Like most people in their 20s, I am at an interesting point in my life when it comes to life insurance. I can get a policy now for the lowest price ever again, yet I don’t feel compelled to get it yet. Here is the logic behind why I probably should get life insurance, and when it is best to sign up.
What is life insurance?
Life insurance works just like car insurance, health insurance, or home owner’s insurance. Each of those types of insurance cover a loss. Life insurance covers a loss of life.
Life insurance is designed to pay a beneficiary if you die. The beneficiary can do anything they want with the money. Most commonly, it is used to cover funeral expenses and replace income for a certain period of time.
Why life insurance is so important
It provides your loved ones with a safety net.
Unfortunately, none of us have the foresight to know when tragedy might befall us, leaving our loved ones the burden of paying for expensive funeral costs and debts; all while suffering a hit on income now that you’re not there to supply it.
A recent study conducted by LIMRA—an insurance industry research outfit—determined that the percentage of families in the United States that actually possessed this safety net was at an all-time low of 44%–which is a 26% decrease from 2010. Furthermore, out of that 44%, 11 million families had children in their households under the age of 18.
This means that 56% of families in the U.S. haze zero protection against tragedies that strike all day, every day, to other families just like theirs. When it does, they’re left with a financial burden that can often break a family and set them up for years of difficulty just from one single tragedy.
When is life insurance important?
I don’t have a wife or kids. If I die, no one will be left without money to eat and pay the mortgage. If you are a parent or the sole income earner of a household, life insurance can be very important.
We don’t like to think about the morbid, but we can die. Sadly, people die before their time every day. We all hope it doesn’t happen to us, but we should be prepared and protect our families and loved ones in case of a worst case scenario.
It’s important to compare life insurance when you have children. Ideally, you should purchase long before you have children and save yourself a substantial amount of money by taking advantage of the lower premiums offered to young adults.
However, if this option didn’t present itself in time, do not underestimate the safety net of life insurance and write it off as a frivolous expense that may, or may not, ever be necessary.
What if I don’t have a family?
If you don’t have a family, life insurance doesn’t seem like a big deal. Who does the money go to? Who needs it? Is it worth the expense?
I personally have life insurance through my job. I took the 5x annual pay option and designated my little sister as my beneficiary. I don’t plan on anything happening to me, but if it does, her medical school education is covered.
Recently I have looked to going further by purchasing my own policy. In my situation, if I leave my job the insurance policy is gone. If I choose to become self-employed, get fired, move, or find a new job, my work policy is gone in less than a month.
If you own your own policy independent of your employer, it goes with you no matter what as long as you continue to make your payments. The most important part: the cheapest you can ever get life insurance is right now!
Life insurance premiums go up with age and risk. As you get older, you are more likely to die, so you have to pay more per $1,000 of coverage. If you have any medical issues or participate in high risk activities, your premiums go up even more. But if you lock them in right now, they are locked in for life.
When is the appropriate age to buy life insurance?
When asking yourself if you’re at an appropriate age to buy life insurance, you should definitely consider two schools of thought:
- Are you in your 20’s? If you’re asking about life insurance young, then good for you! Acquiring cheap rates that will set you up for the next couple of decades is definitely a wise choice. With that said, it is not necessary to purchase life insurance at this point, but it is a sound pre-planning measure if you believe you’ll have a family within the next 10 years.
- Are you starting a family? Perhaps you’re inquiring about life insurance, because you’re starting a family. No matter what age you’re at currently, if you’re just starting a family, or have a family established and want to look into ways to financially secure them, then the time for a life insurance purchase is now.
Where to look for insurance?
If you are ready to get insurance, you can work with any major insurer to find a policy. Shop around, because rates and benefits differ at each company. And in case I didn’t convince you that life insurance is cool, check out the Life Insurance Movement by my friend Jeff Rose.
This post was originally published on May 19, 2013 and updated on June 18, 2019.