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Affordable Life Insurance In 2017 – The 8 Most Overlooked Savings Secrets

AFFORDABLE LIFE INSURANCE IN 2017 – THE 8 MOST OVERLOOKED SAVINGS SECRETS

Every industry has secrets.

In the life insurance industry, one of the biggest is “how to find affordable life insurance.”

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Skip Intro – See 8 Secrets

 


 

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 Insurances?

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 about commonly assumed “facts” about life Insurance which are completely untrue, and others hidden from the public 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.

Quick Article Guide:

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?

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:

  1. Income ReplacementI need $500,000 of coverage for 20 years
  2. Mortgage InsuranceI need $250,000 of coverage for 10 years

The financial planner sees I own a rental home, which has an outstanding mortgage of $250,000, and it won’t be paid off for 10 years.  I don’t want to leave my children an encumbered property, so we need life insurance to cover that.

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?

term policy layering

This approach is called “staggering” or “layering” policies.

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 10,_20,_and_30_year_term_layeringaway 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.

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 1200 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?

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.

a.m._best_rating_guide

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.

First_Colony_Genworth

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.

BOTTOM LINE: Shop through a reputable independent agent with underwriting experience, and go with their recommendation for an AM Best A-rated carrier offering your best price.

 

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.

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.

positives_and_negatives_of_group_life_insurance

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.

Group plans have 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.

The biggest problem we see is that many people believe they won’t need life insurance once they retire… and often they do. You can’t carry most group coverage beyond a year after retirement, so applying in your 60’s can be challenging.

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.

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.

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.

BOTTOM LINE: Explain to your independent agent why you need life insurance, and hope to accomplish. We may not make much commission on this policy, but hope to help your family in the friends in the future.

 

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.

Savings Example:

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.

 

6. The Saving Power of an Independent Agent

There are 2 types of agents in the life insurance industry:

  • Independent agents
  • Captive agents

The difference?  Local neighborhood agents such as your neighborhood 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.

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?

independent_agentHow 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.

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.
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.

BOTTOM LINE: An experienced independent life insurance agent should be matching you to the carrier best suited for you, your lifestyle and your need for coverage. For example, our agency, JRC Insurance Group impartially shops nearly 50 of the top rated companies. It’s a hassle to shop one company at a time, so why do it? Our clients seem to prefer the “one-stop shopping” approach…and we’ve never been told the 51st company had a better price!

 

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”. ING’s life insurance division, Reliastar, 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

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. We’re asked this question 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.

Another hidden feature where you may save money 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 policy which 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.

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!

 

BONUS TIP:  Bundle Your Policies

Here’s another UNEXPECTED tip 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.

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.

 

Questions?

We’re here to help. JRC Insurance Group’s agents average 5-10 years 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

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22 comments… add one
  • Chris Lalor November 5, 2014, 7:21 pm

    Excellent article Chris. Great tips. I’m going pass these along to my clients.

  • Dean holden March 17, 2015, 6:31 pm

    Please contact me Mr. Huntley, I would be interested in insuring through you.

  • tim May 12, 2015, 2:36 pm

    I am under 60 years and faced with renewal of a 10 year term policy or take on a GUL. My term rate was $393 / year. My invoice to renew another 10 years is $3600! I have been unable to decide as this is way out of line. Tempted to not have any insurance. the GUL will be even more expensive. This is with a well known national company. I have bundled policies already with the provider – 2 properties, 1 universal life, 3 vehicles. I can’t swallow the 10 fold increase on Life. Suggestions?

    • Randy McClintick May 23, 2015, 12:47 pm

      Mr. Dobson,

      Thanks for your post and question. When you hit the end of a term policy, it is very expensive to renew it, and the cost will typically increase annually. We normally recommend doing this only in the event of a terminal illness. Fortunately, that doesn’t seem to be your case!

      A good place to begin is with a pre-qualification phone interview to determine what rates you’re likely eligible for, from insurers good for your current age/health, by replacing your current policy with a new term policy, and determining why/if you still need life insurance. If it’s to cover the debt on the 2 properties and vehicles, many people in your situation will purchase a new 10 year term if their health allows them to qualify for a reasonable rate.

      If your kids and grown, properties paid off, and no one dependent upon your current income, you may not need a new policy. Outliving the need for life insurance is a good thing!

      We recommend reviewing your universal life policy if you haven’t done so in the past year or two. As you approach 60, cash which as been built up in younger years depletes at a increasing pace. With most UL policies, if an insured person dies, the insurance carrier pays the death claim but retains the cash reserves. It’s a good thing to check with your present company, as well as what is happening with these reserves over the next few years. Many of our clients “cash out” and reinvest in a vehicle where they have access to the funds, if needed. Yes you can borrow against a UL policy, but you’ll often need to repay a hefty interest rate, risk losing the policy, or have a reduced death benefit.

      Good luck! Give us a call if you’d like to discuss your options at (855) 247-9555. We’re licensed with 40+ carriers, but independent, looking after our after our clients’ needs first. We’ve found there’s plenty of business out there if you treat people honestly and respectfully.

  • Deanna R. Jones May 19, 2015, 12:23 pm

    Tip #5 in this article about paying less money for the same amount of coverage seems very helpful. I didn’t know that there are carriers that will allow their clients to purchase a policy using an annuity payment instead of using a lump sum. It would be great to save 10-15% for life insurance, so it seems like I should start asking carriers if I would be able to pay using an annuity payment.

  • Walter Kowalski May 21, 2015, 1:04 pm

    This article was most informative. My wife is pregnant with our first child and we’ve been thinking a lot about preparing for the future. I want to be sure that my wife and my child will be taken care of if something were to happen to me, so I want to get a life insurance policy. Your advice about using an independent broker to help me find the right policy for me was very helpful. I think I’ll take your advice.

  • Mia Boyd May 22, 2015, 1:51 pm

    My husband has been telling me that he’d like to get us life insurance. Even though we’re in our mid 50’s, I didn’t agree with him. I kept telling him that we couldn’t afford it. After reading this, it seems like he was right and I was wrong. We’ll make sure we follow your tip about looking into “the saving power of an independent agent”; will that really save us that much money? I really like the idea of saving money!

    • Randy McClintick May 23, 2015, 1:01 pm

      Ms. Boyd,

      Thank you for your post. Everyone we speak to has a unique, individual need for life insurance. We’ll be glad to discuss what you and your husband wish to accomplish, and provide accurate pre-qualified rates by phone. Our agents can answer questions for about how just about any health consideration affects the cost of life insurance. It varies by company, so important knowledge to have! With this information, you and Mr. Boyd can have a good conversation on whether it’s something important to you both and wish to pursue. Feel free to call us at (855) 247-9555. We’re on the West Coast, but licensed in 48 states. Our agents are available 8an-5pm Pacific Time. Best Regards.

      • Alice September 2, 2015, 7:32 am

        Good tips. Thanks

  • Aaron H. June 6, 2015, 11:18 am

    I believe the best way to save on life insurance is to get the policy early in life. The health status is always a concern for the providers. At young age, you are likely to live long which means the provider will receive more premiums. If you are a smoker, then the premium costs at least 3 times more than standard one. There are few more factors such as coverage amount, type of coverage (whole policy costs higher), location, profession etc which plays a role too.

    • Chris Huntley June 17, 2015, 10:38 am

      That’s also a good tip. Thanks Aaron.

  • David September 20, 2015, 2:25 am

    Chris, What I think is as a big company, it has better assets. More people which buys its policy thus will bring more profit to the company. I do not care about their expense in marketing or advertising, a bigger company with better record would not do something stupid to ruin their reputation, would it? I would be more assured if I could leave my money and future to a bigger reputation company.

    • Randy McClintick September 22, 2015, 10:14 am

      Bigger isn’t necessarily better. AIG was one of the largest insurers in the world when they did some “stupid” things which rightfully damaged their reputation. Fortunately, life insurance is one of the most heavily regulated industry in America, so policyholders weren’t affected and death claims continued to be paid. AIG’s life insurance division, American General, maintained its AM Best rating and financial standing while AIG had to bailed out by the US Government. Financial services companies like AIG must operate their life insurance divisions separately and autonomously and not co-mingle funds.

  • Drew October 12, 2015, 7:38 am

    I like what you said about big name insurance companies. Just because you have never heard of them, doesn’t mean they aren’t the best option for you and your needs. It’s a good idea to shop around. Thanks for the tips.

    • Randy McClintick October 25, 2015, 3:53 pm

      You’re welcome, Drew. The life insurance industry is heavily regulated on a State and Federal level. We believe that if you go with an AM Best A-rated insurer, you’ll be fine. As an additional level of security is provided by your State insurance commission. As an additional safety net, most guarantee the first $250,000. We recommend checking with your specific State.

  • Alba Flores October 23, 2015, 10:14 am

    Great information! Thank you for sharing it.

  • kiran January 15, 2016, 4:46 am

    very informative and useful.

  • Cyndi April 23, 2016, 12:20 am

    I read this post and immediately had questions. I’m a 40 something who is supported almost totally by my husbands income. We would like to prepare for death benefits or retirement- only God knows which comes first.
    I have noticed no one else seems to be confused about which avenue ( in terms of life insurance) is the best to take.
    I may go back to work, depending on jobs opening up in my field or if I relocate. We are concerned about either one of us surviving the other and being unburdened by any debts. Which is the best way to go. Currently we are in fair health, in our 40s, not on any serious medications or health diagnosis. We just want to feel comfortable enough to live without worry if one of us died unexpectedly or gets sick.
    Lastly, if we live a long life and it’s time to retire we want to
    Know we can live our lives fairly well and enjoy retiring.
    We are located in central Kentucky. Any thoughts?

    • Randy McClintick May 11, 2016, 1:04 pm

      Cyndi,

      I couldn’t tell if our previous response reached you. You are wise in considering the future and preparing now. Buying life insurance in your 40’s is generally much lower in cost, and easier to qualify for compared to trying to purchase at later ages. It’s like any type of insurance…you want to buy it while you’re a low risk, as your risk to the insurer of paying a future claim determines the cost. Make sense? Much like if you were wanting to insure a home you’re building in a forest at high risk of fires.

      And you’re also right….the variety of life insurance options can be confusing. Some people are uninsured because they never figured it out and didn’t want to make a mistake.

      We’re glad to review your options. We are licensed by the state of Kentucky to answer questions through the full application process. Give JRC a call at (855) 247-9555 and we’ll discuss what you’d like to protect and find your lowest cost options from a group of 40 highly rated life insurers including MetLife, Prudential, Nationwide and Transamerica.

  • Judy Wilson May 16, 2016, 11:11 am

    Thanks for posting this information for saving money on life insurance. I think it’s interesting how having multiple policies can help me save money. Your explanation of how this can work was really helpful. If signing up for a ten year $250,000 term policy, and a twenty year $500,000 term policy can help me save by 15% in the first ten years and 40% afterward, then this might be a good option.

  • Elvie Cledoro August 31, 2018, 1:05 pm

    I need help in buying life insurance.

    • Randy McClintick September 6, 2018, 11:12 am

      Elvie,

      We’ll be glad to help you shop for life insurance. There are many good companies and options depending upon your age, health, and reasons for buying coverage. We’ll help you evaluate and compare to best fit your needs and answer your questions. Call us at (855) 247-9555 and an agent licensed for your state will assist you.

      Best Regards,
      JRC Life Insurance Services
      (855) 247-9555

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