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If you think that buying life insurance is a one and done event — think again. 

Your life insurance needs change as you experience major life events.Getting married, buying a house, and having children are all examples of major life events that could impact your life insurance needs.

“Major life events, such as purchasing a home, a change in marital status or the birth of a child or grandchild, are always important times to review your policy, as these events could create the need for additional coverage or potentially lead to beneficiary changes,” says Stafford Thompson Jr., senior vice president for Life Product Management at Lincoln Financial Group.

Whenever you experience a major life event, you should evaluate your life insurance policy and determine what changes need to be made. It may be as simple as adjusting your beneficiary designations. Or you may find that you need more coverage, and need to apply for a bigger death benefit amount.

Whatever the change, don’t let it fall through the cracks until it’s too late.

Here is when you should reassess your life insurance policy:

Your policy is expiring

Term life policies can last from five to 30 years. If you have a term life insurance policy, you’ll want to evaluate your needs before your term ends. 

When that term is up, you have a few options: 

  • Convert the policy to permanent life, such as a whole life policy
  • Purchase a new term life policy
  • Allow your policy to expire

“If you have a term policy that’s about to reach its end date and you still need coverage, you’ll want to make sure you evaluate your options,” says Thompson.

You’re getting married

If you’re getting married, you’ll want to make sure to add your spouse as a beneficiary to your policy. The death benefit would replace your income, or your portion of the expenses you share. Additionally, it’ll ensure your partner isn’t burdened by your debts if you die without paying them off.

Your family is growing

If you have a newborn or adopted a child, you’ll want to get coverage to ensure their financial security. While it isn’t wise to name minor children as your beneficiaries, make sure your beneficiary designation is someone who will use the money in their best interest. You should also have enough coverage to pay for the expenses you plan to cover for them, such as college tuition.

If you plan to have children, it’s wise to buy coverage as soon as possible. Life insurance rates increase with age.



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You’re getting divorced

If you’re getting divorced and have no reason for your former spouse to be listed on your policy — you don’t share children or any other financial obligations, for example — then you should remove them from your life insurance beneficiary designation.

Oftentimes, people forget to change the beneficiary. This becomes especially troublesome if they remarry. Once they die, a former spouse will receive the death benefit instead of the current spouse. No written document — not even a will — can override a life insurance beneficiary designation.

You’re starting a new job

With a salary jump, most people increase their expenses and standard of living. monthly. If your costs and financial obligations increase, you may need to increase the amount of coverage you have. Remember, most people get 10 to 15 times their income in life insurance coverage.

You’re starting or investing in a business

“If you’re a business owner, you’ll want to make sure that what you’ve worked so hard for is sufficiently protected, whether you’re starting the business, already own it or selling it,” Thompson says.

You’ll want to ensure your life insurance policy covers any financial obligations you have for your business.

Your health improves or you quit smoking

Smokers pay a much higher amount for life insurance than non-smokers. If you quit the habit, you may be eligible for lower premiums after some time.

The same holds true for your health. Those who are less healthy tend to pay higher premiums. So, if you have improved your health, make sure you talk to your life insurance agent about reconsidering your rates.

“If your health has improved, you may qualify for lower premiums or even plans that you could not access before,” says Thompson.

It’s the start of the new year

Every new year, you should sit down and evaluate changes that have happened over the last year and if those changes warrant more life insurance.

“As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to review your life insurance policy annually to ensure it continues to meet your needs,” says Thompson.

Though Thompson said an annual review is essential, that doesn’t mean you should make changes each year. 

“Reviewing your life insurance policy doesn’t necessarily mean changing it — it just means reevaluating it, based on what’s best for you and those you care for. Depending on the outcome, you may decide to keep it as is, make some adjustments or switch to a different policy altogether,” he says.

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