Thursday, 15 April 2010

Life insurance quotes for whole, universal and variable policies

The distinction made by the insurance industry is between term and permanent life insurance. So you either buy a policy for a fixed term of years which then expires, or the policy is "permanent", i.e. it usually stays valid and enforceable during your life. The other elements of permanence cover the premium rate which can remain the same throughout your life and the terms of the policy which continue to apply regardless of any change in your health or other circumstances. Never liking to leave anything really simple and straightforward, the industry then divides policies into three basic types.

The first is the so-called whole life policy which many consider the most appropriate because the insurers tend to offer minimum guarantees. Why are guarantees useful? For someone aged in their twenties, it is difficult to predict what will happen over the next fifty years (allowing for the average life expectancy). Despite the fact that stock markets have shown steady growth over time, this is partly due to inflation. The buying power of the dollar today will be worn away by price increases, so the numbers representing stock values have to keep rising to keep pace. This is not an increase in real values. It simply prevents a loss of value. So, if an insurer today guarantees you a minimum rate of return over your lifetime, and that rate is better than inflation, it looks a good deal to take it. Better the known than the unknown.

The second type of policy is the universal which offers more flexibility, allowing you to vary the amount you pay into the fund according to changes in your financial circumstances. When you are new to the world of employment, pay is low and so you start with a low premium rate. As your pay increases, you increase the premium rate. If there is a family emergency, you can elect not to pay for a period of time. The key difference is that a whole life policy collects and adds dividends to the cash value, whereas the universal simply pays interest on the cash in hand. Despite this, there are minimum values guaranteed but they tend to be lower than the guaranteed amounts in whole life policies.

The third type of policy, the variable, appeals to those with a higher risk appetite. It gives you more control over the investments. Some insurers do offer you guidance on investment strategies, but the price of your management is you take responsibility for generating the returns. The insurer does not give anything more than a token guaranteed minimum for the benefits payable to your dependents.

As suggested in previous articles, the promise of growth in cash value, whether through investment or the payment of interest, is something of a smokescreen. When you are going through the life insurance quotes to decide which policy might represent the best buy for you, do not focus on the investment opportunities.

Analyze the life investment quotes to find the policies offering permanence on the best terms. What you should consider is the possibility of problems with your employment. Is there a way you can keep the policy in place if you cannot afford to pay the same level of premium? Some allow you to convert the policy to one fully-paid-up, using the cash value to buy future years. Others allow you to suspend payment for a period. Since your main purpose should be protecting the interests of your dependents, keeping the policy in place is the most important factor.


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