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).