending on how the money is to be used. For example, the policyholder might take out a loan against the policy’s cash value and have to pay interest on the loan principal. The policyholder can also use the cash value for various purposes such as supplementing their retirement income or paying for college tuition.
When you take care of your life, it’s easy to protect your loved ones. With Aspen Creek Financial, you can find a life insurance plan that fits your lifestyle. Contact us for a free assessment and we can find you the perfect fit.
If you would like more information on the different types of life insurance policies in the marketplace and to have a discussion about which one is the best fit for your situation, please contact our office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-937-1937.