How Long Can You Keep Term Life Insurance
How long you can keep your term life insurance policy depends on several factors, which should be specified in the contract. That may include the following:
- Term length: The driving factor when it comes to how long you can keep your policy is the specified term length. This is the time period during which your coverage is effective. This period typically ranges from five to 30 years, increasing in five-year increments.
- Renewability: Many term policies are renewable to extend your term to as long as 35 or 40 years. If you opt for a yearly renewable policy, its renewable each year according to guidelines set forth in your contract. If your policy features guaranteed renewability, it means you can renew your policy without additional underwriting steps.
- Evidence of insurability: When purchasing term policies, the amount of coverage available to you may rely on your age and estimated retirement date. Many insurance companies want evidence that you qualify financially for the coverage terms you’ve requested.
Consider Adding Riders To Your Policy
Again, add only the riders you truly need to enhance or tailor your coverage.
The Insurance Information Institute recommends looking into a waiver of premium rider, which pays your premium if you become disabled. Another rider to consider is the return of premium rider, which refunds the premiums you’ve paid toward the policy at the end of the term.
Take The Next Step Now To Ensure You Dont Go Without Coverage
If you want to extend or convert your current term policy, talk to your life insurance company, agent, or broker well before it expires. Make sure to find out about the types of life insurance policies available, costs involved, and if youre thinking of conversion, what specific options are available to you. If you have a portable term life policy that you bought through your employer or youre not sure who the financial representative or broker was take a look at your policy and contact the company directly.
If youre thinking of getting a new policy, shop around a bit. A good place to start: get an instant quote from Guardian using our calculator. If you have an agent or financial professional, you can also speak with them.
Another option is to check with your HR department to see if group term life insurance coverage is available through your company. While the benefit may be limited, it could be enough for your current needs and the rates will likely be attractive.
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Convert Your Term Life Insurance To Permanent Life Insurance
This is another solid option. I would recommend this choice for those that may have either had this in mind all along, or just wanted to take advantage of the relatively inexpensive rates of term life insurance for a while, but understand the need for a permanent option.
Like we mentioned before, this isnt always allowed. It will come down to the type of policy you have, what company you purchased your policy through, and other factors.
How Long Do You Need To Provide Financial Support For Your Family
If youre taking out life insurance to help make sure your family will be taken care of financially after your death, you should consider aligning the term with the point at which you believe your family will be able to manage the household budget without you. For example, you might want cover to last long enough to help your children complete full time education.
If you expect your partner to remain financially dependent for longer than this, you might also want to build that into your calculations.
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Convert To A Permanent Policy
Your term policy may also include a provision for converting to a whole life or universal life policy, again without a physical exam. The new insurance policy could continue for the rest of your life or for as long as you need it. The premium on your new policy will be higher than you have been paying for term insurance, but you may have the option of converting to a policy with a smaller death benefit in return for a lower premium if that works best for you.
Policies differ in terms of when you can make this switch , so youll need to check your policy or get in touch with your insurance company or agent to find out.
Buy A New Term Policy
Term insurance prices have dropped over the past 20 years because of competition, the ease of comparing rates online, and medical advances that have led to longer life spans. You may be able to get a new policy that locks in a rate for 10 years or more and doesnt cost much more than your current coverage. For example, a healthy 57-year-old man could buy a 10-year term policy that would provide $500,000 in coverage for about $1,151 a year. Or he could buy a 20-year term policy for about $2,050 a year, says Udell.
Hilary and David Graf bought 20-year term policies when they had their first childand then they had five more kids. When their policies were about to expire five years ago, they were supporting most of their kids, who ranged in age from 15 to 22.
As a personal finance teacher at a high school near Richmond, Va., Hilary understood the importance of life insurance, and the couple started shopping for new policies. We realized we were grossly underinsured, she says. The Grafs worked with AccuQuote and found a Transamerica term policy with living benefits that would let them access cash from the death benefit early for certain medical conditions. Hilary bought a $750,000 20-year policy for about $1,600 a year, and David bought a similar policy for about $1,800 per year. You dont think youre going to need it, but if something happens, youre covered, she says.
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Benefits Of Term Life Insurance
Term life insurance is attractive to young people with children. Parents may obtain large amounts of coverage for reasonably low costs. Upon the death of a parent, the significant benefit can replace lost income.
These policies are also well-suited for people who temporarily need specific amounts of life insurance. For example, the policyholder may calculate that by the time the policy expires, their survivors will no longer need extra financial protection or will have accumulated enough liquid assets to self-insure.
Can I Convert Term Life Insurance To A Permanent Policy
It depends on your policy. Many term life insurance plans offer policyholders the option to convert coverage to a permanent policy. Because the process typically doesnt require additional underwriting steps and you maintain your initial underwriting class if you convert, this option may be simpler than purchasing a brand-new policy. However, it’s usually governed by terms set forth in your original insurance agreement, so be sure to read through your contract for conversion specifics, such as the ones listed below:
- Conversion periods: If your policy permits conversion, you may need to do so during a specified conversion period. For example, if you have a 20-year policy, you may only be permitted to convert during the first ten years.
- Conversion percentages: Depending on your policy, you may be able to convert the full value of your policy or opt to convert only a portion of it. Converting only a portion of your term life insurance to a permanent policy may result in reduced premiums.
- Premium credits: Some insurers offer policyholders a credit for premiums paid toward their term policy if they convert to a permanent plan within a specified time period. These credits may be used to offset the premiums of the new permanent policy.
- Policy type: Some insurers may specify the type of policy available during the conversion. For example, you may only be able to convert your plan into a universal or whole life policy.
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What Happens When Term Life Insurance Expires
While term coverage is often purchased assuming that any dependents will be grown and financially independent by the time it expires, that is not always the case.
Generally, when term life insurance expires, the policy simply expires, and no action needs to be taken by the policyholder. A notice is sent by the insurance carrier that the policy is no longer in effect, the policyholder stops paying the premiums, and there is no longer any potential death benefit. If the policyholder had a return-of-premium policy, a check would be sent for the amount paid into the policy throughout its term.
The exception is if there is a term conversion rider on your policy, which allows the policyholder to convert the term policy to a permanent insurance policy as you near the end of the term without going through the underwriting process again. This option may be worth considering for people who need coverage but whose health has declined and who do not want to have a medical exam.
Should You Buy A New Term Life Policy
Sometimes, the least expensive option for keeping your life insurance coverage in force is to apply for a new term life policy. You can either apply to the same company utilizing their Exchange or Re-entry provision, or you can choose a different company.
There are no clear advantages to staying with the same company, as both applications will likely require an in-home life insurance exam to show you are still in good health.
We always advise people to shop around for the best rate, just as you did 10, 15, or 20 years ago.
Pros This is almost always the least expensive option, especially if you are under age 70.
Cons You have to prove you are still in good health . If your health has deteriorated, you may lose out on the cost savings or be denied coverage altogether.
So the three most likely options for you to continue coverage when your existing life insurance policy ends are:
Keep these options in mind as your term life insurance policy draws to a close. Remember to consult with your life insurance advisor at least a year in advance and together you can make an informed choice.
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Accelerated Death Benefit Rider
As an added bonus for all our term life policies, an Accelerated Death Benefit Rider is automatically included. Sometimes called ADB for short, this provision allows the policyholder the ability to request a portion of their death benefit in advance if they are diagnosed with a qualified terminal illness. Policyholders can use this benefit to cover medical expenses, funeral planning, or even a last wish or bucket list activity to help the family find closure in their time of need.
Choose Whole Life If You:
Can comfortably afford the higher premiums. Whole life insurance is a lifelong commitment, so you want to make sure you can afford it. If you miss your premium payments, your policy could lapse.
Want to leave money for your heirs. Because the death benefit pays out regardless of when you die, you can use it as an inheritance. If you name life insurance beneficiaries on your policy, the payout will go directly to them and not through your estate.
Have a lifelong dependent like a child with disabilities. Life insurance can fund a trust to provide care for your child after youre gone. Consult with an attorney and financial advisor before setting up a trust.
Want life insurance that builds guaranteed cash value. The cash value of whole life policies grows at a guaranteed rate set by the insurer.
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Buy A New Life Insurance Policy
You may want to compare rates from different companies and consider replacing your policy with a new one. This will mean a new application and possibly a life insurance medical exam. The downside of this option is that your new policy rates will be based on your current age and health. For example, if the 20-year term policy that you bought when you were 30 expired, your new rates will be based on your current age of 50. In addition, certain medical conditions may disqualify you from obtaining a new policy. So if you’re still in good health, shop around and consider applying for a new term or even a permanent policy.
Duration Of Coverage And Cost
Term life insurance coverage typically lasts for a specific period of time and is priced accordingly. That makes term life a fitting and affordable option for those who need coverage for, say, the duration of their mortgage or need to purchase a large coverage amount.
Term life insurance premiums are charged monthly over the duration of the term. Once the life insurance term ends, it can either be renewed or allowed to lapse.
- Medical history
If you develop a terminal illness or severe chronic disease and want to increase the amount of coverage for your policy, you probably won’t be able to do so unless you have a guaranteed insurability rider.
Similarly, getting a term life policy later in life could be more difficult and cost a lot more. If you’re over the age of 65, consider life insurance options for seniors.
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Affordable Life Insurance Policies
When it comes to life insurance policies, the cost is an important factor for many people. The good news is that term life is the most budget-friendly option available.
If you choose a shorter term, you will generally pay less in monthly premiums, but you risk not being covered as long as you need.
Youll want to be sure you choose an option that balances your need for coverage with your budget. And, life insurance is not as expensive as you might think. According to a recent LIMRA study, more than half of Americans overestimate its cost by as much as three times!
Term Vs Whole Life Insurance: Differences Pros And Cons
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The difference between term and whole life insurance can be boiled down to cost and length. Term life insurance is cheap when compared to whole life. It covers you for a set period of time and pays out if you die during the term. Whole life insurance lasts your entire life and has an investment account, which makes it a more complex and expensive product.
With either policy, your loved ones can spend the payout called the death benefit on a variety of costs, such as funeral expenses, mortgage payments, college tuition and more. But depending on your coverage needs, one type of life insurance may be a better fit than the other.
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Status: Youre Seeking A Small Policy For End
If your term policy is expiring and you have not qualified for simplified issue life insurance, but you want to have some coverage in place to help protect your loved ones, then a guaranteed issue life policy that isnt medically underwritten may be worth considering. This type of coverage is designed to help cover final expenses things like funeral costs, medical bills and credit card debt. The coverage level is usually capped at $25,000 or $50,000 depending on the insurer. A guaranteed issue policy is usually purchased by older, less healthy individuals, so premiums can be quite a bit higher. For example, a 60-year-old man might pay around $150 per month for $25,000 in coverage.
On the other hand, if youre healthy and want coverage thatll last a lifetime, a medically underwritten whole life insurance policy may be a better fit. And, you arent limited at $50,000 in coverage. Our parent company, MassMutual, sells whole life insurance and can be a resource for purchasing and pricing.
Example Of 20 Year Term Policy Before And After Maturity
We’ll use a male age 45 in our example who is looking for a $1 million death benefit. With one major life insurer, the 20 year guaranteed level premium is $1,415 per year. He can pay that same annual amount for 20 years and he’ll keep his $1 million death benefit. After year 20, his guaranteed level period expires and his new premium in year 21 jumps to $45,095. Here’s a ledger that details the increases in premium:
Here you can see, this coverage becomes substantially more expensive when the guaranteed level period expires. The policy owner is free to keep the policy going and continue to pay the new premium. He’ll keep his $1 million death benefit coverage if he continues to do this.
Alternatively, some companies now issue term policies that keep the premium level even after the guaranteed level period, but they adjust the death benefit to an amount that this smaller death benefit would buy at the newly attained age of the insured. Here’s an example of how this works:
In this case, the $1 million death benefit cost the insured $1,240 per year. After the 20th year, the premium remains the same, but the death benefit drops to $52,562. The policy owner has the option to keep his coverage at this new lower amount and pay the same premium. But notice that eventually, the premium increases even on this smaller death benefit amount.
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