Life insurance is an invaluable way of protecting your loved ones in an uncertain future. However, having a policy that doesn't deliver when it's needed can almost be worse than having no policy at all, simply adding to the difficulties your family will already be facing.
When arranging your life coverage, it's vital to avoid these six mistakes which can badly devalue the value and usefulness of a policy.
1) Taking Out the Wrong Policy Type
Life insurance isn't just life insurance. There are many different policy types available, some offering straightforward coverage that pays a benefit if you die, and others including an investment element to help provide for your retirement. Choosing the wrong type could leave you under insured, or alternatively mean you're paying for benefits you neither want nor need.
If you don't fully understand what phrases like 'declining term', 'whole life', and 'universal coverage' mean, then don't rush into buying a policy until you've explored all your options.
2) Buying Via a Tied Agent
A tied agent essentially works for a single insurer, and arranges policies solely through that company. They may be able to offer some good deals, but they don't have access to the full market of policies. If you want to be sure you're getting the best of all available options, consulting with a fully independent insurance broker is a wiser option.
3) Under‑Insuring Yourself
The more coverage you arrange, the higher your premiums will be. However, trying to save a few dollars a month by reducing your coverage amount could be a false economy if the potential payout doesn't fully meet your family's needs.
Always ensure you have adequate coverage for the most expensive circumstances you can think of, and look to make savings in other areas of your insurance budget if necessary. An independent broker can help you look for ways to cut premiums without sacrificing your coverage quality.
4) Not Insuring a Non‑Earning Partner
At first glance, it seems sensible to only cover the main earner of the family, to replace the lost income if the worst should happen. However, it makes a lot of sense to also insure a partner who's not in a paying job.
For example, if tragedy struck and you were left needing to arrange full‑time child care, could your current income handle it? Insuring a partner needn't cost a huge amount extra, but it can make a huge difference to the versatility of the coverage.
5) Incomplete Information
A life insurance application often asks for all kinds of sensitive personal information, but it's important to be fully complete and honest when filling it out. In particular, don't be tempted to gloss over a historical illness or other item in the hope of pushing the premium cost downward.
Even the smallest incorrect detail on a policy allows the insurer to refuse a claim, so long as they can show the wrong information was knowingly supplied.
6) Using Automatic Policy Renewal
Lastly, once you've gone to the time and trouble of arranging coverage it can be tempting to let the policy renew automatically each year. Nonetheless, it's important to keep on top of your life insurance provisions.
If your personal circumstances change, you may be able to reduce your premiums to reflect your new situation. On the other hand, not updating your policy to include new health information, for example, risks the policy being voided if a claim is made.
Arranging life insurance isn't many people's idea of fun, but it's essential to get it right and keep it up to date. Working with a reputable independent broker can take away much of the stress and hassle, save you money, and ensure your family is fully protected whatever the future might hold.