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When Should You Buy Life Insurance?

Life insurance protects families and individuals from the loss of financial support due to the insured's passing. Because time is of the essence when determining life insurance premiums, it may be tricky to decide on the best time to buy a policy. By purchasing life insurance in your 20s, you will likely receive more affordable premiums, as premiums increase as you age.

Key takeaways:

Life insurance: when should you consider buying it?

People purchase life insurance for several reasons. A common reason is to create an estate. Life insurance also offers benefits such as avoiding probate, as life insurance is separate from the insured's estate. It also provides funds to cover end-of-life expenses like funeral and burial costs so your loved ones do not have to worry about covering them.

Many young people don't think about purchasing life insurance. It may seem unnecessary; however, a policy is less expensive the younger the applicant, and policies such as permanent life add cash value over time that the policyholder can borrow against.

For example, if you buy a life insurance policy in your 20s, you are likely to receive the most affordable premiums. Because life insurance premiums are based on mortality, and people in their 20s are expected to have a long life, it is beneficial to lock in affordable premiums. Although applicants in their 20s may not have realized their full financial potential, they will still benefit from less expensive premiums. Premiums increase as you age, and you may see a significant difference in premium prices.

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Life insurance actuaries are insurance company's mathematicians who factor premiums based on expenses, interest, and mortality. Therefore, the younger and healthier you are, the less expensive your premiums will be.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners compiles a table demonstrating the mortality rate in the United States from birth to age 120. The longer you are expected to live, the more premiums you will pay over time. Therefore, premiums are usually less expensive the longer you are expected to live. Obtaining a life insurance policy while you are young and in good health is a cost-effective decision.

Premiums may be paid monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually. Single-premium policies are also available from some companies and require a large cash investment.

When is life insurance necessary?

Many purchase their first life insurance policy in their 30s. This is typically because applicants at this age have more responsibilities, such as a family and the need to protect household income. Married couples may buy joint life insurance under one policy. The policy pays the benefit to the surviving spouse after the first insured dies or converts it to an individual policy. A joint survivorship policy pays the benefit to the beneficiaries after the loss of the second insured. The advantage of these policies is that the premiums are less expensive than two separate policies.

Married applicants with children may consider life insurance to cover family needs. Family income life insurance policies combine whole and term life insurance to provide a lump-sum cash benefit and income for a specified time to the policy's beneficiaries.

Term life insurance riders may also accompany a base life insurance policy to cover additional family members. Children and family term riders extend coverage to the insured's children or multiple family members. Once children reach adulthood, they can convert the coverage to a permanent life insurance policy.

If you have not purchased a life insurance policy before retirement, usually between the ages of 60 and 70, premiums will be significantly more costly. Furthermore, if you are a senior with a history of health issues, your life insurance options may be limited.

Life insurance policy based on your age

The younger and healthier you are, the less expensive your policy should be. When determining whether to accept, decline, or classify a risk, underwriters use various sources of information, including the application, the agent's report, and sometimes a medical exam or attending physician's or nurse's statement. Some insurance companies use medical testing services and will send a nurse to your home or workplace to record your blood pressure, and pulse and obtain a blood sample. Once the risk is accepted, they are classified.

A minimal risk is assigned less expensive premiums. A standard risk is an average to insurers who pay standard life insurance rates. A substandard risk indicates the applicant has a greater probability of encountering the covered loss, which is death, and pays higher premiums.

  • When under 30. Parents, grandparents, or guardians can insure minors with a juvenile life insurance policy. The adult must be the applicant and the policy owner responsible for paying the premiums. Juvenile insurance is designed to provide long-term, affordable permanent coverage. Premiums are typically lower because they will be paid over a more extended time. The child can take over ownership of the policy when they reach adulthood.
  • When you are 30 to 65. Life insurance applicants between the ages of 30 and 65 may be classified as preferred risks if they do not have a family history of illness, enjoy good health, or have high-risk occupations or risky habits.
  • Over 65. Applicants Over 65 may be considered a substandard risk by some life insurance companies due to the mortality rate. They may pay higher premiums, or if they have a history of illness, they may not qualify for a traditional life insurance policy. Applicants with health conditions cannot be turned down for a guaranteed issue life insurance policy, and simplified issue life insurance policies have a less vigorous underwriting process, but policy owners pay higher premiums.

When should you buy term insurance?

Term life insurance is a good choice for applicants who have not reached their full income potential. They are more affordable than permanent life insurance policies, and most companies offer a conversion feature, so the policy owner can convert the coverage to a permanent policy when they are more financially secure.

Young couples may benefit from the security of having a term life insurance policy to cover each other. Premiums are typically less expensive and will provide coverage to the surviving spouse to cover the household expenses upon the insured's loss.

When to buy permanent life insurance?

Permanent life insurance is intended to last the insured's lifetime. Once applicants are approved, their assigned premiums are set for the contract's life. It is beneficial to secure less expensive rates at a younger age. But, because permanent life insurance policies grow cash value, they are usually more costly than term life insurance and are best for people who have obtained their income goals.

Reasons not to buy life insurance

Life insurance policies offer many benefits to insured families, but not everyone needs to purchase a policy. Individuals can self-insure by creating a reserve fund with their own money. Wealthy individuals or families who would see little benefit from a life insurance policy may find it more worthwhile to self-insure.

Furthermore, if you do not have the funds to secure a life insurance policy, it is best to wait until you do. Nonpayment of premiums will cause your policy to terminate and lapse.

The best time to buy life insurance depends on your circumstances. Premiums are typically more expensive with age; however, not everyone can afford the expense. Explore life insurance options such as term life insurance and permanent life insurance policies here on Health News to learn more about the right policy at the right time for you.


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