Life insurance is necessary. However, most individuals do not carry enough of it. The idea behind life insurance is that we all die. If your spouse dies prematurely, a life insurance policy will make sure that there is enough income to make your family whole for the financial loss you’ve suffered. Pretty much every adviser agrees having life insurance is a good thing.
This is where the agreement between financial professionals ends abruptly, because the next question that arises is: OK, so what kind of life insurance should people buy? The debate between which is better – term or cash value/permanent life insurance – is seemingly a “never ending battle”. For many various reasons, many investment houses, stock brokers, mutual fund managers (and the agents who sell their funds), as well as many popular financial “gurus” like Suze Orman, Ric Edleman, and Dave Ramsey presumably (according to their many published books and comments on national radio and television) hate whole life insurance.
Some financial advisors love cash value insurance, others hate it. Who’s right? Who’s wrong?
It’s surprising that the financial industry is supposed to be the educator. I say that only because many of the financial advisors in my industry seem to be more concerned about what the next “hot” mutual fund is…or manipulating interest rate returns, eliminating or disguising fees and disregarding suitability with respect to their clients.
In truth, neither the insurance industry nor the investment industry is doing a very good job of defending their respective positions. Point Blank: Financial “gurus” are leaving out critical information. Either they do not have a very good grasp of how life insurance really works, or they are outright lying. Either scenario is totally unacceptable.
Their motives for deception can be numerous, and diverse. Now, there isn’t anything wrong with pointing out the flaws in a financial product, as long as it can be done objectively. However, in the case of life insurance, the attacks being made are baseless and unsound. This is especially shocking because most, if not all, of these attacks are coming from high profile, well known financial professionals. Here are a few common lies, attacks, & misconceptions:
Lie Number One:
Don’t waste your money on cash value insurance. It is a complete waste of money because the insurance company collects premiums from you for 20 years and then when you die you only get the death benefit. They keep all of your cash and your family gets ripped off. Besides, you could make more money by buying term and investing the difference.
Fact: About 1% of all term policies pay a claim. So, your family has (roughly) a 1% chance that they will benefit from that term policy. Term insurance is cheap – IF you are only considering the cost per thousand dollars of insurance. It is guaranteed to get more expensive as time goes on (and you will see this if your policy gets repriced). Life insurance companies are not dumb. They know they can collect premiums from term life and make a killing because the turnover rate is high (people drop their policies before the term is up) or the policy owner simply doesn’t die before the term is up. Life insurance companies are in the business to make money and provide a product. You have to understand how they position their products and how they make money.
Insurance companies use the Law of Large Numbers. They sample a group of people (similar age, height, weight, etc.). The larger the group of people they insure, the more accurate they are about the number of losses they will see.
For example, if we were to start an insurance company and we only had one customer, we would be taking on an incredible risk because of the nature of life insurance, if that one person dies, we could be out of business very quickly (imagine that one customer giving you $20 for a $250,000 death benefit and then dying the very next day). If, however, we have a million customers, then we can better control the risks we are taking by insuring other people’s lives. No one can predict when an individual will die, but if we study a large enough group of people, we can make surprisingly accurate predictions about the number of individuals within that group that will die in any given year. Given that insurance companies have an excellent record of predicting deaths every year, what do all of the statistics say?
Term insurance just doesn’t pay, at least not for policy owners. That’s because most people live to age 65. Term is expensive long-term. Permanent is a good deal long-term. A few critics will still say “no Dave, term is cheaper – always cheaper”. Oh yeah? Watch this:
Let’s look at a male, age 25 and in good health with a wife and a child. In fact, let’s call him Jim (again *cheesy grin*) finds that he needs life insurance He needs $250,000 in life insurance. A 30-year term policy should cost Jim about $370 per year until he reaches age fifty-five. After that, the premiums become unaffordable (as is the case with all term insurance) at $4,700 per year.