What Is Life Insurance and Do I Need It?


Life insurance products can be complicated, and because they often come with high commissions for the people selling them, it can be hard to know what to buy and who to trust when you are making that decision. The place to start is to think about whether and why you need life insurance. The most basic reason is if you have an obligation or need to provide income replacement for others who depend on you. That means if you have anyone dependent on you, get some kind of life insurance--as I like to say here “insurance, says I love you.”


The type of life insurance you should buy depends on your family goals and circumstances. The two main types of insurance you’ll hear about are "term" and "whole life."


Term Insurance


Term insurance is in effect for a specific period of time and if you do not die during that period, the insurance doesn’t pay. For example, you may have a 10-year term policy. Each year, you pay your premium and if you don’t die during that year, you’ve lost the premium (but gained your life, which is nice!) Because it is a 10-year term, the rate will remain the same for 10 years, at which point you have to re-apply for the insurance, which means full application and health exam and a rate increase because you are 10 years older.


Whole Life Insurance


In contrast, whole life is designed to be in effect until death. That means that no matter when you die, if your policy is paid up, your insurance will pay out. Whole life policies have an investment component that accumulates a cash value while also guaranteeing a death benefit. So each year that you pay your premium and don’t die, part of the premium you paid is gone, but part of it is allocated to the investment part of your policy, which means you are building up an investment.


Here’s the thing about that … sometimes (often?) insurance is not the best investment vehicle, primarily because of how much of the premium goes to pay commissions on the policy rather than to your investment account.


But, if your spouse or child or business is going to need insurance when you die, you will want to get a permanent, whole life type policy.


The bottom line with life insurance is to make sure you realistically assess your needs and then purchase an amount of insurance that meets that need.


This article is a service of the Law Office of Keoni Souza, LLC, an estate planning law firm in Honolulu, Hawaii. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, ™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by contacting our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.


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All information available on this website is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. You should contact an attorney directly regarding your specific situation. The use of and access to this website or the transmission of information via email or through this website does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Law Office of Keoni Souza, LLC and any users or any other party. Transmission of information via email or through this website may not be secure, therefore confidentiality cannot be assumed.  By using this website or transmitting information via email or this website, the user agrees to this information being collected, stored, or transmitted to a third-party.

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