How to know if you need to buy your own life insurance

How to know if you need to buy your own life insurance

Posted on March 31, 2023.

Your employer may offer life insurance, but you should get additional coverage in these situations.

If you’re lucky enough to receive a life insurance benefit from your employer, you might consider the matter settled. But that policy probably isn’t enough to adequately cover your needs as defined by most insurance industry experts.

“Any life insurance is better than no life insurance policy,” says Seattle-based certified financial planner and president of CEG Life Insurance Services Daniel Adams. “But having said that, if you can qualify elsewhere and you don’t have other health problems or concerns, it’s rarely going to be enough.”

Employer-provided policies usually provide you coverage equaling one year of your salary, according to financial services company Securian. But this may not be enough to help your financial dependents maintain their lifestyle after you’re gone.

While some experts suggest 10 times your salary as a rule of thumb for how much life insurance you need, Adams suggests calculating your own ideal coverage. “How much, if you were to pass away, does your family need on an annual basis, and for how long?” he says. “That’s just a simple math equation.”

Here are several situations where you should consider looking beyond your office for a life insurance plan.

You’re early in your career

Younger people tend to think they don’t need life insurance, but buying a policy early in life is a financially smart move to make.

That’s because (in general) the younger you are, the cheaper your life insurance premiums. “If you’re at a young age and [have] a healthy lifestyle, it’s much cheaper than even if you wait a few years,” Adams says. “Those prices are going to go up dramatically.”

According to data from insurance comparison site Policygenius, the typical 25-year-old male will pay $39.48 a month for a $500,000, 30-year term policy, while the typical 35-year-old will pay $46.42 for the same policy — a 16% increase. By age 45, that rate increases to $105.07 per month, or 77% more.

And, if you’re early in your career, there’s also a good chance that you’ll be moving jobs as your career progresses. “If you leave your job, whether that’s of your own free will or you get laid off, you lose that coverage,” Adams says.

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