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If you're a young adult with no dependents, life insurance might not seem like much of a priority — especially given other financial concerns, such as paying off student loans or saving for a down payment on your first home.
But there are several reasons to buy life insurance when you're young. Here are some of the reasons you might consider, a brief explanation of the three most common types of life insurance, and some information on how to choose a life insurance policy.
Reasons to Buy Life Insurance as a Young Adult
While it might not seem like someone your age would need life insurance, some of the reasons a young adult might want coverage include:
To Help Cover Final Expenses
In 2019, the median cost for a funeral with a viewing and burial was $7,640, according to National Funeral Directors Association. In addition to funeral costs, you might also have other bills, such as health care costs, associated with your death. With life insurance, you could cover these expenses yourself and help prevent leaving a financial burden behind for your loved ones.
To Pay Off Debt
Life insurance might also be valuable if your parents or someone else cosigned on your student loans and other debts. If you pass away, then your cosigner would still be responsible for paying off everything. Life insurance could help with these expenses.
To Prepare for Future Needs
Do you plan on buying a house, getting married or having children? A life insurance policy can help protect your loved ones in the event that you should die, and buying a policy while you're still young could potentially help you lock in a lower premium rate.
Potential Advantages of Buying Life Insurance While Young
Buying life insurance while you're young may offer several advantages versus waiting. When you apply for a policy, you go through a process called underwriting where the insurer reviews your health status and considers your risk of passing away. Based on your risk, they decide whether you qualify. You are not guaranteed to be able to buy life insurance, but when you're younger, you're typically in better health, so you have a better chance of qualifying.
Insurers also use this information to determine the premium you pay. The younger and healthier you are, the more likely you are to get a lower rate. On the other hand, if you wait until you're older to buy, the cost of insurance will likely be more expensive. There's also the chance that you could develop a serious health condition by then, which can make it more difficult to qualify.
Types of Life Insurance for Young Adults
There are three common types of life insurance: term life, whole life and universal life. Here's a brief overview of each.
Term Life Insurance
Term life insurance is a temporary policy. It lasts a set amount of time, and if you outlive the term, your coverage ends. In exchange for being temporary, term life insurance is typically more affordable than other types, especially as a young adult. This kind of life insurance might be a good fit for those looking to purchase a policy on a smaller budget.
Whole Life Insurance
Whole life insurance is a type of permanent coverage and does not have an expiration date. So, as long as you pay the premiums, it can last your entire life. The premium typically starts out more expensive than term but does not increase over time. Buying one of these policies when you're young can help you potentially lock in a lower premium for the rest of your life.
Universal Life Insurance
Universal life insurance is another type of permanent coverage. It also can last your entire life as long as premiums are paid. What's different about universal life insurance is that you can adjust the premium based on your needs. This payment flexibility can be handy when your income goes up or down. Just keep in mind that increases in coverage are subject to underwriting, and there must be enough cash value in the policy to cover monthly charges if a lower premium is paid than the amount selected at issue or if a premium payment is skipped. Additional premium payments may need to be made to keep the policy in force.
There are a number of reasons to consider buying life insurance when you're young. For more information, consider meeting with a financial representative.
Opportunities for Life Insurance at New Life Stages
Being a young adult can mean reaching new life stages, one after the other. Here's what you could be thinking about for your insurance and finances, depending on where you are.
If you just finished school and are looking for a job, chances are your budget might be a little tight. If you can swing it, you may want to consider buying a term policy. At your age, it will likely be more affordable. That way, should the worst happen and you pass away, you wouldn't leave the financial burden of covering your final expenses to your family.
Some term policies give you the option to convert into permanent ones later — including those with cash value — without a medical exam. This can give you the option to swap once you start working and can afford to put more toward your financial goals.
New to the Workforce
If you just joined the workforce, consider putting together a budget (if you don't already have one). Money can go fast if you don't watch your spending. Consider putting at least some of your paycheck toward your long-term financial goals, such as saving for retirement. The money you put aside now has decades to grow, which may make reaching your retirement target easier than if you start later in life.
A permanent policy such as whole or universal life could help you build this wealth through cash value. Another option is to set up an affordable term policy to prepare for the future. That way, you'd have your insurance coverage in place to prepare for having a family one day or to leave a financial cushion for your beneficiaries. Plus, you could convert to permanent coverage once you're ready.
New to Selecting Your Own Benefits
If you're just starting your career, it's possible that you might not have needed to select workplace benefits before. Perhaps this is because your first job didn't have them or you stayed on your parents' health insurance until age 26.
Navigating company benefits can feel a little overwhelming at first, especially if there are multiple programs such as a retirement plan, health insurance, disability, dental and life insurance. A financial representative can help you sort through the choices so you can take advantage of every benefit you've earned.
If your employer offers life insurance at work, that can be a way to get affordable coverage. Just keep in mind that there can be downsides, such as losing coverage if you change jobs. Because of that, it may make sense to still have a personal policy to go with any work coverage.
How to Choose a Life Insurance Policy
If you decided that you would like life insurance, the next step is choosing a policy. To apply, you could schedule a meeting with a financial representative. They can help you go over your situation and explain the different types of coverage to help you decide what makes sense for your needs.
From there, the representative would run the numbers and put together a quote, showing the cost and benefits. There's no obligation to sign up, and you can compare several options at once.
If you're happy with the quote, you can apply. You may need to go through health underwriting, but at a young age, you likely have a good chance of qualifying for a policy. With your life insurance in place, you can feel good knowing a key part of your financial plan is covered.