Term Life Insurance
If, as stated by LifeHealthPro.com, “2014 was the year of heightened regulatory scrutiny,” for the life insurance industry, 2015 may be the year of back to basics. Term life insurance, once thought of as the poor man’s insurance, is poised to make a huge comeback in 2015. Industry-wide, the trend since 2013 has been to convert newer term universal life products back into traditional term life insurance. Were life insurers prescient, or just lucky when making that decision?
Following President Obama’s State of the Union address on Wednesday, when the Commander-in-chief brought forth a broad domestic and corporate tax overhaul, the tax advantages of term life insurance cannot be overstated, especially for those in the uppermost tax brackets. No matter the make-up of someone’s portfolio, however, term life insurance can have an important and potentially lucrative role to fill. From the young to the old, the middle-class to the upper class, term life insurance could stand between a death and financial hardship.
Term life sounds like it’s one simple type of policy, but in fact it is the umbrella classification for a whole host of products. This allows term life policies to be almost tailor-made to each purchaser’s needs. Term life is a fully different type of policy from that of universal life (indexed or not), or whole life insurance, but the basic idea is the same; the customer pays regular premiums to the insurer and should he die while the policy is in force, the insurer is obligated to pay his beneficiary or beneficiaries a pre-determined lump-sum amount. It used to be assumed among insurers that term life was best sold to younger customers, and that is still true, but in “the new normal,” post Great Recession, it can play a role in everyone’s financial plans.
What whole life and universal life (permanent insurance) offer are financial instruments that once paid remain in force for the entirety of someone’s life. Their premiums are often lump-sum payments and significantly higher, especially early in, than that of a term life policy, but because once the investment has been made, it is made, they can be used as security for loans and leveraged in a variety of ways to free up liquid capital, and their cash value is tax deferred.
Term life rarely offers such liquidity because it is purchased for a specific period of time only, the term from which the product draws its name. The premiums are much lower and the credit requirements of the purchaser also less stringent because the customer is assuming a greater risk than with a whole life policy—that if they die it will be within the pre-specified term. If the customer does not die during the term, they receive no benefit from having purchased the policy.*
However, as author Tony Steuer states in his 2010 book, Questions and Answers on Life Insurance, “Term insurance is generally agreed to be an excellent short-term solution to a temporary need for life insurance coverage […]” The number of reasons someone might require or opt to purchase temporary life insurance are nearly as varied as the individuals themselves; from young people first asserting financial independence to entrepreneurs, from empty nesters with children in college, and a plethora of others, term life insurance may be just the ticket.