You buy Life coverage to provide for your loved ones after your death. To make sure your beneficiaries receive what they’re owed, avoid these errors:
- Lying on your application. Truth hurts, but it can hurt even more if you lie on a Life insurance application. Although it might be tempting to deny that you’re a smoker, or have been treated for a particular disease or medical condition, doing so could make your policy null and void.
- Failing to make premium payments. Just because you miss a payment doesn’t mean your policy is dead. The insurance company will usually offer a 30 or 60-day grace period for payment, during which the policy will stay in effect.
- Not telling loved ones about your policy. Although this doesn’t mean the insurer won’t pay the beneficiaries after your death, it will make things more difficult for them. Most companies check databases for policyholder deaths, but not always in a timely manner. If you don’t give your beneficiaries policy information, some states have locator programs to help them check. The American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) website also provides tips for tracking policies.
- Not naming other beneficiaries. If your primary beneficiary dies ahead of you, the secondary beneficiary will receive the death benefit. If he or she passes away before you, the proceeds will go to the final beneficiary. If both deaths precede yours, the benefit will go to your estate.
- Suicide. In It’s a Wonderful Life, Jimmy Stewart thought (wrongly) that he was worth more dead than alive because his family could collect on his Life insurance. However, under the “suicide clause” in a Life policy, if a policyholder takes his or her own life during the first two years of coverage, the beneficiaries would receive only the premiums paid to that point.