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How Much Life Insurance Do You Really Need?


When planning for the future, many people neglect to consider life insurance’s role in their financial strategies. In 2017, more than 4 in 10 people didn’t own a life insurance policy in any amount and 40% of those who do said they were under-insured. (1) When it comes to life insurance, most people have a vague idea that they should have it, but very few have a clear picture of what they really need. People frequently ask me, “How much life insurance do I need?” Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. But, there are a few things you can review and answer to help you evaluate your life insurance needs.

Do You Need Life Insurance?

The first question you need to answer is whether or not you even need life insurance in the first place. You’ll want to determine if you have enough money saved so that your death would not create a financial hardship for your loved ones. A single young adult with no dependents may not need life insurance if his loved ones can easily afford a funeral and burial. If you have several million dollars safely stored away, your death may not cause a financial hardship either, even if you still have a family depending on you.

If you don’t have enough money saved, you should purchase life insurance to protect your family in case you pass away. Even if you do have enough money saved, you may still want to consider purchasing life insurance for other benefits that it can provide, such as living benefits and diversification.

What Type Of Life Insurance Do You Need?

Along with knowing how much coverage you need, you’ll also need to choose the kind of life insurance that is most appropriate for your situation. The two primary types of life insurance are permanent and term.

Permanent Insurance

Permanent insurance is coverage that is not limited to a specific duration of time, meaning it can potentially last your entire life. There are several types of permanent insurance, including Universal Life, Indexed Universal Life, and Whole Life. The benefit of permanent insurance is that it can last longer than a term policy so that something will be paid to your beneficiary no matter when you die (assuming your policy has been funded properly). This type of insurance is more expensive than term insurance.

Term Insurance

Term insurance offers coverage for a specified length of time, which can be anywhere from 10 to 35 years in some cases. The downside to term insurance is that it only covers you for the specified period of time, so if you pass away after the term is over, no money is paid to your beneficiary. But depending on your situation, you may only need insurance for a specific term — until your kids are grown or you have enough money saved to avoid financial hardship. One of the major benefits of term insurance, as opposed to permanent, is that it is usually the most inexpensive out-of-pocket option.

How Much Life Insurance Do You Need?

Finally, the question at the forefront of your mind. You’ll want to conduct a Needs Analysis, which can help you understand how much coverage you would need to protect your family adequately. Two of the biggest factors that affect how much insurance you need are your marital status and your financial dependents.

If you’re single without anyone — child or parent — depending on you financially, you’ll want enough to cover funeral and burial costs. It’s also important to have enough to cover debts, because not all debts are discharged in death, such as private student loans.

If you’re married, use the DIME method to consider your needs:

  • Debt and final expenses
  • Income
  • Mortgage
  • Education costs

After calculating and totaling each of those dollar amounts, apply an income replacement multiplier to determine your needed coverage amount. The multiplier varies based on your age and the status of your home mortgage. For example, if you’re under 50 years old, you can likely use a multiplier of 20. Older couples may be able to use a multiplier of 10 or 15, depending on the number of years left on their mortgage.

Keep in mind that these are just guidelines designed to give you a general idea of the amount of insurance coverage you need. There may be adjustments for your particular situation and what makes the most sense for your family.

Stay-at-home parents can also benefit from life insurance. While they don‘t generate income, the services they provide would have to be purchased if they were to pass away. Many stay-at-home parents care for their children, cook, maintain the house, and more, so their spouse needs enough insurance coverage to pay someone else to do the same if they are gone.

How Should You Make a Decision?

Life insurance can be confusing and it’s difficult to know if your policy is doing what it’s intended and customized to your needs and circumstances. Through an insurance review, we can help you examine your policies in-depth so that you can feel more confident knowing your plans are on track and that you know what you’re paying for. If you are concerned about your life insurance policy or would like to schedule a review or discuss your options, call my office at (239) 204-4333 or email me at scott@mtagrp.com.

About Scott

Scott R. Schatzle, CFP® is a financial advisor and the owner of Mutual Trust Advisory Group, an independent, fee-only financial planning firm that specializes in helping successful individuals, families, and retirees. Scott brings more than 13 years of industry experience to the table, along with specialized training in and knowledge of comprehensive financial planning. Working closely with each of his clients, he strives to assist people in making smart decisions around their money and help them build and maintain wealth over time. Based in Estero, Florida, he works with clients in Estero, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, and Naples. To learn more about Scott and his firm’s services, call (239) 204-4333, email scott@mtagrp.com, or connect with him on LinkedIn.

Mutual Trust Advisory Group is registered as an investment advisor with the state of Florida and only conducts business in states where it is properly registered or is excluded from registration requirements. Registration is not an endorsement of the firm by securities regulators and does not mean the advisor has achieved a specific level of skill or ability.

All investments and strategies have the potential for profit or loss. There are no assurances that a client’s portfolio will match or exceed any particular benchmark.

This newsletter has been provided by Claire Akin of Indigo Marketing Agency for informational purposes and does not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security.  All expressions of opinion reflect the opinions of Claire Akin of Indigo Marketing Agency and not necessarily those of Mutual Trust Advisory Group.

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(1) https://www.bestliferates.org/blog/2017-life-insurance-statistics-and-facts/