Buying life insurance is one of the most important purchases you will make, especially if you have a family. According to a LIMRA life insurance barometer study, it was discovered that over 40% of Americans don’t have any form of life insurance. A third of those who do have coverage have no more than $100,000.
These numbers are concerning. What’s preventing people from purchasing such an essential financial product? Is it cost? The unknown buying process?
Our theory is that life insurance can be intimidating and complicated without an expert in your corner, and this means that people make mistakes when they shop for it.
That’s where we come in. Let’s discuss common life insurance mistakes to avoid while you’re looking for coverage.
Mistake # 1 – Assuming Life Insurance is Too Expensive
First of all, people with no life insurance think it’s three times more expensive than it actually is. In reality, there’s a good chance that you’ll be paying less for a term life insurance policy than your cable bill.
Instead of just assuming it’s too expensive, run a quote. This is the most common of insurance mistakes to avoid.
» Compare for yourself: Term life insurance quotes
Mistake # 2 – Relying on a Group Insurance Policy
Group life insurance is a great benefit to take advantage of through your employer, but you can only collect on your group life insurance policy if you die while you’re still working. If you lose your job or get into an accident that puts you out of the workforce, however, all that coverage vanishes.
Additionally, most group life policies offer less than $100,000 in coverage. This money will definitely help your family pay for a funeral and a few end of life expenses, but if you have a mortgage or want money to help put your children through college, it probably won’t be enough.
Keeping a personal term life insurance policy that you can take with you as you change jobs or leave the workforce will ensure that your family isn’t stuck paying for everything out of pocket, and will give you a nice boost in coverage if you do die with a group life insurance policy.
Mistake # 3 – Procrastinating
One of the indisputable facts of the life insurance industry is that the younger you are, the cheaper your life insurance premiums will be.
As you age, the odds that you’ll develop medical issues increases, and once-minor accidents will begin to be more severe as you get older. It’s not fun to think about, but you’re also inching closer to old age every birthday.
Luckily, term life insurance can still be pretty affordable, even after age 50. If you have the option to pay $20 per month at age 30 versus $72 per month at age 50 for the exact same amount of coverage, however, it makes sense to buy early.
(Prices listed are for a 20 year, $500,000 policy for a healthy male at age 30 and 50)
See what you’d pay for life insurance
Mistake # 4 – Cheating on Your Application
It can be tempting to omit certain facts about your health, lifestyle, or family history to get lower premiums, but don’t do it. The insurance companies have access to Medical Information Bureau (MIB) reports.
The MIB is a storehouse of medical information that the life insurance industry can check if there’s a discrepancy in your medical information. When you apply for life insurance, you give the insurance company your medical history from your perspective.
They also collect your physical exam results from your application and medical records from your doctor as well. If the company notices any differences in these two records, they will get in touch with the MIB and look over even more of your records to fact check.
In these records from your health providers, it is very likely the missing information from your life insurance application would turn up. When the insurance company discovers the information, they simply raise your premiums to what they should have been all along. In extreme cases, they may decide to decline the application altogether if it’s revealed that you barely told the truth at all.
If you do get away with lying on your application and it’s approved, know that the insurance company has the right to investigate and deny death benefit claims during the first two years the policy is active. If it is discovered that you lied to get your policy, the insurance company can reduce or even completely deny any payout to your beneficiaries.
The best thing to do when applying for life insurance is to be honest and assume that everything you put on your application will be investigated.
Mistake # 5 – Not Buying Enough Coverage
Like we said before, $100,000 in coverage from a group life insurance policy may seem like a lot of money at first glance, but when you factor in the cost of your mortgage, child-raising costs, and college tuition, it suddenly isn’t very much at all. Buy as much term life insurance as you can comfortably afford.
If you need some help determining the right amount of life insurance coverage, check out our life insurance calculator. . It’s easy to use and will help reassure you that you’re buying the right amount of life insurance.
» Calculate: Life insurance needs calculator
Mistake # 6 – Improperly Designating Beneficiaries
You may think that assigning someone to get the life insurance money after you die is a no-brainer, but choosing beneficiaries can be a little trickier than that. The whole reason to own life insurance is so your income is replaced for the benefit of your beneficiaries. If it’s not set up properly, then it can become a mess.
We’ve written a lot about picking your beneficiaries. Check out our blog A Guide to Life Insurance Beneficiaries more helpful details.
Mistake # 7 – Not Reviewing and Updating Your Policy
Life insurance is not a set-it-and-forget-it financial product. Ideally, you want to review your policy every couple years and every time a significant event happens in your life, such as a marriage, divorce, birth, job change, home purchase, etc.
Reviewing and updating your policy is crucial to make sure it will still carry out your financial wishes if you’re no longer around.
Mistake # 8 – Not Shopping Around
Life insurance companies all look at applicants a little differently. For example, one company may offer you a term policy for $25 per month, another company may offer that same term length and coverage for only $18 per month because they think you’re less risky.
Quotacy isn’t tied to one insurance company, we’re an independent broker. This means that we can do all that shopping around for you behind the scenes.
When you decide to apply for life insurance at Quotacy, one of our agents will look over your application before we send it out to make sure you’re going to get the best price possible. If we find a less expensive option for you, we let you know and let you decide what you’d like to do.
Long story short, life insurance is a great product, but having an expert in your corner will help you get the coverage you need at an affordable price. Start by getting a free, anonymous (no contact information required) term life insurance quote today to remember the life insurance mistakes to avoid.
Watch the Life Insurance Mistakes to Avoid Video
About the writer
Natasha Cornelius, CLU
Senior Editor and Life Insurance Expert
Natasha Cornelius, CLU, is a writer, editor, and life insurance researcher for Quotacy.com where her goal is to make life insurance more transparent and easier to understand. She has been in the life insurance industry since 2010 and has been writing about life insurance since 2014. Natasha earned her Chartered Life Underwriter designation in 2022. She is also co-host of Quotacy’s YouTube series. Connect with her on LinkedIn.