Should I Buy My Life Insurance Through Work?

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Many employers offer basic life insurance to their employees as part of the employee benefits package. This life insurance policy is for a pre-determined, set amount—usually equivalent of one year's salary— and is offered at a very low cost or even free.

Though that may be enough coverage if you are single without children, many companies offer the option to purchase a supplemental life insurance policy, which you may consider if you are your family's primary earner or have children.

Learn about obtaining life insurance through your employer, its benefits, determining your coverage, plus if this is the best option for you.

The Drawbacks of Buying Life Insurance Through Your Job

While getting a life insurance policy through your employer may seem like the most convenient option, it's not without its drawbacks. If you were to lose your job, you would lose your life insurance coverage. You could also have a gap in coverage if you were to quit your job and find a new job. 

Another thing to consider is whether your company's standard life insurance policy is large enough if you have a spouse and other dependants. If not, you may have to purchase a supplemental policy from an outside entity. 

Benefits of Getting Life Insurance Through Your Job

If you have a preexisting medical condition such as diabetes, it may be more difficult to qualify for a traditional term life insurance policy. If this is the case, it would be beneficial to you to obtain a life insurance policy through your employer, since it's usually easier to get approved by your employer than an outside provider.

Another major benefit of getting life insurance through your employer is convenience. For example, you may know you need to get life insurance but simply haven't gotten around to it yet. Work-sponsored plans are a great solution to this. Lastly, the cost of a life insurance policy purchased through your employer is often much cheaper. Many are even free. 

Determining the Coverage You Need

Putting it simply, you need to buy enough life insurance to cover your obligations, like funeral costs, medical bills, and future living expenses for any dependents. For those with families and other dependents, a good rule of thumb is to have a term life policy of about ten times your annual income. In this case, a life insurance policy obtained through your employer should be considered a supplemental policy to another larger policy.  

Additionally, as your salary and living expenses increase, your life insurance coverage should also increase. However, once you have paid off your home and put your children through college, you may decide to reduce your policy amount.

On the other hand, when you are young, if you are unmarried, or have no dependents, you may not choose to carry life insurance at all until you start a family. If you do this, make sure you have enough set aside to cover your funeral costs and any outstanding debt, so it's not a burden to your friends and family.

Choosing a Life Insurance Policy

If you decide to not obtain life insurance through your employer, or if you are searching for a supplemental policy on top of what your workplace already offers, be sure to shop several different policies to get the best rate available. Keep in mind that life insurance providers will do a risk assessment when they insure you. You may be declined if you have a serious health condition, or you may be accepted but have a to pay a higher premium.

Term life offers the lowest rates and provides coverage for a certain time period, like 10, 20, or 30 years. Term life insurance policies have no cash value, and your beneficiaries only receive a payout if you die during that term. Once the term is up, you will have the option to renew your policy, often at a higher rate. You can also convert your term life insurance policy into a whole policy. 

Whole life insurance policies provide protection during your entire lifetime. They also accrue tax-free dividends, also known as the policy's cash value. You can also borrow against the amount of the policy. The premium also stays the same, though it's more expensive than a term life policy.

And remember: there is no excuse for not having life insurance if you have dependents, so start taking the steps today to protect yourself. 

Updated by Rachel Morgan Cautero