Affordable Life Insurance - The 10 Most Overlooked Savings Secrets
AFFORDABLE LIFE INSURANCE IN 2023 – THE 10 MOST OVERLOOKED SAVINGS SECRETS
Every industry has secrets.
In the life insurance industry, one of the biggest is, “How to find affordable life insurance.”
How is it possible that some agencies say they can save a client 50-70% or more on life insurance?
Is that a scam?
... and if not, what's their secret?
We’ve all seen the commercials, and every company promises to have the lowest rates... to save you 15%, 73%, etc., but how do you really save money on Life Insurance?
Since we've heard this question so many times, we created this 3,000+ word odyssey revealing our absolute best secrets to saving on life insurance.
In this guide, we're not only giving you access to our best tips. You'll also learn commonly assumed “facts” about life insurance that are completely untrue, and some other lesser-known "life insurance secrets" which will surprise you! In the end, you'll have all the ammunition you need to find the most affordable life insurance policy possible for you and your family.
Here’s what we'll cover in this post:
Quick Article Guide
Here’s what we'll cover in this post:
1. Policy "Layering" - How to Save Money with Multiple Policies
Life insurance companies won't advise this, but you're able to split your life insurance on multiple policies. Why would you want to, and how can it save you money?
How Does Layering Life Insurance Work?
Case Study: What if my insurance needs change over time?
Let's say I visit a financial planner who helps me determine two primary needs for term life insurance:
- Income Replacement - I need $500,000 of coverage for 20 years
- Mortgage Insurance - I need $250,000 of coverage for 10 years
Based on my income, he also recommends a $500,000 term life insurance policy for 20 years, which will protect my family until I'm retired and the kids are through college and independent (or so we hope!) Now I can start talking to some life insurance agents...
The average insurance agent would recommend I buy a $750,000 policy with a 20 year term, but then I would be over insured the second 10 years, and pay a lot for carrying that $250,000 needed to pay off my home.
By purchasing a 10 year, $250,000 term policy, and also a 20 year, $500,000 term policy, it will reduce my expense by around 15% in the first 10 years, and about 40% afterwards. It also gives me the ability to cancel that 250k policy early if I sell the house. Make sense?
This approach is called "staggering" or "layering" policies.
How Staggering Term Life Insurance Helps Save Money
Real world example: Last year I wrote 3 policies for a husband and 3 policies for his wife, each at $500,000 of coverage. The policies are 10, 20, 30 years in length to insure his children’s college tuition, his mortgage, and his retirement.
The client wanted a total of 3 million of coverage for the next 10 years to make sure his children had money for college if he passed away before they graduated, to pay off the mortgage, and to provide his spouse with income replacement until she reaches retirement age. Once the children graduate, he will not need to insure the cost of their education so the total insurance will drop to $2 million.
The 2 million dollars of coverage will drop to 1 million in 10 years when the house is paid off, and will continue another 10 years until the couple is ready to retire at which point they will no longer need coverage.
How Much Money Can Staggering Life Insurance Save You?
These 6 policies were about 40% less expensive than purchasing 2 separate 30 year policies for 1.5 million each and the outcome was the same. The children’s education, the mortgage, and income replacement until retirement age will be insurance for less money.
BOTTOM LINE: Explain to your independent agent why you need life insurance, and hope to accomplish. This is a reoccurring theme! Your agent should be a trusted financial advisor, not a salesman in a call center.
2. Saving With the Company You Didn't Know Existed
The life insurance company you've never heard of is as good as the one which ran 10 TV commercials last night.
A "Big Name" is not necessarily a better company. It generally means they advertise a lot, and the marketing cost is passed down to policyholders.
Trust me ... Snoopy, MetLife's mascot, doesn't live in that little doghouse, but a beachfront villa in Boca Raton.
There are nearly 1,200 highly rated life insurance companies in America, yet most of us can probably name around 10. So other than cost, how do you confirm one is "legit" and will pay your money promptly if you die while insured?
What to Look for in a Life Insurance Company
Most life insurance insiders will instruct you to check AM Best's ratings on-line or by asking your agent, and go with the "A rated" company providing your lowest price. An "A rating" (little difference between (A+, A, A-) means the insurance company has well above the funds necessary to pay future claims and has never failed to pay a valid claim in its history.
Rest assured... life insurance is one of the most heavily regulated industries in America, by both State and Federal governments, and has been since the 1800's. It's one of the reasons we elect Insurance Commissioners.
They're ensuring the strength of one of our most important financial cornerstones. It should reassure you that there's never been a major carrier go out of business, other than by choice. When this occurs, another insurer, of equal or higher rating, is assigned your policy. This doesn't change your contract.
This happened to me when First Colony Life was acquired by General Electric in 1996 and became part of Genworth Financial. Nothing changed other than who I wrote my checks to.
Keep In Mind - Each Life Insurance Company Has A Specialization
Another important thing to keep in mind when trying to save money on life insurance is that each company has their own specific niche which they insure. Some companies only sell no exam policies. Others only sell permanent plans, or burial insurance.
Some companies are known for having the most affordable life insurance rates for smokers or diabetics. Whatever type of life insurance you are looking for, or whatever health condition you have, chances are there is a company that is best for your needs.
Have a certain health condition, or other prohibitive things that restrict your life insurance options? We created these guides to the best life insurance companies for people in very specific situations:
3. Group Insurance Might Be Your BEST Option
Hey, I work in the life insurance industry, so won't instruct you to go elsewhere to buy coverage, but a consumer savvy with their personal finances will be aware of their options.
The cost of group life insurance, whether through an employer, association, or fraternal group is determined by the average health of members of the group.
In other words, if you work with 20 other people and they are young all in exceptional health, the price of your coverage will be less than if your co-workers are older and in poor health.
Who is Group Life Insurance Best For?
If you’re in very good health, it's better to buy independent life insurance, with lower cost being just one factor. However, if you smoke or have serious health issues group coverage through your employer may be less expensive. In addition, you cannot be denied Group Coverage.
Do you smoke regularly or have a health condition? These resources will help you find the best coverage for your needs:
If your health or lifestyle (multiple DUIs, for instance) makes you otherwise uninsurable, group coverage may be your best and only option. Financial advisors normally recommend looking at your group insurance as a supplement to the insurance you acquire independently.
What Are Some of the Drawbacks of Group Life Insurance?
Group insurance plans have a few major drawbacks:
- Rates can change annually
- There may be exclusions for pre-existing conditions
- and you'll lose it if you change jobs or become disabled.
Another great reason for buying term life insurance when you're young and healthy... if you get to the point you don't need it, simply cancel the policy. Better to be over-insured at an affordable rate in your working years, then under or not insured later when you might be placing your loved ones' financial future at risk. When we die, we want to be grieved, not blamed for the mess left behind.
Are you in your 20's and 30's, and contemplating a life insurance policy, but aren't sure if you really need it? Each of these guides has tips on what to expect, what's available to you, and why you should consider life insurance while you are young:
BOTTOM LINE: Ask your financial advisor and independent life insurance agent for a cost/benefit analysis for your options, and think long term.
4. "Specialty" Shorter Term Policies
If you've looked into life insurance at all, you know that 10 year term is the most affordable life insurance policy type, right? Not so!... there are even shorter terms.
Who Are Short Term Life Insurance Policies Best For?
OK, I just instructed you to think "long term," but when would should short term coverage be appropriate?
Let's say you're recently divorced and required to carry life insurance until your youngest is 18 years old. Or, you're collateralizing a loan with life insurance, and expect to pay the debt off in a few years.
In these cases and other situations, a specialty insurance product, such a "annual renewable" policy or 5 year term policy may be your best value, and easier to obtain, since the insurer's risk is for a short period of time.
As a result of the 10-year term insurance market being so competitive, you may find this policy being the cheapest. If so, cancel the policy when it's no longer needed... there are no penalties for cancelling a standard level term policy, and there's a good chance you'll receive a pro-rated refund for any unused prepaid time period.
Want to learn more about your term life insurance options in order to save money on your coverage? These resources have all the information you need:
5. How to Pay Less for the Same Amount of Coverage
Here's a simple way to save 10-15% or more on life insurance:
Some carriers will allow you to purchase a policy with an annuity payment as the benefit, rather than a lump sum. The most typical life insurance payout is a "lump sum" meaning the entirety of the benefit is paid in one check upon death.
An annuity death benefit, on the other hand, pays an annual or monthly benefit for a set period of time such as 5, 10, or 20 years.
The annuity payment can be a terrific way to provide a lasting benefit for your loved ones, and ensure the funds last for the intended period of time. For those of us with young (or irresponsible) beneficiaries, annuity payments offer a simple way to control your beneficiary's inheritance, rather than having to set up a trust with distributions rules and spendthrift provisions.
If you're buying life insurance for income replacement purposes, you're the perfect candidate to consider a policy with an annuity payout rather than lump sum.
How Much Money Can This Tip Save You On Life Insurance?
For Example: a 50 year old might pay $43 per month for a 20 year term policy with a $250,000 death benefit. HOWEVER, he might pay $35 per month for the same $250,000 of coverage if that death benefit is to be paid out over 10 years, a 22% savings.
It's better for the insurance carriers to pay out in this fashion, so they charge you less. Everyone wins.
Save Money On Life Insurance By Paying Annually
Similarly, paying for your life insurance policy on an annual basis rather than a monthly basis can help you save money on coverage.
Typically, most companies offer a discount to people who are willing to "pay up" on their policies.
In some cases, these savings can be as high as 10-20% the cost of your coverage. Not all companies offer this, but most reputable ones do, because it allows them to collect money up front.
Pay for Your Entire Policy Up Front
For other types of life insurance policies, usually low face amount policies like burial and smaller whole life, companies allow you to pay up front for the entire policy at once.
While this is not an option for most people, as this can cost thousands of dollars, it also allows you to save thousands on your life insurance policy.
Typically, this is offered on policies like Children's Life Insurance, Burial, and Guaranteed Policies. Some companies even offer what is called "Single Pay" policies, which allow you to pay for an entire policy up front.
Usually, these are geared more towards people with critical illnesses, or those who are older, and looking for small coverage amounts.
Consider Riders for Supplemental Coverage
One last tip you can use to save money on life insurance by paying less for the same amount of coverage is to utilize policy riders to your advantage.
Riders are add-ons for life policies that allow for more coverage, or coverage in specific situations.
Some of the more common life insurance policy riders include:
- Disability Rider
- Accidental Death Rider
- Children's Term Rider
- Term Conversion Rider
The best thing you can do to save money this way is to look for companies that have the best policy riders, and compare the costs while also looking at the coverage they add. Companies like Haven Life for example have amazingly low no exam term life rates on top of insanely good riders.
Sometimes, you may only need an extra $50,000 of coverage. Rather than taking out an additional policy, you may be able to save money if you work with a company like AIG, who offers riders that allow you to add to your term coverage at certain points throughout the life of your policy - which is much cheaper than getting an entirely new policy.
Want to learn more about life insurance policy riders and how they can save you money? These guides have everything you need to know and more:
6. Working With an Independent Agent Can Save You 50% or More on Life Insurance!
There are 2 types of agents in the life insurance industry:
- Independent agents
- Captive agents
Captive Agents vs. Independent Agents
The difference? Neighborhood agents such as your local State Farm, Farmers Insurance, or Allstate agent are typically "Captive Agents."
They have a contract with one big company which advertises to help generate business, and can't sell through their competitors.
They generally have an office and can generally provide personal service, however, you're paying a premium. They have the highest overhead...think about which companies run TV commercials every few minutes. Beyond coming to your home and helping you complete an application, there's little your agent can do for you. They'll schedule an exam, tell you what your rate is afterwards, and that's about it. Simple, convenient, but expensive.
An independent agent approaches things differently.
They basically work as a no-fee "broker," bringing the shopper (you) and a life insurance together. An agent experienced at "field underwriting" will do this by asking you a series of health and lifestyle questions, matching you to the carrier (insurance company) best for your specific profile and what you want to accomplish by being insured.
Important Insider's Note:It's illegal for a life insurance agent to charge fees for their "shopping service." It could cost them their license. As a policy holder, you only pay the insurance company directly for the cost of your insurance, and this cost can't be marked up or down.
Why Working With an Independent Agent is Important
In other words, I can't give my brother-in-law a discount, and I pay the same rate a guy of same age/health also insured with Genworth pays. The insurance company pays the agent a commission, which is generally comparable between insurers, so there's little influence for us to "push" one company over another.
As business owners, it's best for us to recommend a company which will APPROVE your application at your best rate, since we know you can apply elsewhere and cancel our policy. Make sense?
How important is all this extra shopping? It's not uncommon for us to save clients 50% or more on their life insurance premiums. For instance, A+ rated Prudential (the "own a piece of the rock" company) allows unlimited cigar smoking without triggering a "smokers" rate, whereas other companies give you a "tobacco" rate if you smoke more the 48 cigars a year.
How Much Can This Simple Tip Save You On Life Insurance?
The savings on a long term policy? About 50%.
Another factor we deal with every day is "build"...our height/weight ratio or BMI (Body Mass Index). Some insurance companies want us to look the way we did in high school. Ain't happening for most of us!
Others are more reasonable...and some even have a sliding scale as we age. (Now that sounds more fair!)
For example: a 6-foot tall man who weighs 221 pounds will get the best rate category (preferred plus) with some companies, while others will knock him down to the second or third rate category (preferred or standard plus), resulting in a 10-20% higher premium.
Over the course of 20-30 years, this one factor could be the difference of hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. Investing that savings for 20-30 years in S&P Index Fund is going to make a lot more sense.
"Build" is just one of roughly 25 underwriting criteria a quality insurance company will look at.
Find Completely Customized Coverage and Save Thousands
Every person we speak to is unique...some people take one, two or more medications, have family history or serious health issue themselves, enjoy a nightly cigar (probably a Prudential candidate)....or even in exceptional health, but scuba dive, which could be an issue to some insurers.
Keep in mind, the more questions they ask, the better. Why is that? The fewer questions, the higher risk the insurer is assuming. Higher Risk = Higher Cost.
In the eyes of insurance companies, just about everything fun in life poses a risk. For instance, things such as:
Other people like to rock climb in their free time. This also poses a higher risk. For people in these situations, knowing which life insurance companies offer the best rates for high risk individuals can literally save you thousands of dollars on life insurance over the life of a policy.
Are you a bit of a risk taker? Not a problem, we can still find you super affordable life insurance. Read some of these comprehensive guides to understand what you should be paying, what your options are, and how to save money on life insurance for high risk individuals:
7. Find Your Insurance Company's "Death Benefit Sweet Spot"
Death benefit "sweet spot?" Sounds like an oxymoron.... but this is one of the best tips for finding affordable life insurance. In the life insurance industry there are price breaks (they can't call them discounts) at certain levels, and they vary by company.
Most term life is sold for men and women under 60 with a minimum "face value" (death benefit) of $100,000. You may have determined you "need" $75,000, but may pay less for a $100,000 policy since there may be hundreds of companies selling at that level, and only a handful selling $75,000 policies.
As a rule of thumb, most policies offer best rates at quarter million dollar increments... 250k, 500k, 750k and 1000k. That's where you'll see them advertise, and they'll make adjustments to be competitive. The cost per thousand also generally drops at policies above $1 million.
There are exceptions to the quarter million increment "rule." Principal Financial offers their first price break at $200,000...often giving them the edge at this death benefit. Your age, health, and overall risk profile is usually the determining factor, but, if you're like me, you always want your best value. And practically speaking, we've never had a grieving widow tell us she was receiving too much money, from her husband's life insurance, only "not enough!"
BOTTOM LINE: Work with an experience agent who is not an order taker...they'll know the price break levels and provide comparisons. It may be worth spending a few more dollars monthly (or even a few dollars less!) for a policy that will provide significantly more benefit to your family if you die. A good agent will share their knowledge of the industry, including pricing structures, to help you obtain the most bang for your buck.
8. Reduce Your Life Insurance Death Benefit
When a client suffers a job loss, or something else changes in their life where it makes sense to reduce their insurance rather than cancel entirely - we often get the question, "Can I reduce my life insurance coverage (to save money)?"
Most people aren't aware they may be able to reduce the death benefit of their policy once it's in force. Banner Life (A+ rated) offers a one-time reduction written in their policies.
Others will consider "on request." You're better making this request directly, threatening to cancel if you can't make the change. They'll often do so to retain a customer.
BOTTOM LINE: If you need less life insurance than you're currently paying for, or have suffered health issues and will need coverage longer than your term policy will provide, call your agent or insurance carrier and ask them to explain your options and your GUL option date. They won't call you...so be proactive!
9. Converting Term Life Insurance to Permanent Coverage
Another hidden tip that can save you money on life insurance is as a result of the ability to "convert" your term life insurance to a fixed rate lifetime policy.
One of the most important features is there are no new health questions or medical exams - your health rating used is the same as when you took the policy out, not factoring in subsequent health changes. This can be huge.
I've helped clients who've had a quadruple bypass convert their large term policywhich was about to expire to a smaller lifetime policy, called a Guaranteed Universal Life (UL) Policy or "GUL," which at their present age, was a better fit for their present needs.
Each term life policy as a "conversion age," usually in your 60's or by age 70, so check your policy or with your agent so you know your options. You rarely want to be reapplying for life insurance at this age if you can avoid it.
Who is Term Life Insurance Conversion Best For?
Converting a term to a permanent policy is best for anyone whose health has declined over the course of their term policy to such a degree that they know their costs for coverage would increase tremendously were they to undergo a medical exam.
It is also best for anyone who still needs coverage but has reached an age where the costs increase. This is basically everyone. Remember that costs for coverage increase each year your age does, and if you are above age 60, you are going to have fewer options at your disposal for new policies. Converting the policy you have might be in your best financial interest.
Changing to a guaranteed universal life policy is best for those whose financial needs have changed since they took out their original policy.
For Example: anyone who had previously taken out a term policy to cover car debt, a mortgage, and credit card debt but no longer has any of those three. It is also best for anyone whose health has changed, as aforementioned.
Term Conversion Options
When you consider your changing needs, you need to consider reducing the death benefit you are buying. Depending on the company you have the option to switch your term by:
- Extending the lifespan of the term on an annual basis, maintaining the same coverage you have, but without adding another 10 years minimum. This is best for those who might have one or two more years of debt they want protection for.
- Converting your term policy to a permanent policy without undergoing a medical exam. Most companies with a conversion option will not require a new application or exam.
- Changing your policy amount at the time of conversion to one with reduced or increased coverage.
- Changing the policy to a new policy, like the guaranteed issue for protection against the cost of final expenses.
10: Bundle Your Life and Home Insurance Policies for HUGE Savings!
Here's another UNEXPECTED tip for saving money on life insurance from JRC, because we care more about you getting coverage than whether or not you buy insurance from us... If you have auto and home insurance, ask your agent if they provide life insurance.
In some cases, when you add a second or third insurance policy, they'll give you a multi-policy discount. This discount may not be much, but in my case (with Farmer's) I was able to add a $50,000 policy for my wife completely free of charge!
That's because by adding a third policy they gave me a discount on my auto and home, and even though it was a small percentage, since it was taken from a large premium, I was able to add her life insurance for free.
Pros and Cons of Bundling Life Insurance
|J.D. Power and Associates found 58% of customers bundle successfully for auto, home, and life.||Some insurance bundles might make you ineligible for future discounts.|
|Bundling is cost effective and reduces the total insurance cost by between 3% and 22%||Not all bundles are the same for every carrier, so the insurance bundle you are considering might not be the one with optimal coverage AND best price.|
|Using the same insurance provider makes it easier to manage rather than juggling separate policies for all forms of personal insurance with separate companies.||You might have to switch insurers to get the bundle you want which brings with it upfront work/costs but long term benefits.|
Best Life Insurance Companies for Bundling Policies
Lots of companies offer policy bundles, but overall, these are some of the best companies in terms of savings and policy options:BOTTOM LINE: We don't offer auto or home insurance, but be sure to ask your insurance agent how much it costs to add a life insurance policy.
Frequently Asked Questions About Saving Money On Life Insurance
Look, we have helped hundreds of clients to save thousands of dollars on life insurance policies. Over our careers, we have encountered a lot of clients with the same questions and concerns about the cost of their life insurance policies. So, we wanted to address some of these questions for you:
1. Is it cheaper to buy term or permanent life insurance?
That is based on your situation, your health, and your age. At a certain point, you have to add up what the monthly premiums would be for a term policy compared to a permanent policy and see what cost savings you can achieve. The younger you are, and the healthier you are, the more you will save long term.
In short, the answer to this question - in terms of traditional policies - is no. Most permanent life insurance policies are far more expensive than term life policies.
However, non-traditional permanent policies such as Burial and Guaranteed Universal Life can be cheaper for people in certain situations, such as:
- People above age 60
- People who are terminally ill
- People in poor health
- People with low coverage needs
BOTTOM LINE: If you are not sure which type of policy is best for you, speak with an agent first. Our agents can help you assess the short and long term costs.
2. How can I save money on life insurance as a smoker?The most important tip you can use to save money on life insurance as a smoker is to shop around and know which companies are best.
- Quit smoking
- Ask for a re-evaluation if you have quit
- Maintain good health otherwise
3. Should I buy insurance when I am younger, or wait until I have more financial need?Just because you are in your 20’s or 30’s and don’t yet have things like a mortgage does not mean you should not take out life insurance. If you get it while you are younger, you can lock in cheaper rates for the long term.
A $100,000 30-year term life insurance policy for someone in their early 20's who is in excellent health can cost under $10 a month. That's paying the price of a Chipotle burrito (with guac) in order to secure that rate for the next 30 years, and potentially beyond!So, while your friends may make fun of you, or question your financial decision to spend a few hundred dollars or less per year on an insurance policy you don't yet have a need for, future you will be shaking your hand - while future friends shake their heads.
4. Can you negotiate life insurance rates?Alright, I'm going to let you in on a little financial secret - everything is negotiable. This includes the price of life insurance. One of the least talked about tips to saving money on life insurance rates is taking the time to negotiate the rate of your policy with your insurer.
Have More Questions About Saving Money On Life Insurance?
We're here to help. JRC Insurance Group's agents average 10+ years of experience in field underwriting. Most of us came over from one of the busiest term life agencies in the country, where we were limited to how much time we could spend with a customer.
That won't happen here....we're owners of the business, and glad to answer your questions so you can make informed decisions. Click the button below to get a free quote today, or give us a call, toll-free at: 855-247-9555.
Chris is a co-founder of JRC Insurance Group. Prior to founding JRC, he owned his own agency, and he has been a licensed life insurance agent since 2014. Chris is a die-hard San Diego Padres fan, and in his spare time he enjoys reading, ping pong, poker, and spending time with his wife and three daughters.