Life insurance seems like a big deal.
But setting it up is surprisingly easy, and paying for it can be surprisingly affordable.
If you think you might need life insurance, but you’re intimidated by the seriousness of it all or don’t know where to start, we’ve gathered some of Business Insider’s most helpful articles in one place. If you want to learn more about life insurance, figure out if it’s for you, and get some tips on where to start, you’ve come to the right place.
Who needs life insurance?
If you have dependents — that’s people who rely on your income, like children, a non-working spouse, or aging parents you support — you need life insurance. If you don’t have dependents but do have debt or own a business, you might also want to consider it.
How much life insurance do I need?
Traditionally, the rule of thumb is to get life insurance worth 10 times your annual income — so if you make $75,000 a year, you’d get $750,000 worth of coverage. However, some experts consider that to be a low estimate, especially if you’d want your life insurance payout to cover your child’s college tuition, or if you have a mortgage on your home you’d want to pay off. Some people choose to get millions in coverage.
I already have life insurance through work. Is that enough?
As financial adviser Jeff Rose says, “the only people who have enough life insurance through work are the ones who don’t need it.” Employer-sponsored life insurance policies tend to offer limited coverage, and their chief drawback is that generally you won’t be covered any longer if you leave your job.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t sign up for the policy offered by your job — only that you’ll want to strongly consider adding an independent policy as well.
How much does life insurance cost?
There are two types of life insurance: term life and whole life. Term life, which covers policyholders for a set term (like 30 years), is recommended for most people primarily because it’s much more affordable than whole life.
Depending on your profile and your coverage needs, it’s possible to get term life insurance coverage for as little as $25 a month or less. When you sign up for a term policy, your payment is fixed, meaning unless you change your coverage needs, you’ll be paying that $25 a month for the entire 30 years.
I’m going to have a baby — when should I get life insurance?
For life insurance, the sooner, the better. Life insurance coverage gets more expensive as you age and become riskier — in the eyes of an insurance company — to cover. If you can, you’ll want to get life insurance before you have a child, if only because you’re currently younger and presumably healthier than you’ll ever be (plus, it’s nice to cross a chore off the list before you have a newborn).
What if I don’t have children? Should I have life insurance?
Most people think about life insurance in terms of leaving money to their children should they die, but really it’s for leaving money to dependents. That’s anyone relying on your income to live, including aging parents you support or non-working spouses.
Some people choose to get life insurance even if they don’t have dependents, for a variety of reasons:
- They have debt they don’t want their family members or cosigners to have to assume
- They want to leave money to pay the full cost of a funeral and burial so their loved ones don’t have to pay for it
- They own a business and want to use the policy as collateral to borrow money or to keep things running if they die
- They want to make sure their same-sex spouse is taken care of, even if the courts overturn their marriage in the future