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Looking at Term Life Insurance


Term life insurance is cheap compared to whole or universal life options, and is probably the first place someone should look to protect their family's financial future.

In spite of a recent uptick in premiums, term life insurance is still cheap compared to options like whole life or universal life, which do double duty as a way to invest. There are exceptions — the older you are, the higher the premiums for term life, for example -- but for those who want to protect their family’s financial future, term insurance is probably the first place to look, say insurance experts.

Term policies stay in effect for a limited time period, anywhere from five to 35 years. The longer the term, the higher the premium, but it’s a mistake, say the experts, to choose too short a term just to save money. Opting for a shorter term may not provide protection during a time when financial obligations like a mortgage or college expenses could be a problem if you die. A longer term also assures you of coverage if you develop health problems that would make it hard to get a policy if you had to reapply.

Shopping for a policy online is as easy as plugging “term insurance rates” into a search engine like Google. Dozens of sites are available that offer rate comparisons among several insurance companies. When choosing a policy, make sure you get guaranteed level premiums, which mean that the rate will stay the same for the life of the policy. It’s also a good idea to focus on the base amount of coverage you need and avoid add-ons, like double the payout for accidental death, which can boost the policy premium.

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Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice
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