If your family relies on your income, it’s critical to consider having enough life insurance to provide for them after you pass away. But too often, life insurance is an overlooked aspect of personal finances.
In fact, according to a 2018 study conducted by Life Happens and LIMRA, which closely follows life insurance trends, two in five Americans say they have no life insurance coverage at all, and 20% of Americans who do have coverage say they need more.1
Role of Life Insurance
Recognizing the role life insurance can play in your family’s finances is an important first step. A critical second step is determining how much life insurance you may need.
Several factors will affect the cost and availability of life insurance, including age, health and the type and amount of insurance purchased. Life insurance policies have expenses, including mortality and other charges. If a policy is surrendered prematurely, the policyholder also may pay surrender charges and have income tax implications. You should consider determining whether you are insurable before implementing a strategy involving life insurance. Any guarantees associated with a policy are dependent on the ability of the issuing insurance company to continue making claim payments.
Rule of Thumb
One widely followed rule of thumb for estimating a person’s insurance needs is based on income. One broad guide suggests a person may need a life insurance policy that is five times his or her annual income. Others recommend up to ten times annual income.
But if you are looking for a more accurate estimate, consider completing a “DNA test.” A DNA test is a Detailed Needs Analysis that takes into account a wide range of financial commitments to help better estimate insurance needs.
The first step is to add up needs and obligations.
Which funds will need to be available for final expenses, such as a funeral, final medical bills, and any outstanding debts, such as credit cards or personal loans? How much to make available for short-term needs will depend on your individual situation.
How much will it cost to maintain your family’s standard of living? How much is spent on necessities like housing, food, and clothing? Also, consider factoring in expenses such as travel and entertainment. Answering the question, “What would it cost per year to maintain this lifestyle?” is good place to start.
What additional expenses may arise in the future? What family consideration will need to be addressed, especially if there are young children? Will aging parents need some kind of support? How about college costs? Factoring in potential new obligations allows for a more accurate picture of ongoing financial needs.
Next, subtract all current assets available.
Any assets that can be redeemed quickly and for a predictable price are considered liquid. Generally, houses and cars are not considered liquid assets since they may require time to sell. Also, remember that selling a home may adjust a family’s current standard of living.
Needs and obligations — minus liquid assets — can help you get a better idea about the amount of life insurance coverage you may need. While this exercise is a good start to understanding your insurance needs, a more detailed review may be necessary to better assess your situation.
1. 2018 Insurance Barometer Study, Life Happens and LIMRA
The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2019 FMG Suite.