A few weeks ago, a company called HealthIQ that celebrates health-conscious people with social and financial rewards, contacted me to create a quiz about millennials and life insurance. Yes, I can now add professional quiz writer to my resume! Since then, I have been reflecting on what happens to our loved ones financially when we pass on. This also came around the time a classmate of mine from high school passed away suddenly from a random heart complication leaving his fiancé and young daughter to pick up the pieces. One day you are living life and YOLOing and the next moment….well, you know how that goes. I am no longer in the headspace of thinking I am invincible, which means it is time for me to get a plan for my family in case the worst happens. Apparently, that means I’m growing up. While doing my research for my quiz, which you can take here, I realized there are several benefits to buying life insurance at an early age and right now millennials are in the best position to take advantage. While it is not a cheerful conversation to have, it is a necessary one and one that can protect those who depend on you and your income should the worst-case scenario happen. Since many millennials are delaying marriage and children, it is easy to say that there is no benefit of buying life insurance; however, that is not the case. Other dependents such as parents who co-signed a loan or business partners for the millennial entrepreneurs out there also depend on you and your income and will be left with a great financial burden of debt, your funeral expenses, and trouble covering living expenses if proper measures are not in place.
What Is Life Insurance?
If you ask my new insurance agent, he would tell you that life insurance is a “love policy”. I, however, prefer the explanation from Fidelity, which explains that, a life insurance policy as “a contract with an insurance company. In exchange for premium payments, the insurance company provides a lump-sum payment, known as a death benefit, to beneficiaries upon the insured’s death”. To bring it to terms that we can all understand, it is what GoFundMe has become when loved ones pass. I have to say this, but GoFundMe should not be your go to plan to cover the funeral expenses of a loved one or to cover the financial burden that you may leave to your family.
Do Millennials Need Life Insurance?
Yes and yes. It will be easier to understand once you break things down by life stages. Millennials make up the awesome generation of people who are born between 1982-2002 which means that older millennials could be in the home buying, marriage, and kids stage while younger millennials are in the college life and first real job stage. So do all millennials need life insurance? The answer to that will depend on whom you ask. I believe everyone should have life insurance that at least covers one’s funeral expenses. Now in terms of a larger payout, known as a death benefit, I think that depends on who relies your income. To determine if you need life insurance, financial expert and writer, Suze Orman, presents this question for you to ask yourself: “If I were to die today (or if my spouse/partner were to die today), will those I/we support be able to take care of themselves? If the answer is no, then you need life insurance”. Let’s be honest here, the subject of life insurance is morbid, boring, and a bit off-putting, but it is a necessary conversation that needs to be had by all.
5 Things Every Millennial Should Know About Life Insurance
If Your Parent Is a Cosigner On Your Student Loans. A few years back, I remembered hearing a story about a grieving father who was struggling to pay his dead son’s student loan debt. During the height of his grief and after paying for funeral expenses, debt collectors began to harass him regarding his son’s missed student loan payment. That was the first time I remember learning that your debts don’t always go away when you pass. I thought about that Dad and then I thought about my own. So what happens to your student loan debt if you pass away? If you have Federal student loans, your loans will be discharged and your family will not be responsible for your debt. Parents with Parent PLUS loan borrowers are also eligible loans to have their loans discharged in the event of the student’s death since it is also a Federal loan. To receive the discharge, the surviving cosigner must submit a copy of the death certificate to their loan provider. However, if you have private loans, your family may inherit your debt, which for the class of 2016 is an estimated $37,172 and growing. According to this article from CNBC, “Even if your spouse doesn’t co-sign for you, he or she can also be held liable for a private student loan if you borrow while married and you reside in a community property state”.
If You Are a Single Parent.
While millennials are delaying getting married, a recent poll from Gallup reveals that almost half of surveyed millennials age 34 have children although they have never been married. Because of their single status, many parents elect their minor children to receive the death benefit to financial protect their children if something were to happen. Making a minor a beneficiary will cause major problems since life insurance companies do not payouts to children under the age of 18 or their guardians. If you are a single parent, you should consider setting up a trust to benefit the child and naming that trust as the beneficiary. This way, you can avoid costly court fees and you can have things managed based on the directions you have left in your trust.
If You Have Life Insurance Through Your Employer.
Congratulations, you have a real job with real benefits! I am so proud of you. Now it is time to go through and fully understand the scope of your benefits package. Many employers offer life insurance as a part of their benefits package, but is that enough? Something else, I would like you to consider is how long you plan to stay with your current company. According to a Gallup report, 21% of millennials have changed jobs within the past year. Employee life insurance is provided as a group life plan and when you leave your job, you are no longer a member of the “group”. Your former employer is no longer obligated to pay the premium; therefore, your coverage is terminated unless you convert your policy to an individual plan, often at a higher rate. Your best bet is to get an individual term policy in addition to your employer-based policy so that you will be covered.
If You Think Life Insurance is a Financial Investment.
Life insurance is NOT a financial investment. Let me say that again. Life insurance is NOT a financial investment But what about cash value life insurance, you ask?
That’s not what your agent told you, is it? The good folks over at Investopedia define cash life insurance as “a type of life insurance policy that pays out upon the policyholder’s death, and also accumulates value during the policyholder’s lifetime”. Sounds good, right?
Well not so fast… The idea of investing is appealing… even sexy to most millennials (or is that just me?) but insurance as an investment is a terrible idea that yields a very low return. If you are looking to invest your money or save your money, there are much better options out there like mutual funds, Roth IRAs, stocks, and bonds. Suze Orman maintains, “Under no circumstances do you want ‘cash-value insurance’ no matter how fabulous the agent makes it sound”. My financial guru, Dave Ramsey, agrees. Ramsey argues, “It is a horrible product that makes insurance companies the most money, which means insurance salespeople get the best commission on this trash”. I am inclined to agree with them both. Insurance is insurance and your investments are investments. Does life insurance provide financial protection for your family? Yes. Is the “investment” component of a cash life policy, also referred to as whole life, universal life, and variable life, a good investment? Absolutely not. If you have this type of policy, you should cancel it and thank me later.
If You Don’t Know Where to Start.
Many people know the importance of life insurance but have not taken the plunge. For the millennials out there, you will never be as young as you are right now in this moment. Why not take advantage of the financial benefits of buying life insurance while you are young and in presumably good health. Millennials with a clean bill of health will find qualifying for coverage easier and more affordable, think less than $300.00 for the year for a $500,000 policy. So what type of policy do you recommend? Millennials looking to buy into a life insurance policy should consider a term insurance policy because the policy length can be tailored to your needs, it’s affordable, and you can lock in your rate while you are young. The maximum term for a life insurance policy is generally 30 years. Since premiums never get cheaper, millennials can get an upper hand on their finances by locking in a lower rate for the maximum term.
I recently read something from Dave Ramsey that completely changed how I think of all of this… adulting. “The death rate for human beings is 100 percent. You are going to dies someday! None of us know when that’s going to happen, but that doesn’t mean it should catch us totally unprepared”. Yes, you can still enjoy your youth while protecting your future. That’s why I have recently jumped on the life insurance bandwagon. Last week the Mr. and I met our agent in person to talk about our options and I encourage you to do the same.