What Is the Appropriate Amount of Life Insurance to Carry? Is Life Insurance a Good Investment? -

What Is the Appropriate Amount of Life Insurance to Carry? Is Life Insurance a Good Investment?

If you’re interested in providing a degree of security for your loved ones, you may want to consider adding life insurance to your financial strategy. Proceeds from a life insurance policy might be used to cover final costs, debt repayment, or day-to-day expenses. Whether life insurance is a wise investment depends on what you require and want from the coverage.


  • Whether or not life insurance is a wise investment for you is determined by your financial situation and the length of time you will require coverage.
  • Term life insurance makes sense if you need coverage for a specified length of time, whereas permanent life insurance covers you for the rest of your life.
  • Permanent life insurance’s investment component grows tax-free. Additionally, you can borrow tax-free against the cash value to purchase a home or pay for your children’s college expenses.
  • Alternatively, with term life insurance, all of your payments are applied to the death benefit payable to your beneficiaries; there is no cash value and hence no investment component; this results in low premiums in exchange for a substantial death benefit.

Different Types of Life Insurance

When determining if life insurance is a wise investment, it’s critical to understand the many types of plans available. While life insurance policies come in various forms, they generally fall into two categories: permanent and term.

Term life insurance is intended to protect you for a specified period, as the name implies. For instance, you may obtain a 20-or 30-year term life insurance policy. These policies operate similarly to other types of insurance you may have, such as vehicle insurance; you pay a monthly payment. If something unfortunate happens—in this example, your premature death—a reward is paid.

On the other hand, permanent life insurance covers you for the duration of your premium payments. Certain types of permanent life insurance may also include an investment component, enabling policyholders to build up a cash value. When financial counsellors and, more frequently, life insurance agents advocate promoting life insurance as an investment, they refer to the cash-value component of permanent life insurance and the various ways in which this money can be invested and borrowed.

Tip: Premiums for term life insurance are often less expensive than premiums for permanent life insurance.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Permanent Life Insurance

There are numerous arguments in favour of investing in permanent life insurance. Many of these advantages, however, are not exclusive to permanent life insurance. Often, you can obtain them without incurring the hefty maintenance costs and agency commissions associated with permanent life insurance. The following are some of the most frequently cited benefits of permanent life insurance.

Pro: Deferred taxation growth
Permanent life insurance policies with an investing component enable tax-deferred growth of wealth. It implies that you do not pay taxes on any interest, dividends, or capital gains earned on the cash-value part of your life insurance policy until the profits are withdrawn. This is comparable to the tax advantages associated with some types of retirement plans, such as IRAs, 401 (k)s, and 403 (b)s. If you’re consistently maxing out your contributions to these accounts, investing in permanent life insurance may make fiscal sense.

Advantage: Lifetime coverage
Another lauded feature of perpetual life insurance is that coverage does not lapse after a specified number of years. A term policy expires when the term expires, which for many policyholders is in their 60s, whereas a permanent policy can cover you indefinitely. Suppose you anticipate having financial reliance on you for a period longer than the life of standard term insurance (for example, a disabled child). In that case, this benefit may appeal to you.

The advantage is that you can borrow against the cash value.
If you require funds to purchase a home or attend college, you may borrow against the cash value of your permanent life insurance policy. On the other hand, if you contribute to a tax-advantaged retirement plan such as a 401 (k) and wish to withdraw funds for a purpose other than retirement, you may be subject to penalties. Additionally, several retirement plans, such as 457 (b), make it difficult, if not impossible, to withdraw funds for such purposes.

Advantage: Benefits accrue more quickly.
Suppose you suffer from a specific condition, such as a heart attack, stroke, aggressive cancer, or end-stage renal failure. In that case, you may be eligible to collect anywhere from 25% to 100% of your permanent life insurance policy’s death benefit before your death. As they are referred to, the advantage of expedited benefits is that you can utilize them to pay for medical expenses and possibly improve your quality of life in your final months.

IMPORTANT: Accelerated benefits are not available only with permanent life insurance; specific term policies also include them.

Contraindications to Permanent Life Insurance
While permanent life insurance has several advantages, there are also potential drawbacks to consider. Cost is one of the most critical factors. In comparison to term life insurance, permanent life insurance may have higher premiums. If it turns out that you do not require life insurance, you may be paying unnecessary premiums.

Permanent life insurance could potentially have tax ramifications for yourself and your beneficiaries if you elect to surrender a policy or pass away with a loan outstanding. Additionally, taking out loans or accelerating benefits may lower the death benefit paid to your beneficiaries upon your death.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance may be a wise investment if you do not wish to burden your loved ones with debt or other expenses. The following are some of the most significant advantages of purchasing a term life insurance policy.

Pro: Lower premiums
In general, term life insurance is less expensive to obtain than permanent life insurance. The insurance company bears less risk when you are insured for a limited length of time. When you purchase a term life insurance policy, the younger and healthier you are, the lower your premiums are likely to be.

TIP: While no-exam term life insurance policies do not require a medical exam, they may have higher rates.

Pro: Flexibility
One benefit of term life insurance is that you can specify the duration of coverage. Therefore, if you believe you will only require life insurance for ten or twenty years, you can select a term that fits your needs. It provides predictability in forecasting how much you’ll spend on premiums throughout the policy’s term. On the other hand, a permanent life insurance policy would be more of a guessing game, as there is no end date.

The advantages include the ability to convert to permanent insurance.
If you decide you want to prolong your term life policy indefinitely, you could convert it to permanent life insurance coverage. While doing so may increase rates, it may be a reasonable investment if you desire lifetime coverage. Converting may also allow you to accumulate cash.

The Drawbacks of Term Life Insurance
When you purchase a term policy, all of your premiums ensure that your beneficiaries receive a death benefit. In contrast to permanent life insurance, term life insurance has no cash value and thus no investment component. 5 If you are still alive at the end of the term, the policy lapses, leaving you and your beneficiaries with nothing.

However, you can consider term life insurance as an investment in the sense that you are paying relatively low premiums in exchange for the peace of mind that your beneficiaries will get a sizable death benefit in the event of your death.

Suppose you’re looking for a fixed-term policy with an integrated savings mechanism that compensates you for future payments. In that case, a return of premium (ROP) life insurance policy may be an intriguing option. You’ll pay a set rate for the lifetime of your policy, but unlike standard term life insurance, you’ll receive your entire premium back at the policy’s end.

An Example of Term Life Insurance

For $480 per year, a non-smoking 30-year-old woman in excellent health may be able to obtain a 20-year term policy with a $1 million death benefit. If this woman dies at the age of 49 after paying 19 years of premiums, her beneficiaries will receive $1 million tax-free, even though she paid only $9,120.

If your beneficiaries ever need to utilize it, term life insurance delivers an unmatched return on investment. Having said that, if you are among the majority of policyholders whose beneficiaries never submit a claim, it gives a negative return on investment. You will have paid a small price for peace of mind in that scenario, and you can rejoice in your continued existence.

An Example of Permanent Life Insurance

What if the same woman described above had purchased permanent life insurance in place of term life insurance? She could expect to spend $9,370 per year on a whole life insurance policy with the same insurance company. Therefore, how much cash value would she accrue for that additional expense?

  • After five years, the policy’s guaranteed cash value will be $19,880, and she will have paid a total of $46,850 in premiums.
  • After ten years, the policy’s guaranteed cash value will be $65,630, and she will have paid a total of $93,700 in premiums.
  • The policy’s guaranteed cash value will be $181,630 after 20 years, and she will have paid $187,400 in premiums.

However, after 20 years, if she had purchased a term for $480 per year and invested the difference of $8,890 at an average annual return of 8%, she would have $421,064 before taxes. “Certainly,” you respond, “but a permanent life insurance policy ensures its return. I am not promised an 8% return on my investment in the “marketplace.” That is correct. However, even if the woman indicated above invested the additional $8,890 per year in a savings account earning 1% interest, she would end up with $196,425 after 20 years, which is still more than the guaranteed cash value permanent policy, which is $181,630.

Is Purchasing Life Insurance a Wise Investment?

Investing in permanent life insurance as a means of minimizing estate taxes may make sense for specific high-net-worth individuals. However, purchasing a term and investing the difference is frequently the preferable alternative for the typical person.
Even if you’re obtaining life insurance primarily for investment purposes, it’s critical to research the top life insurance companies to ensure you’re getting the best deal.

Death, like taxes, is an inescapable fact of life, even if most people prefer not to dwell on it. However, if you have dependents on your income, it is critical to have the appropriate financial resources in place, including life insurance. Life insurance can assist in covering funeral and burial expenses, repaying outstanding debts, and easing the strain on people left behind in managing day-to-day living expenses. If you don’t have life insurance or are unsure whether your current policy is adequate, here’s how to determine your coverage needs.


  • Your financial and familial circumstances will dictate whether or not you require life insurance and if so, the amount of coverage you should have.
  • While the younger and healthier you are, the lower your premiums will generally be, older adults can still obtain life insurance.
  • Carrying as much life insurance as necessary to pay off your obligations plus any interest may be prudent, especially if you have a mortgage or cosigned school loans with another person.
  • The payout on your insurance should be sufficient to replace your income, plus a small amount to protect against the effects of inflation on purchasing power.

How Is Life Insurance Defined?

Life insurance is a contract in which an insurance company commits to pay a predetermined sum upon the insured party’s death, as long as the premiums are paid on time. This sum is referred to as a death benefit. Policies provide insured individuals with the certainty that their loved ones will have financial security and peace of mind following their death.

Whole life insurance and term life insurance are two distinct types of life insurance. Entire life policies are a sort of perpetual life insurance, which means they cover you for the duration of your premium payments. Specific whole life policies have an investment component that lets you accumulate cash value by investing your pay premiums.

On the other hand, term life insurance covers you for a specified period. For example, depending on your age and the length of time you require coverage, you may acquire a 20-or 30-year policy. Some policies allow you to renew your coverage after it has expired, while others need you to undergo a medical check. When comparing term life and whole life insurance, term life typically has lower premiums.

A medical exam is a required part of the underwriting process for the majority of life insurance plans. However, you may be able to obtain no-exam life insurance at a higher premium cost.

Who Is a Candidate for Life Insurance?

While life insurance can be a beneficial financial tool, not everyone should purchase a policy. If you are single and have no dependents and have sufficient funds to cover your debts and death-related expenses—funeral, estate, attorney fees, and other costs—you may not require life insurance. The same holds if you have dependents and sufficient assets to pay for them upon your death.

However, if you are the primary provider for your dependents or if your debt exceeds your assets, insurance can help ensure that your loved ones are well taken care of in the event of your death. Having a life insurance policy may also make sense if you operate a business or have cosigned obligations, such as private education loans, for which you may be held liable if you die.

Bear in mind that life insurance does not cover every eventuality. For example, a conventional life insurance policy will not cover disability payouts or long-term nursing care costs if you become disabled. However, for an additional premium expense, you can acquire disability riders or long-term care insurance riders that cover those types of eventualities.

TIP:  If you are married, both you and your spouse may require life insurance, even if one of you is the primary source of income for your household.

Insurance for Age and Life

One of the most prevalent illusions perpetuated by life insurance brokers is that you’ve missed the boat if you don’t sign up for a policy while you’re still young. The industry would have us believe that life insurance plans become more challenging to obtain as we age. Insurance firms profit by wagering on the length of people’s lives.
Insurance is indeed less expensive when one is young. However, this does not mean that qualifying for a policy is simpler. Simply said, insurance firms demand higher rates to compensate for the increased risk associated with older people. Still, it is rare for an insurance company to refuse to cover someone prepared to pay the costs related to their risk category. Obtain insurance if and when you require it. Do not purchase insurance out of fear of not qualifying later in life.

Should You Invest in Life Insurance?

If you have a cash-value life insurance policy, you can consider it an investment. Cash value insurance is frequently marketed as an alternative method of saving or investing for retirement. This insurance assists you in accumulating an interest-bearing pool of capital. Interest accrues because the insurance firm, like banks, invests the money for its own gain. They compensate you for the use of your money by paying you a percentage.

However, it is critical to assess the potential rate of return. If you invest the money from the compulsory savings program in an index fund, you may earn a higher rate of return. Individuals who lack the discipline to support themselves regularly may benefit from cash value insurance coverage. On the other hand, disciplined investors can earn a better rate of return by investing the money they would spend on market premiums.

IMPORTANT: If you’re considering using a life insurance policy as an investment, ensure that the underlying assets’ rate of return and risk profile match your financial objectives.

What Is the Suggested Minimum Amount of Life Insurance?

Calculating the amount of money your dependents will require is a significant aspect of purchasing a life insurance policy. The face value of your policy—the amount that you will payout in the event of your death—is determined by several different criteria. As a result, the minimal level of coverage you require may be much different than what another individual requires. Financial experts frequently recommend getting coverage equal to 10 to 15 times your annual salary, but this number may be higher or lower for you. The following are some of the most critical factors to consider when selecting a low-cost life insurance policy.

We can use debt life insurance to repay outstanding debts such as college loans, automobile loans, mortgages, credit cards, and personal loans. If you owe any of these debts, your policy should provide sufficient coverage to pay them off ultimately. Therefore, if you have a $200,000 mortgage and a $4,000 car loan, your policy must have at least $204,000 in coverage. However, do not forget about interest. It would be best if you also borrowed a little more to cover any additional interest or costs.

Income Substitution
One of the primary reasons for purchasing life insurance is to replace lost income. If you are the sole provider for your dependents and earn $40,000 per year, for example, you will require a policy payment that is sufficient to replace your salary, plus a little extra to cover inflation.
Imagine that your policy’s lump-sum payoff is invested at an annual rate of 8% to be on the safe side. You’ll want $500,000 in insurance to replace your income alone. This is not a hard and fast rule, but reinvesting your annual income in the policy ($500,000 + $40,000 = $540,000 in this scenario) provides a reasonable hedge against inflation. Once you’ve established the minimum face value for your insurance policy, you may begin shopping. Numerous internet insurance estimators can assist you in determining the amount of insurance you will require.

Others’ Protection
Other individuals in your life are essential to you, and you may ask whether you should insure them as well. As a general rule, you should ensure only those whose demise would result in a financial loss to you. While the death of a child is emotionally terrible, it does not result in a financial loss because raising children costs money. However, the end of an income-earning spouse results in both emotional and monetary losses.
In that instance, they substitute their income into the income replacement computation. This also applies to financial relationships with business partners. Consider someone with whom you split mortgage payments on a co-owned property. You may wish to consider purchasing insurance for that individual, as their death will significantly impact your financial condition.

If you’re obtaining life insurance to cover a business partnership, you may want to consider a key-person policy rather than a standard coverage.

An Example of Life Insurance Requirements
According to most insurance firms, a decent quantity of life insurance is six to ten times the yearly earnings. Another method of determining the required level of life insurance is to multiply your annual pay by the number of years remaining until retirement. For instance, if a 40-year-old earns $20,000 each year, they will require $500,000 in life insurance (25 years x $20,000).
The standard-of-living calculation is based on the amount of money required by survivors to maintain their living level in the event of the insured party’s death. Multiply the figure by twenty. Survivors can withdraw 5% of the death benefit each year — the equivalent of the standard of living — while investing the death benefit money and earning 5% or more.

Life Insurance Alternatives

There are alternatives if you are purchasing life insurance solely to cover debts and have no dependents. Lending institutions have seen the gains generated by insurance companies and have entered the fray. Credit card companies and banks both offer insurance deductibles on accounts owing. This is frequently only a few dollars per month, and in the event of your death, the policy will pay off that obligation entirely. If you get this coverage through a lending institution, be sure to remove the debt from any life insurance calculations; being doubly covered is a waste of money.

The Verdict

It is critical to determine the amount and type of coverage you require if you require life insurance. Renewable term insurance is often sufficient for most people, but you must consider your specific circumstances. If you want to get insurance through an agent, determine your coverage requirements in advance to avoid being trapped with insufficient coverage or expensive coverage that you don’t require. As with investing, education is critical to making the best decision. Therefore, conduct thorough research to ensure that you obtain the best available life insurance.

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