NEW YORK (MainStreet) You probably think you need life insurance as long as you can fog a mirror. But not everybody does. So, how do you figure out what you really need?
Well, first things first: do you have anyone who depends on you, or anything you owe? If you have student loans or an outstanding mortgage, you should probably have life insurance. If you have children or parents or anyone for that matter who depends on you, you need life insurance.
If you're a single person who rents and you don't have a significant amount of debt, then you're off the hook. At least for now. Just make sure to reevaluate if cupid strikes.
Once you've determined whether or not you need life insurance, the next step is figuring out how much to buy. This isn't always easy, especially when life insurance agents sell policies like their livelihood depends on it. (Which, it kinda does.)
A quick and easy calculation you can start with is to multiply your annual income by 7. So, if you earn $50,000 a year, you'll need about $350,000 worth of life insurance. Use this as a guideline when you meet with an insurance agent. He or she can provide a more detailed needs analysis, and chances are you'll end up purchasing a slightly higher policy. But at least you'll have this number as a benchmark to keep their sales tactics in check.
The final part of this equation is deciding which type of life insurance you need. For most people, a term policy is perfectly fine. Term life insurance is far cheaper than other options. Make sure you have coverage until the day your dependents will be on their own, or until your retirement benefits kick in. You can figure out for yourself how long that is, probably somewhere between 10 to 30 years.
If you think you might need or want permanent life insurance, like whole life or universal life, at some point down the road consider getting a convertible term policy. This can be useful for parents, especially those who have children with special needs. A convertible term policy allows you to save money today while maintaining the option to upgrade to a whole life or universal life insurance plan in the future.
Keep in mind, the main goal here is to protect your family. Make sure you get what you need, not what you're sold.
Written by Lauren Lyons Cole for MainStreet