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Life Insurance

Life insurance is something you should consider adding to your financial plan if you're interested in providing a measure of security for the ones you love. Proceeds from a life insurance policy can be used to pay final expenses, plan for children's education, eliminate outstanding debts, or cover day-to-day expenses.

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Life Insurance 101

Many financial experts consider life insurance to be the cornerstone of sound financial planning. It can be an important tool in the following situations:

 

1. Replace income for dependents

If your family depends on an individual’s income, life insurance can replace your income if the you die. The most common example of this is parents with children for things like daycare and education. Insurance to replace income can be especially useful if the government- or employer sponsored benefits of the surviving spouse or domestic partner will be reduced after their companion dies.

2. Pay final expenses
Life insurance can pay funeral and burial costs, probate and other estate administration costs, debts, and medical expenses not covered by health insurance.

3. Create an inheritance for heirs
Even those with no other assets to pass on, can create an inheritance by buying a life insurance policy and naming their heirs as beneficiaries.

4. Pay federal “death” taxes and state “death” taxes
Life insurance benefits can pay for estate taxes so that heirs will not have to liquidate other assets or take a smaller inheritance. Changes in the federal “death” tax rules between now and January 1, 2011 will likely lessen the impact of this tax on some people, but some states are offsetting those federal decreases with increases in their state-level estate taxes.

5. Make significant charitable contributions
By making a charity the beneficiary of their life insurance policies, individuals can make a much larger contribution than if they donated the cash equivalent of the policy’s premiums.

6. Create a source of savings
Some types of life insurance create a cash value that, if not paid out as a death benefit, can be borrowed or withdrawn on the owner’s request. Since most people make paying their life insurance policy premiums a high priority, buying a cash-value type policy can create a kind of “forced” savings plan. Furthermore, the interest credited is tax deferred (and tax exempt if the money is paid as a death claim).

There are 2 major types of life insurance - term and whole life

  • Bodily Injury Liability
    This coverage applies to injuries that the policyholder and family members listed on the policy cause to someone else. These individuals are also covered when driving other peoples’ cars with permission. As motorists in serious accidents may be sued for large amounts, drivers can opt to buy more than the state-required minimum to protect personal assets such as homes and savings.
  • Medical Payments or Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
    This coverage pays for the treatment of injuries to the driver and passengers of the policyholder’s car. At its broadest, PIP can cover medical payments, lost wages and the cost of replacing services normally performed by someone injured in an auto accident. It may also cover funeral costs.
  • Property Damage Liabilty
    This coverage pays for damage policyholders (or someone driving the car with their permission) may cause to someone else’s property. Usually, this means damage to someone else’s car, but it also includes damage to lamp posts, telephone poles, fences, buildings or other structures hit in an accident.
  • Collision
    This coverage pays for damage to the policyholder’s car resulting from a collision with another car, object or as a result of flipping over. It also covers damage caused by potholes. Collision coverage is generally sold with a deductible of $250 to $1,000—the higher the deductible, the lower the premium. Even if policyholders are at fault for an accident, collision coverage will reimburse them for the costs of repairing the car, minus the deductible. If the policyholder is not at fault, the insurance company may try to recover the amount it paid from the other driver’s insurance company. If the company is successful, policyholders will also be reimbursed for the deductible.
  • Comprehensive
    This coverage reimburses for loss due to theft or damage caused by something other than a collision with another car or object, such as fire, falling objects, missiles, explosions, earthquakes, windstorms, hail, flood, vandalism and riots, or contact with animals such as birds or deer. Comprehensive insurance is usually sold with a $100 to $300 deductible, though policyholders may opt for a higher deductible as a way of lowering their premium. Comprehensive insurance may also reimburse the policyholder if a windshield is cracked or shattered. Some companies offer separate glass coverage with or without a deductible. States do not require the purchase of collision or comprehensive coverage, but lenders may insist borrowers carry it until a car loan is paid off.
  • Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
    Uninsured motorist coverage will reimburse the policyholder, a member of the family or a designated driver if one of them is hit by an uninsured or a hit-and-run driver. Underinsured motorist coverage comes into play when an at-fault driver has insufficient insurance to pay for the other driver’s total loss. This coverage will also protect a policyholder who is hit while a pedestrian.

Don’t just stop at Life Insurance. Bundle auto and home insurance today and save even more. 

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