COLUMBUS – September is Life Insurance Awareness Month, and the Ohio Department of Insurance is working to educate Ohioans on the importance of life insurance. While 81 percent of people acknowledge that their family is their most valuable asset, less than half are actually protecting them with life insurance, according to a survey by nonprofit consumer education organization Life Happens.
Life insurance policy proceeds can help replace the deceased insured’s income, fund ongoing expenses, pay the mortgage, car loan, and other debts left behind. It can also cover funeral expenses and estate taxes.
“Life insurance is one of the ways you can plan for your family’s financial well-being and transfer wealth across generations,” Ohio Department of Insurance Interim Director Tynesia Dorsey said. “Different products are available for all types of wage earners and policies can be structured to allow for flexible contribution amounts.”
Life insurance falls into two product classes: term and cash value. Term insurance provides lower-cost coverage for a specific time period, such as 5, 10, and 20 years. It tends to be less expensive than the more robust cash value insurance – whole, universal, and variable – that often spans a lifetime, and includes savings and investment features. The amount of life insurance a person should purchase depends on such unique factors as their family situation and financial standing. When evaluating coverages, a premium analysis is essential.
“During the process of determining a best product fit it’s crucial that people make sure the premiums are affordable to meet their short and long-term goals,” Dorsey said. “According to terms outlined in the policy, premiums may increase after a certain period of time the coverage is active.”
Other elements to factor into a policy are life events related to marriage, children, loans, employment, and retirement. They can be reasons to increase or decrease benefits, adjust certain policy features, and update beneficiaries.
Once a policy is secured, each year when your annual statement arrives, review it and verify the policy is performing as you expected. Contact the insurance company or an agent directly to discuss any concerns you may have.
For more life insurance information visit the Ohio Department of Insurance website at www.insurance.ohio.gov or call 1-800-686-1526 with your questions. A free, online missing life insurance policy search service is available, to help Ohioans who believe they may be the beneficiary of unclaimed proceeds, through the National Association of Insurance Commissioners website at https://eapps.naic.org/life-policy-locator.