Term Insurance or Participating Whole Life Insurance? This is the question that I often ask and discuss with my other half. Typically, people seek value when they buy or invest in something. For insurance, value seekers would prefer a cash value. Cash value is what you have contributed over the insurance tenor. These sum of money, deducting the cost of insurance, the fees, commissions, salary and what nots will be invested by the insurance company Fund Managers (Whether they choose in-house or external fund houses) – In short they are known as participating life insurance.
Term and Whole Life Insurance
Term Insurance are policies that do not have a cash value. They are typically cheaper than Whole Life Plans (Otherwise it wouldn’t make sense to get term insurance). For example, they cost $200 per annum for a coverage of $200K and it depends on your age at point of inception. They may or may not be renewable yearly, meaning that the premiums will increase with age and each individual health condition.
In my personal opinion, I think that a Whole Life Plan is really expensive. You pay premiums and the first three years, there is literally no value to your assets. Then your participating underlying investments are handled by someone else who tries their best to beat benchmark and regardless, they get paid in fees and costs.
Buy Term, Invest the Rest?
There is a famous saying, buy term and invest the rest. Well, I don’t have a view on that. It really depends if you want to leave some legacy behind for your family/kids/relatives or it may even be transitory. For e.g. used to cover debts such as a new house, a new car or assets. In order not to complicate matters, I’ll leave illness out of the equation and discuss solely on the death benefit. Generally, you need to cover your liabilities so that in the event of death, your family members not only are rid of their stress and pressure from the loss of a loved one as well as the financial aspect of it. To a certain extent, I believe in covering at least 2x of your liabilities so that there is comfort in dealing with more financial freedom.
The other stuffs to take note of
For a typical household, i believe that health insurance is the first thing you need to seek coverage on, followed by life plans but everyone’s scenario is different. In finance, there is a phase that all of us has to go through which is also the toughest and it is called wealth building. I’ll leave it for discussion on a separate day but my point is, you buy insurance based on what you can afford and not because it is cheap or time is not on your side.
For me, I take the approach of covering term as well as whole life plans. The hybrid style works for me as I am pretty savvy with financial contracts and insurance. In my own time, I am qualified advisor for insurance and more qualified than many out there but I never once worked for any insurance company. Though finance is my forte but there are too many products and innovation in this field that you cant keep up. So, you need to have someone in there to guide you along. It is annoying to talk to agents so you need to have someone you trust.
Let me just plant some ideas – If it make sense. It isn’t all encompassing but just to point things out.
A. A Substitute for liabilities (Housing loan, car loan, personal loan, student loan)
B. A transition phase which you do not mind protecting until that period is over. As term has no value, it is similar to a no-contract telco plan and you can get rid of it anytime (if the time period is short)
C. Supplement for a shortage of coverage that you have for your whole life.
Whole Life Plan:
A. It’s just for lazy people. Buy/Save and pay the premium for a period of time. Leave it there.
B. Buy at a young age and the premiums stay really really low which is smart. Consider your finances too as you need it to be as affordable until you have served the payment term.
C. If you have a young kid or elderly who are not working. You, are the income holder needs to be insured. When you are gone, the young kid and elderly will not be able to work to give you an income.
Above all, health is of the utmost importance. You will never know when or what hits you. Even then, your state of mind will be in a mess. So, no matter how prepared you are, no one will ever be prepared. All these little steps and conversations must eventually turn into real action. When shit comes, it comes and there is no point saying “I should have”. Don’t just listen to your agent out there. Seek alternative, ask and learn. No will will care more about your money more than you will – These life skills will bring value to your own life and frankly I can’t see a life with no planning and no one should.
These are just solely opinions of mine. Different people have different needs, requirement, financial situation and views. For me, this is what I would do if I need to deal with buying insurance for myself and my family. There is no one size fits all – different strokes for different folks.
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The pictures were taken from the website for this article.