Monday, December 30, 2019

What is better? Term insurance or whole life?

Couple looks to the future - Photo by Tatyana Kasova/Pixabay
One of the most frequently debated questions as it relates to financial planning and personal finance is debate surrounding what type of life insurance a family should have. Everyone seems to agree that life insurance itself is a good idea. However, when the question becomes whether to go for a term policy, which is only good for a set number of years, or for a whole life or universal life insurance policy that is permanent - well, it was an age old debate when I started working for Merrill Lynch back in the 1990s. More than 25 years later, this debate still hasn’t been settled.

I'm my opinion, the entire term insurance versus whole life debate boils down to two questions that everyone has to answer for themselves. There aren’t any purely right or wrong answers in this debate; only one that is right or wrong for your own unique circumstances.

The first question related to this life insurance debate is:can you afford to buy enough coverage to protect your family with a whole life policy?

If you can afford a whole life insurance policy that provides enough coverage to protect your family adequately, great. A whole life or universal life policy might actually be a good idea for you to consider. However, if you cannot afford as much coverage as you need with a whole life policy then, in my opinion, you have to go with a term policy.

In my professional opinion as an insurance agent who blogs about his neighborhood as a passion project, it is always better to have a term life policy that gives your family the coverage and protection that you need rather than a whole life policy that doesn’t.

The second question that I believe one should ask is: what would happen to your family if you died the day after a term policy expired?

Let’s say, as an example, that you're comparing whole life police and a 30-year term one. If you are confident that 30 years and one day from now, your kids will be on their own, your mortgage will be paid off, your spouse won't need your income, and you're not going to have to get a new policy then, by all means, go with a term policy.

Take the difference between your term and whole life policies and invest it or - if you prefer - buy an even bigger boat.

However, and I cannot stress this enough, having to get a new life insurance policy 30 years from now will be a disaster in the making for you. At minimum, you will be 30 years older and that means your rates will be drastically higher.

Plus, there is also a very real possibility that your health will be worse 30 years from now than it is today. This, in turn, raises the possibility that you won’t even be able to get a new life insurance policy when your term one expires.

And there you have it, the two questions that I believe will enable every American family to decide for themselves whether a term insurance policy or a whole life one is better for them.

These tips are brought to you by the Warrendale Detroit Blog as part of our Tip of the Week series. Please check back next week for more advice on your home, money, and life. The rest of the tips are are avilable here.

Please feel free to follow the author Frank Nemecek on Twitter and Instagram as @fnemecek for more great content. 

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