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Life insurance policies come in two basic forms: Term Life and Whole Life. Term life insurance lets you choose the coverage amount and the length of the policy, while whole life combines life insurance with an investment product.

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Benefits of Term Life Insurance

While everyone's needs are different, term life insurance offers a number of unique benefits:

  • Less Costly: Whole life insurance is expensive, due mainly to its investment aspect, while term life insurance is very affordable. We're talking thousands of dollars a year for whole life as opposed to the mere hundreds of dollars a year that the majority of term life insurance policies cost consumers. Depending on your age, lifestyle, health, and term of the policy you choose, you may find monthly rates under $10 per $100,000 of coverage.
  • Simplicity: Term life insurance is simple to understand, and allows for personal choice. You pay a monthly premium based on the term length and amount of coverage you choose. That's it. Simple. You can choose term lengths such as 10, 20 or 30 years, and coverage amounts anywhere from $100,000 to several million dollars.
  • Self-Directed: Do you want to manage your money, or have someone else do it for you? With term life, you can invest your hard-earned money yourself, rather than having an insurance company do it for you (as with whole life insurance).
  • More Flexible: Your life goes through many stages, and term life insurance is easier to adjust to your changing needs. For example, parents can buy a policy that expires after their children graduate from college, to ensure that each child's education is paid for in case anything was to happen to them. Another example: The main breadwinner in a house could buy a term policy that matches the length of his or her house's mortgage.

Additional Recommendations

  • Get an online quote that comparison shops across insurance companies. Each insurance company evaluates risks (age, health, lifestyle, and tobacco use) differently, so just calling one company may be an expensive solution. An additional benefit of online insurance quotes is that you only need to fill out one application form, not one for each insurance company.
  • Buy enough life insurance to meet your needs; life insurance is not the place to skimp. Absent a specific need, consider coverage equal to at least 6 times your annual gross income.
  • Match the policy term to your needs. Make sure your dependents are covered until they can provide for themselves, or that your spouse is covered until retirement income becomes available.
  • Buy when you are healthy, and try to match your terms to when you will still be healthy. As you get older, it may be harder to find affordable term life insurance. That in mind, buy a term that you can renew before you get too old, or one that is long enough to cover you well into your retirement.
  • Don't lie on your policy; as life insurance companies will investigate before paying. If you do not admit to a habit, behavior or health risk on your application, your beneficiaries may have a hard time making a successful claim if the need arises.