5 tips for buying life insurance that pays out when you need it to.

How much money exactly would be immediately available to my family if (God forbid) something happened to me? This is a question that haunted me for years until I had my daughter – then decided to do something about it and buy some life insurance.

Best decision I ever made. I cannot quantify the peace of mind I got from knowing that my daughter’s future would be relatively secure – should anything happen to me.

We all desire for our loved ones to continue living their best lives even after we are gone – but our weakness lies in not knowing when “after we are gone” will be.

This is where life insurance comes in. People purchase life insurance for various reasons – protecting loved ones, making funds available for education and treatment in the event of critical illness, covering funeral expenses etc.

Regardless of what your reason is for wanting life insurance, you will find these 5 tips very valuable when considering signing up for a life insurance policy.

Look before you leap

  1. Don’t just buy the first policy you find – take out the time to consult different insurance agents/brokers. Ask questions about the company you are considering – their liquidity, track records of claims settlement,  their claim process etc. Inquire about details of the product(s); the terms and conditions, the extent of cover, what it will cost to terminate/cancel a policy, premium – the money you pay to the insurance company to buy life insurance – payment options etc. Be wary of agents who are motivated to sell only one type of plan from a particular company.
  2. Don’t jump on the cheapest policy you find. Your highest criteria for selection should be the company’s reputation for paying out for claims when applied for. Remember, cheap stuff may turn out to be more expensive than you bargained for in the long run.

Understand your options

For starters, it is important to know that not all life insurance policies are the same, and life policies differ from company to company. Therefore, you need to know exactly what type of cover you are seeking.

For example, pure risk plans only payout on the death of the insured, while whole life plans payout on the maturity of the policy or earlier death of the insured. Furthermore, some policies will pay out when the insured is diagnosed with a critical medical condition e.g. cancer.

It is also important for you to find out what riders are available on each policy. A rider isn’t someone hitching a ride on your insurance policy, but rather it is a policy provision which adds extra benefits to, or changes the terms of your existing policy. Some insurance policies make provisions for riders as optional extras available at an additional cost, with a small fraction of the premium charged for regular coverage. With this, the policy is extended to cover circumstances it would not have previously covered – ultimately ensuring that you are adequately covered on all fronts.

Don’t wait too long to buy

One of the single biggest mistakes people make when purchasing life insurance is thinking they can buy later, or even that they do not need life insurance because they are “too young”.

The truth is that the two most important factors that determine the cost of your life insurance policy are your age and the state of your health. The older you are, the higher your premium. The more unhealthy you are, the higher your premium also – so the best time to get life insurance is actually when you are young and healthy, especially is you are planning on starting a family.

Take a holistic approach – cover where you are most exposed

One of the biggest mistakes people make when buying a life insurance policy is buying insurance that leaves them under-insured or over-insured.

If you are under-insured when the inevitable happens, the payout may not be enough to cater for your family’s financial need. This may expose your family and dependents to financial tragedy. In the same vein, if you are over-insured, you may be paying unnecessarily high life insurance costs which may leave other financial commitments underfunded. Understand your family and dependents’ financial needs and purchase a life insurance policy with the next 20 to 30 years in mind.

Remember to take advantage of riders to cover where you are most exposed – accidental death, critical illness, loss of employment and waiver of premium.

Dot your I’s and cross your T’s

Life insurance is based on the principle of utmost good faith. This means that the insurer trusts that you will disclose fully and to the best of your knowledge all relevant facts.

These facts are what the insurer would use to determine whether or not to accept to insure your risk (your life, in this case), determine the appropriate premium and at what terms and conditions. Such facts include your current state of health, your age, occupation etc. Even if you are in doubt over whether a fact is material or not, it is better to state it. This is because by taking up a life insurance policy, you have given your insurer the right to some of your confidential details, e.g. your medical records. You (or your beneficiaries) will appreciate these when there’s a claim request to pay-out if any insured events do occur.

For most people, buying life insurance policy is an important once-in-a-lifetime decision. So, when you want to buy, these tips will come in handy to protect you from making wrong decisions that may haunt you or your beneficiaries in the future.

Sadiq Lekan is a freelance writer passionate about life insurance, health and wellness. He can be reached at lekan@lekansadiq.com

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