If your employer offers free life insurance during open enrollment this fall, grab it. But if your workplace lets you buy additional coverage on top of that, ask some questions before spending any money. Here’s what to consider:
How much life insurance do I need?
The free coverage (paid for by an employer) is typically one to two times your annual salary. That’s probably not enough if you have financial dependents. How many years would you want to replace your income if you died tomorrow? Multiply that number by your salary and add enough to pay off debts and fund items like college. If you are single with no children or debts, for example — skip the additional coverage.
Can I buy enough?
There will be a limit on how much coverage you can get at work. That cap includes the amount your employer pays for, said John “Jamie” Kalamarides, president of Prudential Group Insurance. So if the limit is 10 times your annual salary and your employer pays for coverage equal to two times your salary, then you can buy up to eight times your salary at work. Will the maximum meet your needs?
What kind of life insurance is it?
The most common type offered through work is term life insurance. Term life lasts for a certain period, and is sufficient for many families. Sometimes you can buy permanent life insurance, such as universal life, through work. Permanent coverage lasts your whole life and includes cash value. It’s more complicated than term life, so make sure you understand how the policy works.
How much will it cost?
When buying through an employer, you benefit from the purchasing power of a group. But you may get a better price buying a policy outside of the workplace, especially if you are healthy, said Craig Simms, senior vice president of Vantis Life Insurance Co. It’s easy to get term life insurance quotes online. When considering cost, ask if the price of term life purchased through your employer will rise as you age.
Can I keep it if I leave the company?
Ask if the coverage is portable, which means you can take it with you, and convertible, which means you can convert it to an individual policy you own and control. In addition, ask whether pricing will change if you leave the employer. With open enrollment around the corner, look at your current coverage, including life, health and disability insurance, and identify gaps.