Term life insurance provides valuable coverage at an affordable price and can help cover specific financial responsibilities like a mortgage.  This simple solution to your family’s peace of mind also comes with some valuable information to be aware of.

What is the grace period for paying a bill?

Your policy typically has a 31 day grace period.  This means that if a premium is not paid on or before the due date, it may be paid during the 31 days following the due date.  During the grace period, the insurance will stay inforce (active) but if a claim is made the premium owed may be deducted from the benefit amount payable to your beneficiary.

What happens to my premium at the end of my term policy?

The premiums you pay are set at the beginning of your coverage and are guaranteed to remain the same for the term length you selected regardless of any changes to your health or financial status.  At the end of the term period the premiums will be based on higher renewal rates and usually increase significantly.

Most insurance carriers provide an option called “conversion” which allows you to convert your term policy to a permanent plan of coverage possibly locking in a premium amount for the rest of your life.  The new premium would be calculated based upon your current age and coverage duration.  Conversion does not require a new medical exam and can’t be affected by any change in your health as long as you exercise this option before attaining a certain age or year in the policy as determined by carrier.

Is term life insurance taxable?

Term life insurance is not taxable if the death benefits are payable to a named beneficiary (a real person).  However, there are several situations where term life insurance proceeds may become taxable:

  • Estate named as beneficiary:  The death benefits proceeds may be considered part of your estate and could be subject to federal or state estate taxes.
  • Third party ownership:  This occurs when a person (the policy owner) buys a policy on another person (the insured) who then designates another person as the beneficiary.  For example, if a parent buys a policy on their child who then designates his or her spouse as beneficiary. The spouse could be seen as receiving the insurance proceeds as a gift which might be taxable.

We recommend that when in doubt you consult with your tax advisor as to any potential tax implications.  Also important to note the policyowner has the option of changing the beneficiary at a later date.

What is a contestability period?

Most life insurance policies have a two-year contestability period.  This means during the first two years after the issue of your policy, if it is found you misrepresented information on your application the insurance company can cancel your coverage or deny a claim.  Because the cost of premiums for life insurance is based on your age and medical history, some people may intentionally misrepresent certain aspects of their health and lifestyle, such as hiding facts related to a hazardous occupation, risky hobbies or unhealthy habits.  Also during the first two years of your policy the insurance company will not pay the death benefit in the event of a suicide.  After the two-year period has passed, the policy will pay out even if the cause of death is suicide and any non-fraudulent misrepresentation had been made.


Photo credit to Denise Krebs


Related Posts:

How to Designate Beneficiaries on Your Life Insurance Policy

What if I Can’t Pay My Term Life Insurance Premiums on Time?

What Is Life Insurance Underwriting?

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