If you miss a premium payment, you typically have a 30- or 31-day grace period during which you can pay the premium. After that, the policy will lapse. You may be able to reinstate with evidence of insurability depending on your policy’s provisions. If your policy has sufficient cash value, the company can, with your authorization, draw from a permanent policy’s cash surrender value to keep that policy in force. This does not apply to term insurance because there is no cash value to draw from. In some flexible premium policies, premiums may be reduced or skipped as long as sufficient cash values remain in the policy. However, this will result in lower cash values.
Provisions or riders that provide additional benefits can often be added to a policy. One such rider is a waiver of premium for disability. With this rider, if you become totally disabled for a specified period of time, you do not have to pay premiums for the duration of the disability.
“Accidental death benefit”, provides for an additional benefit in case of death as a result of an accident. This rider, if available, would require additional premium. Availability and specifics varies by carrier and state.
“Accelerated benefits”, also known as “living benefits.” This rider allows you, under certain circumstances, to receive the proceeds of your life insurance policy before you die. Such circumstances include terminal or catastrophic illness, the need for long-term care or confinement to a nursing home. This rider, if available, may require additional premium. Availability and specifics varies by carrier and state.
“Child rider”, provides insurance for all your children, usually from $1,000 to $20,000 of death benefit. This rider, if available, would require additional premium. Availability and specifics varies by carrier and state.
If you decide to purchase the policy, find out when the insurance becomes effective. This could be different from the date the company issues the policy.
It allows policyholders to receive all or part of the policy’s proceeds prior to death under certain circumstances, including the need for long-term care and confinement to a nursing home. Because payments may affect tax status and Medicare eligibility, and will be deducted from the overall benefits paid later to beneficiaries, policyholders should thoroughly investigate options in advance.
Medical tests can provide accurate and current information about an applicant’s health, thus enabling insurers to charge premiums that reflect the level of risk an applicant represents. Because some health conditions are easily managed through proper medication, therapy or lifestyle changes, medical information sometimes makes it possible for insurers to cover applicants who might not otherwise be insurable. More serious or incurable conditions present an enormous risk that an insurer simply cannot assume.
Always name a “contingent,” or secondary, beneficiary, just in case you outlive your first beneficiary.
Select a specific beneficiary, rather than having the proceeds of your life insurance paid to your estate. One of the great advantages of life insurance is that it can be paid to your family immediately. If it is payable to your estate, however, it will have to go through probate with the rest of your assets.
Be very clear in wording beneficiary designations. Naming specific children may exclude those born later. If your child dies before you, do you want the proceeds to go to that child’s children? Changing the beneficiary designation is easy, but you have to remember to do it.
Think twice before you do, because in many situations it may not be to your advantage. Before dropping any in-force policy, make sure your “new” policy is paid for and in effect and first consider:
If your health status has changed over the years, you may no longer be insurable at preferred or standard rates.
Even if both policies pay “dividends,” it may be years before the new policy’s dividends equal those of your present one.
If you replace one cash-value policy with another, the cash value of the new policy may be relatively small for several years and may never be as large as that of the original one. There may also be a period wherein a surrender charge is applicable on the first policy.
You should ask for a detailed listing of cost breakdowns of both policies, including premiums, cash surrender value and death benefits. Compare these as well as the features offered by both policies.
If you decide to surrender or reduce the value of the policy you now own and replace it with other insurance, be sure your new policy is in force before you cancel the old one.