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Is My Work Life Insurance Enough?

July 20, 2018

Life Insurance Covers Your Most Precious AssetsHave Life Insurance through Work? 4 Questions You Need to Ask About Your Coverage

This is another common theme at the firehouse, a young guy on the job gets married, buys his first house, has a baby, and then suddenly the new mommy starts the think about the what-if’s that come with a dangerous career. Suddenly the coverage provided by the city we work for no longer seems adequate and the group rate to increase the coverage is 5x more than they can afford. So, they ask me for advice on purchasing coverage elsewhere. Thankfully, we work in a career where we have to be healthy to do our job, so most of us qualify for top rates.

Many people enroll in life insurance coverage through work because the cost may be low and it’s easy to manage. If you do have an employer-sponsored life insurance policy, how much do you really know about it? Have you reviewed your policy details closely?

Usually, employers offer two types of life insurance — one is included as part of your benefits package and you don’t pay for it. The other is group life insurance that you can purchase. Here are a few questions you might want to consider to determine whether your employer-sponsored life insurance is right for you and your family.

Is it enough?

While some life insurance coverage is better than no coverage at all, it’s important to closely evaluate how much life insurance you really need. For instance, our city gives us one time our annual salary. For a young family man with a new mortgage, that isn’t nearly enough.

A number of companies in the U.S. typically offer only one- to three- times your annual salary as a benefit. Does this amount meet your family’s needs? Don’t forget about the role that outstanding debt, like a mortgage, car payment or student loans can have on your family’s finances.

Will it change as my life changes?

Your work life and home life are always changing, and so are your financial needs. As time goes by, your salary is likely to increase, your family might grow or you may take on extra caregiver responsibilities as your parents get older. Your life insurance coverage should also reflect these changes. You’ll want to find out if your policy can flex, and what the cost might be to make changes.

Does it only cover me?

Most group life insurance policies only cover the employee. If you’re married, you may want to research if your partner is also covered, either through their own employer, or by purchasing an individual policy, to help protect your family. I always say, buy it while you’re young and healthy and lock it in long term. If you can afford it, buy a mix of term and permanent so you’ll have peace of mind for the foreseeable future.

Will my coverage end if I change jobs?

Your life insurance coverage through work may not follow you if you change jobs or if you stop working altogether. And your new employer may not offer the same benefit options, so it’s important to make sure you have sufficient life insurance coverage in place, no matter where you work.

It’s important to remember that a group life insurance plan isn’t your only option. You can purchase additional life insurance coverage as an individual, which might be more affordable than you think. Take control of your life insurance coverage so you’ll have the right protection in place for you and your family at all times.