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TheStreet Open House

How To Buy Life Insurance Is Point Of Confusion; Despite Broad Understanding Of Its Value

Stocks in this article: WLP

When it comes to protecting ourselves, we Americans believe in doing the right thing. We support recycling to protect the environment and researching the safety records of our cars before we purchase them. And we believe in protecting our loved ones by having life insurance. In fact, according to a new WellPoint survey, a little more than 70 percent say that having life insurance is part of preparing for their financial future.

Yet, in the face of significant recent media attention to Americans’ lack of future financial security, WellPoint’s new survey finds that consumers are confused about how to purchase life insurance, with many mistakenly believing that, in the future, they can purchase it on the public health exchanges.

“The new health insurance exchanges will not be offering life insurance – despite the fact that more than half of the people we surveyed (52 percent) believe this to be the case,” said Bill Smith, president of WellPoint’s Disability and Life businesses. “There are two ways you can purchase coverage -- through your employer, or directly through an insurance carrier or independent agent.”

Exactly what life insurance offers was also a source of confusion among those surveyed. While more than half (58 percent) understood that life insurance covers programs to help beneficiaries, some thought they might receive discounts on electronics and cell phone minutes (10 percent).

“Life insurance coverage has changed throughout the years, so we’re definitely not talking about your grandfather’s life insurance,” said Smith. “However, while cell phone minutes may be a stretch, we do offer services that people don’t normally think of when they think about life insurance; services such as face-to-face counseling, legal and financial consultations, and identity theft resolution services.”

Nearly half (47 percent) of all survey respondents admitted to living from paycheck to paycheck, again underscoring the need for people to think about their future planning. These numbers mark a dramatic increase from last year’s survey when just 32 percent indicated this to be the case.

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