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Ask the Life Insurance Expert

Should I buy life insurance to insure my infant son? I heard this can be a good savings tool.

Some life insurance experts say policies for children are a good idea as part of a larger savings and investment strategy. But critics advise against such policies for most families.

On the plus side, buying a permanent life insurance policy protects a child's insurability. Say, for instance, your son developed a condition later in life that made qualifying for life insurance difficult. Buying a policy now would make certain he had some life insurance in place even if his health deteriorated.

Permanent life insurance policies feature a cash value account that grows over time. The policyholder can borrow against or withdraw money from the account (although withdrawals reduce the death benefit). In today's low-interest environment, permanent life insurance can be an attractive investment tool.

But some experts say there are better ways to invest for a child's future, such as 529 plans for college education savings. And before you start thinking about insuring your son's life, make sure you and his mother are property insured, so your child's future is protected in case one of you dies prematurely. The main purpose of life insurance, after all, is to replace the income of a provider.

If you decide to go ahead and purchase life insurance as an investment for your son, keep in mind that permanent life insurance policies come in many varieties. Work with an adviser who truly has your best interests at heart and is willing to take the time to explain the options.

For more, see Too young for life insurance? The debate over policies for children.

Last updated: Mar. 23, 2012