Ask the Life Insurance Expert

Can I change the amount of coverage on my term life insurance policy during the duration of the term?

No, you can't change your level of coverage on that policy, but you could buy an additional small term life policy to provide the extra coverage you need.

Term life insurance provides protection for a certain time period, such as 10, 15, 20 or 30 years and pays out to beneficiaries if you die within that term, or covers you until you reach a certain age, such as 65 or 70. It's designed to replace your income if you die, so your family can cover expenses, such as mortgage payments or college tuition for your kids.

One option you might consider is "return of premium" term life insurance, which pays back your all or part of your premiums at the end of the term if you outlive the policy. Expect to pay more in premiums than you would on a comparable traditional term life insurance policy.

Instead of buying coverage in addition to the term life policy you already have, you could drop your old policy and buy a new, larger term life policy. Get life insurance quotes for both options to see which costs less.

Before you go shopping for any new life insurance products, though, review your finances and your dependents' needs to determine how much insurance you need. Take into account short- and long-term expenses they will bear if you die as well as the financial resources you already have.

In fact, it's a good idea to do a life insurance checkup every year to ensure you have enough insurance or you don't have more than you need. If you decide to apply for a new policy, make sure you understand the coverage and answer all the questions on the application accurately. 

Last updated: Sep. 8, 2010
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