Many young, single people assume they don’t need life insurance. Unfortunately, this misconception is difficult to reconcile before it’s too late. After all, life insurance is one of those investments that you can’t exactly buy after you need it, and if you wait too long, it’s going to cost a lot more to get it.
The purpose of life insurance is to provide a safety net so your family or loved ones won’t struggle to pay bills or handle other financial responsibilities after you’re gone—but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to think about it until after you have a family. Here’s what you need to know about that and other myths about life insurance that are best ignored, and what facts to consider instead.
Life insurance only matters after you die
In fact, life insurance is for the living. It’s in the name, and sure, the central reason to get life insurance is to financially protect your loved ones in the event of your death. But many life insurance policies also have living benefits, which allow you to tap into your plan in the event you are diagnosed with a terminal or chronic illness. Another way you can benefit from your life insurance your plan while you’re still alive is through its cash value. Depending on your plan type, you may be able to build tax-deferred wealth through your policy, with the ability to make withdrawals from or take out loans against the value during your lifetime.
All life insurance is too expensive
Life insurance costs will vary depending on your age, gender, health, and specific policy. Predictably, the younger and healthier you are, the less expensive life insurance will be. For example, a healthy 35-year-old can pay under $28 per month for a term life insurance policy with a $500,000 death benefit payout and a duration of 20 years, according to Policy Genius.
If you’re concerned about costs, Business Insider advises you to start small. Get as much life insurance as you can afford for now, and then reassess when you are able to increase your coverage down the line. For your first plan, term life insurance is one of the most popular and affordable options. It’s a straightforward policy that provides a large assured sum assured for a low premium over an extended term, typically 10 to 30 years.
If you have health issues, consider looking into policies that don’t require medical exams.
You don’t need life insurance if you’re single with no dependents
This might be the most prevalent myth about life insurance: If no one is depending on you, why create a financial security blanket? The reality is that if you have transferable debt, like student loans, you could render your parents or other family members responsible after you’re dead. Life insurance is not just for married couples.
And while many think of life insurance as replacing lost income, even a stay-at-home parent who doesn’t receive a salary should take out life insurance. Although they may not be the traditional “breadwinner,” the cost of replacing childcare or other household duties is worth considering, and preparing for.
You should just stick with your employer’s life insurance
While many company life insurance policies are a low-cost (or even free) perk, they likely aren’t sufficient to meet your financial needs, typically offering around a year of your usual salary. Investopedia explains: “If you have dependents who rely on your income, then you probably need coverage worth at least six times your annual salary…Some experts even recommend getting coverage worth 10 to 12 times your salary.” It’s wise to supplement employer-provided insurance benefits with policies that are tailored to your needs.
The bottom line: Life insurance is not one size fits all
Take advantage of the fact that life insurance is highly customizable. And compared to other forms of insurance, your life insurance needs will change drastically over time. Think about it: Children, marriage, divorce, remarriage, caring for elderly family members, and retirement…and that’s just your thirties. (Kidding.)
Even if you don’t think you need it now, you should start with what you can afford and build coverage as your circumstances change. Nerd Wallet provides a handy table that will help you compare quotes now, and companies like Policy Genius make it easy to shop around for a good rate. But rather than rely solely on online platforms, it’s also worth consulting a real life professional.