Do you need to update your life insurance protection? You may be surprised to learn that your existing policies are no longer sufficient to meet your needs.
If you’re like many people, you probably took care of your life insurance years ago. You bought as much coverage as you felt you needed, and then you stashed the contract in a drawer or safe somewhere and pretty much forgot about it. But it would be unusual if your family financial situation hadn’t changed significantly since then. For example, you might now have too little insurance if you’ve added another child or two to your brood. But it could also work the other way. If your children have left the family nest or you’ve retired, you may be able to cut the amount of your coverage.
Now is as good a time as any to dust off that old policy and review it. You may find it doesn’t reflect one or several major life events you’ve experienced since you acquired the coverage. Those might include:
- You have married, divorced, or separated;
- There has been a birth, death, disability, marriage, or divorce involving someone else in your family;
- One or more of your children has completed college or graduate school;
- You bought or sold your principal residence, a vacation home, or investment real estate;
- You switched jobs, started your own business, or retired; or
- There has been a big shift in your financial or business circumstances.
Other family changes could also have an impact. For instance, you may have taken on the care of an elderly or disabled relative, thus adding to your financial commitments and increasing the amount of replacement income that would be needed if you died. Meanwhile, if you’ve paid off your mortgage, you may be able to reduce your coverage.
When you review your policy, examine it as if you were buying life insurance for the first time. It’s your projections for the future that are the crucial factors—not the way things were a few years earlier. And don’t forget to review all of your life insurance policies, including any group coverage you get through your employer (or your spouse’s employer), taking into account recent estate tax law changes.
The amount of coverage you need is likely to drop as you get older, and you may eventually decide you can do without life insurance, though it could also play a role in your estate plan. Also, consider the return you may receive on cash value, especially with whole life policies. What’s certain is that your financial situation will continue to evolve, so it makes sense to make an insurance review a regular event—if you mark it on your calendar each year, you won't forget to conduct this important checkup.