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Ultimate Life Insurance Guide

Life insurance policies are NOT created equal. Some provide coverage for the rest of your life until your dying day while others cover you for a specific length of time (years). Some policies build up cash value and others don’t. Some combine different kinds of insurance and others will allow you to change from one type of insurance to another. Some may offer some other benefits while you are still living, called “living benefits”.There are TWO basic types of life insurance… “Term” and “Cash Value”Term insurance has lower premiums (what you pay) in the early years of owning the policy, however DOES NOT build any cash values that you can use as a financial resource in the future while you are still living. None. The benefit of term insurance is the lower premiums.You can however, COMBINE term insurance and cash value insurance for the period of time that your family would have the greatest need to replace your income. An example of this would be to help your family raise the children, should you die before they are old enough to be self-sufficient.Term insurance simply provides coverage for a term of one or more years. It provides a death benefit only during the specified term and pays nothing once the policy expires or if premiums are not paid.Term insurance typically offers the most bang for the buck… the most coverage for the smallest amount of premium.You can renew most term policies without providing what is called “evidence of insurability”. This means, that if you get deathly ill at the 9 year mark of a 10 year term policy, you can simply renew the policy by continuing to pay premiums and you won’t have to prove that your health is in good standing as you did when you first took out the policy.Keep in mind, that each time you do renew the policy your premiums will go up. Be sure to ask your agent or insurance company exactly how much the premiums will go up when you renew the policy. Check to see if you’ll lose the right to renew the policy at a specific age. For a higher premium, some insurers will allow you the right to have the policy in force for a period that is guaranteed to be the same each year. You would of course have to provide evidence of insurability at renewal time, under that type of policy.During a conversion period, you may be able to trade a term for a whole life policy, or if you have a “convertible” provision in your policy, you may be able to convert your temporary insurance to permanent at any time.Cash Value Life Insurance is a kind of life insurance where the amount of premium you pay is higher in the beginning for the same death benefit (face amount or face value) of a term policy. The part of the premium that you pay isn’t used for the actual cost of the insurance, but rather is invested by the insurance company. This invested amount builds cash value that can by used by you while you are still living in a variety of ways.You can take out a loan against the cash value. If you don’t pay it back, the amount borrowed against the policy will be deducted from the face value of the policy upon death. You can also use the cash value to keep some insurance protection in force for a limited period or to purchase a reduced face amount without having to pay any more in premiums (paid up).Cash Value Insurance is known as whole life, universal life or variable life and each of these different types of cash value policies have differences.Whole Life Insurance provides protection for as long as you live (your whole life) so long as your premiums are paid. The premiums are generally guaranteed and never change. Some whole life policies are paid up in a specific period of years. This is commonly known as “20 pay life” or “10 pay life”. These policies are generally for children as the premiums for this type of policy can be very expensive in later years.Universal Life Insurance is a flexible policy that allows you to vary your premium payments. The face amount of the policy can be adjusted by the policy owner. Increases in face amount will generally require a health checkup to make sure you’re not getting the additional coverage due to health concerns. A part of your monthly premium covers the cost of the insurance (insurance portion is always Annual Renewable Term) and the other part of the premium goes into a separate cash account. This separate account is used for investments by the insurance company and pays interest to you. Or, if the separate account doesn’t earn money from investments, you can lose money. If this amount continues to drop and becomes negative, you will lose your coverage.Variable Life Insurance is a type of policy where the death benefits (face value) and cash values are dependent upon the performance of investments made by the insurer in one or more separate accounts. These may be mutual fund investments, real estate accounts, bond accounts and others. Be sure to carefully study the prospectus offered with this type of policy. With variable life, you may have to pay a higher premium for a guaranteed death benefit.