Determining Your Life Insurance Needs: 10 Milestones For Changing Your Coverage Amount

All too often, people buy a life insurance policy, stuff it in a drawer, and forget about it. While there’s no question that having coverage in the first place is the responsible thing to do, it’s important to remember that your life insurance needs hardly remain static. That’s why it’s a good idea to review your current life insurance policy once every five years. If one or more of the following 10 milestones have occurred since you initially bought your policy, it may be time for you to increase – or decrease – your coverage. 

  1. You’ve gotten married, divorced or been widowed. If you’ve just gotten married, the best wedding present you can give yourself (and your partner) is more coverage – especially if one of you is financially supporting the other. If you’ve recently divorced or been widowed, you may want to reduce your coverage amount – especially if you don’t have children or other dependents.
  1. You’ve had a child (or adopted one). Having another mouth to feed is as good a reason as any to get more life insurance. Your children will need as much financial support as possible in the event that something happens to you – especially if you’re planning on sending them to college.
  1. You’re approaching the age of retirement. Getting ready to retire? Chances are you won’t need as much coverage. Your children are probably grown and supporting themselves, and you won’t need as much income replacement since you’ll no longer be working full-time.
  1. Your children are leaving for college. If your kids are leaving for college, they’ve reached the age of adulthood – which means it’s only a matter of time before you no longer have to support them financially. That’s why this is usually a good time to reduce your coverage amount – provided that you’ve already saved enough for their college tuition.
  1. Your children have gotten married. If your kids are getting married, it’s unlikely that they’re still depending on you for financial support – which means you probably don’t need as much coverage as you once did.
  1. Your partner, child or a dependent have suffered a serious illness or disability. Should a serious accident or disease befall your spouse, child or another dependent, it’s time to get more life insurance. Especially if you’re their sole means of financial support. Should something happen to you, you’ll want to make sure they can continue to get the care and medical attention they need.
  1. You’ve moved into a larger or more expensive home. Whether you’ve upgraded from an apartment or condo to a house or simply moved into a larger or more expensive home, now’s the time to increase your coverage amount. Bigger homes mean bigger expenses – especially for anyone you might leave behind.
  1. You’re caring for an aging parent. In many ways, caring for an aging parent is like caring for a child. So even if you’re single and don’t have any children, you’ll need enough life insurance to ensure that your aging parent will be cared for in the event that something happens to you.
  1. You or your partner has changed jobs (or had a substantial change in income). Given that life insurance often serves as replacement income, you should have enough to cover your salary for as many years as your dependents will be in need of your paycheck. If you’ve recently switched to a higher-paying job or gotten a raise, it may be time to increase your coverage accordingly.
  1. You’ve started a new business. If you’ve just started a new business, you may have several employees whose livelihood now depends on you. Increasing your life insurance coverage is a great way to ensure that your employees as well as your family will be taken care of if tragedy strikes. You may even want to take out a key person insurance policy if your role is crucial to your company’s future, or would be difficult to fill in your absence.

If you think you need to change your coverage strategy, speak to your life insurance agent as soon as possible. He or she can help determine whether you need more or less coverage based on your present lifestyle and circumstances.

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