Life Insurance 101

What is Life Insurance? Do You Know the Right Answer

If you've never looked into life insurance, sifting through the abundance of information can feel overwhelming. Here, we give you the basics. Get the information you need to make the best decision for your situation, your budget, and your family's future.

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What is Life Insurance?

Are you the "breadwinner" for your family? What would happen if you suddenly couldn't provide for them anymore?

Life insurance takes this genuine worry off your plate, giving you peace of mind knowing your loved ones are financially protected. An active life insurance policy ensures your family receives a lump-sum benefit upon your death. They can use this money to pay for your funeral arrangements as well as mortgage or rent payments, tuition fees, and any other living expenses.

Each policy includes four parts:

  • Named insured—This is typically the person who's covered by the policy and responsible for premium payments. However, it's possible that someone other than the named insured owns the policy and makes payments.
  • Beneficiary—The person or persons, institution(s), or entities that receive the benefit payment when the named insured dies. When you create your policy, you can name one or more beneficiaries depending on your situation.
  • Premium—The monthly payments that keep the policy active. Paying your premiums ensures there's no lapse in benefits.
  • Death benefits—The money that's paid to beneficiaries when the named insured dies. Normally, these benefits aren't subject to taxation and the beneficiary(ies) typically receives funds in one complete payment.
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Do I Need Life Insurance?

If something were to happen to you, your family doesn't lose just you — they lose everything you provide. Whether you're providing a stable income in your household or you're a caregiver for someone in your family, you need to ensure they're taken care of in the event of your passing.

You might want to look into life insurance
if you fall into any of these categories:

  • Parent
  • Head of household
  • Stay-at-home parent
  • Divorced parent
  • Married couple
  • Homeowner
  • Retiree
  • Caretaker
  • Student
  • Business owner

Some of these categories overlap, which is all the more reason looking into life insurance now is not only in your best interests but in the best interests of your loved ones.

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How Much Coverage Do I Need?

Shopping for life insurance isn't the same as, say, shopping for clothing — one size clearly doesn't fit all.

Everyone's situation is unique. What are your current assets? How much debt do you have? What plans do you have for the future?

You can use our convenient online coverage calculator to assess your requirements based on your distinctive needs.

Use these guidelines to estimate a coverage amount that works for you:

One way to come up with a general coverage amount is by multiplying your current net income by 10.

Alternatively, you can use the "DIME" method for a more detailed breakdown. DIME stands for:

  • Debt — How much do you currently carry in debt, not counting your mortgage? Include your final expenses, as well.
  • Income — Multiply your annual net income by how many years you expect your family to need support.
  • Mortgage — How much do you still owe on your home?
  • Education — How much will it cost to send all of your children to college?
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Baby girl with her father

Choosing Length of Coverage

When calculating the amount of coverage you need — whether you need California life insurance, Nebraska life insurance, or anywhere in between — you also need to think about how long the coverage should last. If you want coverage that never expires, permanent life insurance is a good call.

If you only want it during a certain time period — for instance, in the event of financial hardship — term life insurance may be your best choice.

Permanent life insurance is always the best option because, frankly, we just never know the hour or the day. But if you decide to opt for term life coverage, you might want to time your term limit with:

  • The date your mortgage is paid in full
  • The year your children will have graduated college
  • When you've reached retirement age
  • When you've reached your savings goals

Benefits of Life Insurance

Life insurance carries several benefits depending on your unique situation. Consider this:

  • Parent — Provide for your children
  • Head of household — Ensure your family is taken care of
  • Stay-at-home parent — While you might not be a breadwinner, there are things you provide that your family will be without when you die.
  • Divorced parent — Help ensure the other parent has the resources to finish raising your children.
  • Married couple — Ensure your spouse has the means to survive when you pass away.
  • Homeowner — Make certain your home remains in your family and isn't foreclosed upon because your family couldn't make the mortgage payments.
  • Retiree — Helps cover your final expenses.
  • Caretaker — Provides the money needed to find care for a loved one.
  • Student — If you carry student loan debt, it doesn't necessarily get forgiven when you die. Life insurance can help pay off your outstanding debts so your family doesn't have to.
  • Business owner — Ensure your business isn't liquidated when you pass away.

Which form of life insurance should you choose?

Permanent life insurance, also known as whole life insurance, offers coverage with no expiration date as long as you pay your premiums. With our affordable plans, this could be the perfect option for you.

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Parents walking with childrens

Some benefits of whole life insurance include:

  • Some policies offer a cash component. This cash accumulates as you pay your premiums. Once you've had the policy for a set amount of time, you're guaranteed a minimum return rate.
  • You can borrow against your policy's cash value or withdraw it entirely if you choose. The longer you leave it, the greater it grows — not to mention you'll maintain your death benefit if you don't withdraw the funds.
  • Because whole life policies are much longer in duration than a typical term life policy and they accumulate cash value, whole life premiums are often more expensive than term life policies.

For instance, say you're nearing 70 years of age and you're retired. You want to make sure you don't saddle your loved ones with financial worry and expenses when you pass away. You want coverage that won't expire so you can guarantee a death benefit will be paid to your family upon your death for final expenses. Here, permanent life insurance makes the most sense. You're covered for the rest of your life with no worries.

Term life insurance

Term life insurance is meant for just a certain portion of your life. As long as premiums are paid, the coverage remains in effect for the length of the term. Once the term expires, you no longer have life insurance unless you opt to begin another term.

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