Understand Life Insurance

Learning Center Life

At Pete Beckman Insurance, we strive to make insurance less complicated by explaining the different types of life insurance plans you can choose from. Also, explore the reasons why your family may need life insurance.

Types Of Life Insurance Policies

While there are many different types of life insurance policies, they generally fall into two categories.

Term Insurance

Term is the simplest form of life insurance. It provides financial protection for a specific time, usually from one to 30 years. These policies are relatively inexpensive and are well suited for short-term goals, such as insurance protection during the child-raising years or while paying off a mortgage. They provide a death benefit but do not offer cash savings.

Purchasing term insurance is like renting a home. It is a short-term solution. Monthly costs are usually lower, but you will not be building equity. Just as many people rent (while saving to buy a home), individuals who need insurance protection now, but have limited resources, may purchase term coverage and then switch to permanent protection. Others may view term insurance as a cost-effective way to protect their family and still have money to put into other investments.

Permanent Insurance

Permanent insurance (such as universal life, variable universal life, and whole life) provides long-term financial protection. These policies include both a death benefit, and in some cases, cash savings. Because of the savings element, premiums tend to be higher. This type of insurance is good for long-range financial goals.

Purchasing permanent insurance is like buying a home instead of renting. You are taking care of long-term housing needs with a long-term solution. Your monthly costs may be higher than if you rent, but your payments will build equity over time. If you purchase permanent insurance, your premiums will pay a death benefit and may also build cash value that can be accessed in the future.

Commonly Asked Questions

1. How much insurance do I need?

To decide how much life insurance to buy, you need first to figure out what your goals are in purchasing this coverage. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I want to spare my loved ones funeral costs ($7,000-$10,000) and outstanding debts?
  • Am I concerned that my spouse or domestic partner will not be able to continue to pay off the mortgage if I die suddenly?
  • Do I have dependents who count on my income?
  • Am I concerned about college savings for my children or retirement savings for my spouse if I die suddenly?

While all situations are different, here are two scenarios to help you think through the questions you should pose to your insurance agent:


You should purchase about five to eight times your current income. While this may be a good way to begin estimating your family’s needs, you will also need to figure out how much your dependents will need to pay for some or all the following:

  • Cost of owning a home (mortgage, maintenance, insurance, taxes, and utilities)
  • College savings and rising cost of tuition
  • Food, clothing, utilities
  • Childcare
  • Nursing home or elder care
  • Retirement savings
  • Funeral expenses and estate taxes
  • Inflation

Your family may also need extra money to make life changes after you die. They may want to relocate, or your spouse may need to go back to school to be in a better position to help support the family.

No Dependents

If you are young and plan to have a family in the future, you may also want to consider purchasing life insurance now so that you can lock in a good rate.

Just because you don’t have dependents, does not mean you don’t have responsibilities. For instance, you may be concerned with not being an economic burden to others if you die unexpectedly. You may also want to leave some money behind to close family, friends, or a special charity as a remembrance. In this case, you should purchase enough coverage to pay funeral and burial expenses, outstanding debts, and tax liabilities so that the bulk of your estate goes to your family, friends, or charities.

Your insurance needs will vary greatly according to your financial assets and liabilities, income potential, and level of expenses.

2. What is a beneficiary?

A beneficiary is the person or financial institution, (a trust fund, for instance) you name in a life insurance policy to receive the proceeds. In addition to naming a specific beneficiary, you should name a second or “contingent” beneficiary, in case you outlive the first beneficiary.

If there is no living beneficiary, the proceeds will go to your estate. If there are probate proceedings, this could delay your loved ones receiving the money. The proceeds may also be subject to estate taxes.

Picking a beneficiary and keeping that choice up-to-date are important parts of purchasing life insurance. The birth or adoption of a child, marriage, or divorce can affect your initial choice of who will receive the death benefit when you die. Review your beneficiary designation as new situations arise to make sure your choice is still appropriate.

Pay special attention to the wording of your beneficiary designations to ensure that the right person receives the proceeds of your estate. If you write “wife/husband of the insured” without using a specific name, an ex-spouse could receive the proceeds. On the other hand, if you have named specific children, any later-born or adopted children will not receive the proceeds unless the beneficiary designation is changed.

3. How often should I review my policy?

You should review all of your insurance needs at least once a year. If you have a major life change, you should contact your insurance agent or company representative. The change in your life may have a significant impact on your insurance needs. Life changes may include the following:

  • Marriage or divorce
  • A child or grandchild who is born or adopted
  • Significant changes in your health or that of your spouse/domestic partner
  • Taking on the financial responsibility of an aging parent
  • Purchasing a new home
  • Refinancing your home
  • Coming into an inheritance

If you’re interested in learning more about life insurance plans for you and your family, then contact Pete Beckman Insurance today for a free quote. One of our representatives will be happy to assist you in finding the plan that works best for your unique situation.