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Group life insurance is a benefit usually offered by employers at very low cost. While coverage is inexpensive, in many cases it shouldn’t be your only life insurance. Instead, group life insurance should be used to supplement an individual life insurance policy.

Read on to learn more about group life insurance’s limitations and why it may not offer the coverage you need.

You can easily lose the coverage

The major downside to group life insurance coverage is that you can lose it at any time. For example, if your employer decides to eliminate the benefit to trim costs, you will no longer have coverage.

Additionally, if you lose your job or leave your job, you’ll also lose your coverage.

The death benefit may provide less coverage than you need

Most employer-sponsored coverage generally only provides a small death benefit amount — typically one to two times your annual salary. This amount works to supplement an individual plan, but it may not be enough to provide sole coverage, especially if you have young children. Life Happens, an industry group providing life insurance education, says one of the easiest ways to figure out how much coverage you need is to multiple your gross income by 10 to 15.

You have fewer choices of riders

You can customize a policy you buy on your own by choosing from a variety of additional features called life insurance riders. You can’t always customize the life insurance benefits your employer buys for you, and if you can, the options may be limited.

You can’t borrow from a group life policy or cash it in

Only permanent policies, such as whole life or universal life, feature a cash value component, which is an accompanying savings account that accumulates on a tax-deferred basis. You can borrow from the cash value and use the money for any purpose, whether it’s to pay college tuition or supplement your retirement. You can also surrender the policy for the surrender value.

Typically the life insurance offered as an employee benefit is term life, which has no cash value.

If you have unique financial needs and need a cash value life insurance policy, group coverage won’t suffice as your sole coverage.

How to buy an individual life insurance plan

Given the limited coverage you get from group life insurance, you will also need an individual policy to be sure your loved ones have a financial safety net after you’re gone.

To get a policy, shop around and compare quotes from at least three insurers to find a company that offers you the best policy at the most affordable price. Check out the best life insurance companies to know where to start.

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