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Life and Health


By June 1, 2009No Comments

The goal of Life insurance is to ensure your family is protected financially if something were to happen to you. If your loved ones depend on your income, they could find themselves in serious financial stress if that cash flow was suddenly cut off.

Unfortunately, too many consumers mistakenly believe that they have enough Life insurance — when in actuality, they are severely underinsured.

Just look at the numbers: Americans have a combined $10 trillion worth of Life insurance coverage, according to a 2008 study by the American Council of Life Insurers. That June seem like an incredible amount of insurance — however, it’s still not enough. As a matter of fact, $10 trillion represents only 72% of our nation’s combined annual income, which totals a whopping $14 trillion.

Delving deeper than the lump sum

When you look at your coverage as a lump sum, it might seem like a lot of money. However, it’s important to consider that lump sum in relation to your annual income.

When determining whether or not you have enough insurance, ask yourself a few important questions: How much do I earn each year? How many years would I want my family to be covered if something were to happen to me? How much is going to be enough to cover all of their expenses? What standard of living do I want them to have?

The answers to these questions might lead you to a realization: That you don’t have enough Life insurance.

Calculating the right amount.

There are a few different ways to calculate the amount of Life insurance you need to protect your family adequately. Some insurance experts say you should simply multiply your annual income by three, while others say you need at least eight times your annual salary.

However, many professionals say this “income multiplication” method is not accurate enough. Because each family faces a unique set of circumstances and needs, you might want to consider some factors other than just annual income. Figuring out the right amount of Life insurance requires a comprehensive evaluation.

Here are a few things to take into consideration:

  • Monthly expenses: Tally up all your family’s monthly expenses, including your mortgage payment, car payments, utilities, groceries, food, clothing and any other costs. The death benefit on your Life insurance policy should be able to cover these expenses for at least a few years. This will ensure that your family will not undergo a decreased standard of living if you were to die.
  • Surviving parent’s income: If something were to happen to you, would your spouse need to work to support your children? This could be a problem if you have young children or a disabled child who needs extra attention. This will ensure that the surviving parent doesn’t have to work — or at least not until your children are older.
  • College tuition: Do you want to fund your children’s college education? If so, you should also factor this into your Life insurance calculation. It would probably be difficult for the surviving parent to pay college tuition on a single income.
  • Factoring in inflation: Don’t forget to consider the cost of inflation. You can expect cost of living to increase about 4% to 5% each year. That means if you purchased a Life insurance policy many years ago, the death benefit might not be enough to pay for today’s cost of living — let alone tomorrow’s.

Figuring out how much Life insurance you need to protect your family is a complex process that involves considerable research and thought. If you’re struggling to figure out how much Life insurance is enough, consider meeting with one of our experts. We can help you to determine how much insurance you need and what you can realistically afford.