There are ways to save money when buying life insurance, but they don’t always entail paying a lower premium immediately. As your top priority, look for a policy that meets your needs. Buying the wrong benefits for a low premium is a waste, not a saving. Beyond that, here are some ways to maximize your life insurance dollars.
Before you buy
Once you’ve determined what type of life insurance product to buy:
- Focus on financially sound companies. Dozens of companies sell life insurance. Limit yourself to companies with high ratings from two or more independent rating agencies. A low premium from a shaky company isn’t a good buy.
- Shop around to get a sense of the premium you’re likely to pay. Quote services on the Internet may serve this purpose, or you can ask an agent or broker to get you a premium estimate. As part of this research, determine which rate class you’ll fit into. Most companies that sell individual life insurance have several different price classes—usually called “preferred (non-tobacco),” “standard (non-tobacco),” “preferred (tobacco),” and “standard (tobacco).” A small percentage of people have health conditions or histories that disqualify them for even “standard” rates. Many in this group will be offered insurance at “impaired risk” or “nonstandard” rates.
- Look into group insurance. Consider participating in your employer-sponsored life insurance program, even if you have to contribute to it financially. Employers often subsidize their group insurance costs, so it can be less expensive than individual life insurance. You might obtain coverage up to a certain level without providing evidence of good health, an advantage for some people. You’ll probably pay premiums through payroll deduction, which can be a nice convenience. However, make sure to compare group and individual rates, as depending on your age and health status, group insurance may or may not provide a savings. In comparing group to individual life insurance, remember that if you have over $50,000 of group life insurance, IRS tables determine how much it costs to provide the amount over $50,000 and charges you taxable income for that cost.
- Take care of yourself. Find out into which rate class you’ll be grouped and, if necessary, consider making some lifestyle changes—don’t smoke, maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly—to qualify for a more favorable rate class.
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