Life Insurance 101

Life insurance can be a valuable financial tool for protecting your loved ones and ensuring their financial stability in the event of your death. However, understanding the basics of life insurance can be overwhelming. Here is a Life Insurance 101 guide to help you understand the key concepts and terminology. 

What is life insurance?

Life insurance is a contract between you and an insurance company in which you pay regular premiums in exchange for a payout to your beneficiaries when you pass away. The payout, known as the death benefit, can be used to cover expenses such as funeral costs, debts, and living expenses for your loved ones.

Types of life insurance

There are two main types of life insurance: term life insurance and whole life insurance.
Term life insurance provides coverage for a specific period, usually between 10 to 30 years. If you pass away during the policy term, your beneficiaries receive the death benefit. If you outlive the policy term, the coverage expires and you will not receive any payout.  Term is the most popular type of coverage. 
Whole life insurance provides coverage for your entire life, as long as you continue to pay your premiums. It also includes a savings component, known as the cash value, which can be used for investment or borrowing purposes.

How much coverage do I need?

The amount of life insurance coverage you need depends on your personal circumstances, such as your age, income, and number of dependents. As a general rule, experts recommend having coverage that is 10 to 12 times your annual income. However, it is important to work with a financial advisor or insurance agent to determine the right amount of coverage for your specific situation and family needs.

Factors that affect life insurance rates

  • Several factors can affect the cost of life insurance, including:
  • Age: Younger individuals typically have lower rates than older individuals.
  • Health: Your overall health and any pre-existing conditions can affect your rates.
  • Lifestyle: Factors such as smoking, drinking, and high-risk hobbies can also impact your rates.
  • Gender: Women typically have lower rates than men.

How to apply for life insurance

To apply for life insurance, you will need to fill out an application and possibly undergo a medical exam. Some companies use technology to bypass the medical exam to make the process easier. The insurance company will review your application to determine your rates and eligibility for coverage and approve/reject your application.