April 4, 2014 6:00 pm EST

Here Are A Few Things You Need To Know About Whole Life Insurance

life isurance blank bar chart and glases

What is whole life insurance?

A whole life insurance policy covers you for your entire life, not just for a specific period such as term insurance. Your death benefit and premium in most cases will remain the same. Whole life insurance also builds cash value, which is a return on a portion of your premiums that the insurance company invests. Your cash value is tax-deferred until you withdraw it and you can borrow against it.

Are there choices within whole life insurance?

Yes, the most common choices include traditional, interest-sensitive, and single-premium whole life insurance policies. A traditional whole life insurance policy gives you a guaranteed minimum rate of return on your cash value portion. An interest-sensitive whole life insurance policy gives a variable rate on your cash value portion, similar to an adjustable rate mortgage. With interest-sensitive whole life insurance you can have more flexibility with your life insurance policy such as increasing your death benefit without raising your premiums depending on the economy and the rate of return on your cash value portion. Single-premium is for someone who has a large sum of money and would like to purchase a policy up front. Like other whole life insurance options, single-premium whole life insurance accrues cash value and has the same tax shelter on returns.

What are the benefits of choosing a whole life insurance policy over other types of life insurance policies?

Unlike term life insurance, a portion of your premium money goes toward your cash value which in turn could pay off your entire policy only after a few years. Also, your premium will remain constant during the time you are covered unless you choose otherwise. And, unless you make a change to your whole life insurance policy, you have lifelong coverage with no future medical exams. Whole life is also a good choice because of the tax savings.

Should I purchase a whole life policy for an investment?

The rate of return on a whole life insurance policy is very low compared to other investments, even with the tax savings factored in. Most investment professionals would agree that life insurance should not be used solely as an investment tool and you should judge your policy choices on the protection and not the rate of return. But, if you are in need of life insurance, the tax benefits and cash value is an added bonus when purchasing protection for your loved ones.

March 20, 2014 3:35 pm EST

Which Is Right For You: Permanent Or Term Life Insurance?

Few people who have bought insurance – or even window-shopped for quotes - have escaped the debate over term versus permanent insurance.

And the wrong kind of life insurance can do more damage to your financial plans than just about any other financial product today. So, the first and most important decision you must make when buying life insurance is: term, permanent or a combination of both? Let’s look at each.

Term life policies offer death benefits only, so if you die, you win (so to speak). If you live past the length of the policy, you (or, more specifically, your family members) get no money back.

Permanent life policies offer death benefits and a “savings account” (also called “cash value”) so that if you live, you get back at least some of, and often much more than, the amount you spent on your premium. You get this money back either by cashing in the policy or by borrowing against it.

Permanent life insurance is more expensive

As you might expect, permanent life insurance premiums are more expensive than term premiums because some of the money is put into a savings program. The longer the policy has been in force, the higher the cash value, because more money has been paid in and the cash value has earned interest, dividends or both.

The debate is all about that cash value. If you buy a policy today, your first annual premium is likely to be much higher for a permanent life policy than for term.

However, the premiums for permanent life stay the same over the years, while the premiums for term life increase. That extra premium paid in the early years of the permanent policy gets invested and grows, minus the amount your agent takes as a sales commission. The gain is tax-deferred if the policy is cashed in during your life. (If you die, the proceeds are usually tax-free to your beneficiary.)

The saying you always hear is, “Buy term and invest the difference.” The fact is, it depends on how long you keep your policy. If you keep the permanent life policy long enough (and the market ever fully rebounds), that’s the best deal. But “long enough” varies, depending on your age, health, insurance company, the types of policies chosen, interest and dividend rates, and more. The reality is that there is not a simple answer, because life insurance is not a simple product.

Guidelines to live by when buying

Even with all of these variables, there are some guidelines you can follow. The key is how long you plan to keep the policy. If the answer is less than 10 years, term is clearly the solution.

If it is more than 20 years, permanent life is probably the way to go. The big gray area is in between. Here is where you need an expert to run the term vs. permanent analysis for you. Of course, this assumes you keep the policy in force. Most people drop their policies within the first 10 years, but if you do your homework now, that shouldn’t be the case for you.

How to choose

Categorize your insurance needs by their use. If you need $60,000 for college and your youngest child will graduate in three years, you need $60,000 of term insurance as a short-term hedge against your death, thus insuring that your child can finish his or her education. Meanwhile, if your estate will owe $200,000 in taxes at your death, you probably need permanent insurance, because you’re not likely to die in the next 20 years (you hope). You also may want to re-evaluate your estate plan, but that’s a different issue.

November 10, 2013 7:33 pm EST

Why A Pet Owner Needs Pet Insurance

Surprisingly, a lot of people don’t know about pet insurance. You hear stories about a friends pet getting sick, and them putting it down even if it doesn’t sound that bad. The big reason for this is that they can’t afford to pay for the bills associated with their pet being sick. Having pet insurance, as with having health insurance, will help big time in the event something happens to your pet.

Here are a few advantages to having pet insurance:

It’s not always easy to come up with the money to cover a vet bill. Even if you have the income that can support an unexpected problem, you could still be overwhelmed with additional testing and other such things that come with a sick or hurt pet. Pet insurance will help you get all that you need to assure that your pet is covered and your worries over a bill and your pet are dramatically lessened.

There are a bunch of different policies to choose from. Some policies will cover things such as accidents, x-rays, surgeries, prescriptions, hospitalization, illness, cancer, and hereditary diseases. These policies offer you a bit of peace of mind when all you want to do is care for your pet, and not worry about the expenses more than your pet.

Pets are family. To give them a chance at a healthy life is what all family members want for each other.