No matter if you’re single or married, in your twenties or your forties, a parent or not, life insurance coverage is important in ways you may not realize, and costs less than you’d expect. And experts now stress that employer-sponsored coverage typically isn’t sufficient to cover most people’s needs.
“Living your best life comes with risks, but don’t let uncertainty deter you from buying a house, traveling or starting a business,” says Sean Scaturro, director of Life and Health Insurance Advice at USAA. “Take the necessary steps to protect loved ones from financial burden in the event of tragedy.”
Whether the money is used to replace your income, pay debts, pay for education or burial expenses, life insurance affords financial safety to loved ones.
The 2018 Insurance Barometer Study published by Life Happens and LIMRA indicates that 44 percent of millennials overestimate the cost of life insurance by five times the actual amount and 42 percent believe they wouldn’t qualify. But, in reality, premiums are typically lowest when you’re younger, so it’s a smart decision to get some coverage, and reevaluate as life changes. For many young adults, student loans and housing costs sit atop the list of financial priorities. Without life insurance, the responsibility for these debts could fall to family members.
Mind the Gap
Just because you signed up for life insurance coverage through your employer doesn’t mean you’re adequately covered. Scaturro cites LIMRA data that shows that American households currently have a $200,000 life insurance needs gap. “If 60 percent of people have life insurance and 33 percent of those have group life insurance only, one in five people only have group coverage, which usually doesn’t provide enough,” he says.
Most employer-sponsored coverage provides either a set death benefit, such as $50,000, or a multiple of your base income, and many plans aren’t portable. That means, without a separate individual policy, it could be costly or too late to get coverage if you leave your job.
So, sign up for your employer’s low-cost or free life insurance, but don’t stop there. USAA believes you need enough life insurance to replace five years of your income, plus cover all debts. To determine how much coverage you need, take advantage of a free online calculator, like the one provided by USAA at USAA.com/life.
Protect Your Family
Families are especially vulnerable following the death of a primary wage earner. In fact, 35 percent of households would feel the financial impact within a month, according to research from LIMRA. That figure rises to nearly 50 percent at six months. How will your spouse pay for extra child care? Can they afford to keep the house? Will your children’s needs be covered?
Experts say that it’s important to review your life insurance needs, discuss them with your loved ones, speak to a financial professional and take action.