Buying life insurance isn't one of life's great pleasures. In fact, its recreational potential falls somewhere between a root canal and kidney stones. Unfortunately, it's one of those inescapable duties of adult life, so you might as well do it right. Use an online calculator to figure out how much you'll need, and don't panic over the total. Life insurance is pretty inexpensive for most people, and you can control your costs by observing a few basic rules.
Shop around. It's not like the old days, when comparison-shopping for life insurance meant letting a half-dozen pushy salesmen into your home. Now you can take your pick of online quote-comparison services and get figures from hundreds of companies with just a few clicks.
Try a larger amount of insurance. Insurers often reduce their cost per thousand if you buy a larger policy, so sometimes you can pay less for more coverage. Strange, but true.
Buy early. Insurance is at its cheapest when you're at your youngest and healthiest, so get your coverage as early as you can and your costs will be low. It's not exactly rocket science.
Go the group route. Your alumni group and any business or professional organizations you belong to often have an arrangement in place with a major insurer to provide reduced rates as a member benefit.
Fix yourself if you have unhealthy practices. People with healthy lifestyles live longer, and that means insurers can offer lower rates. If you stop smoking, drink minimally and lose weight through a doctor-supervised program of exercise and sensible eating, you can cut the cost of your coverage significantly.
- Stick with insurance companies that have strong financial ratings from services such as Moody's, and check them for consumer complaints with your state's insurance board.
- Online quotes always assume you'll qualify for standard rates. After you've narrowed your choices, contact the companies directly for an accurate, personalized quote.
- If you improve your health after your policy is issued, you can usually apply for a reduction. If your current insurer won't give you a break, get competitive quotes from other companies.
- If you're considered a substandard risk because of your medical history or family history, invest some extra time in research. Some companies specialize in clients who have been refused or quoted excessive prices by other companies. Brokers who deal with high-risk clients usually know which companies provide the best rates for specific medical problems, and they'll save you a bundle over the long term.
Fred Decker is a trained chef and certified food-safety trainer. Decker wrote for the Saint John, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, and has been published in Canada's Hospitality and Foodservice magazine. He's held positions selling computers, insurance and mutual funds, and was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.