Life insurance can be the foundation of your financial confidence and can provide comfort and stability for your family. The purpose of life insurance is to help provide your loved ones with financial protection after you die, in exchange for the premiums you pay to your insurer during your lifetime. Some life insurance policies can provide you with financial protection for the short term, while others accumulate cash value, offering a living benefit that can be used for supplemental retirement income, funding for a child’s education, or cash for emergencies1. Some whole life policies do not have cash values in the first two years of the policy and don’t pay a dividend until the policy’s third year. Talk to your financial representative and refer to your individual whole life policy illustration for more information.
Term Life Insurance
Term life insurance provides coverage for a set period of time at a generally lower cost than permanent insurance. Many term life insurance products allow you to convert to a permanent policy, such as whole life insurance. The cost of insuring oneself increases over time, so it is important to understand your short- and long-term needs for financial confidence when you select a policy.
Permanent Life Insurance
Permanent life insurance provides you with financial protection for your entire life, as long as the policy remains in force. Because of the flexibility permanent life insurance offers, there are several types of policies you can purchase.
- Whole Life Insurance. The benefits of whole life insurance include guaranteed fixed premiums, a guaranteed death benefit and guaranteed cash value growth. This means that with whole life insurance, your premiums never increase as long as they’re paid, and you can also take advantage of “living benefits,” which enable you to borrow against the cash value of the policy for any purpose while you’re alive1. Borrowing cash from the policy can help in financing life-changing events or emergencies, and the policy’s cash value accumulates on a tax-deferred basis. One thing to keep in mind when purchasing whole life insurance is that loans reduce the death benefit of your policy, and loan interest should be repaid in order to prevent lapse.2
- Universal Life Insurance. Universal life insurance provides lifetime death benefit protection along with flexibility that gives you choices as your needs and finances change. It offers options such as coverage amounts that may be increased or decreased, and premiums that you can vary based on your finances as long as there is enough money in the account to pay for the monthly insurance and administrative charges.3
- Variable Universal Life Insurance. Variable universal life introduces an investment component. With variable universal life, you can allocate net premiums and account values among divisions of a separate account and guaranteed principal account4. You can direct a portion of your net premium payments to any of the investment options available through the separate account depending on the particular variable universal life product. Each investment option offers a different level of risk and growth potential. One feature of variable universal life insurance (and universal life) is its premium flexibility: you can skip payments as long as your policy has accumulated enough account value to meet the monthly deductions. Also, you can add numerous riders to your policy. Riders are available for an additional premium.5 Riders may incur an additional cost or premium. Riders may not be avaliable in all states.
- Survivorship Life Insurance. Survivorship life insurance is a form of permanent life insurance that covers two people on one policy and pays a death benefit after both people on the policy have died. The cost for survivorship life insurance is usually lower than the cost of two individual policies.
- Policy benefits are reduced by any outstanding loan or loan interest and/or withdrawals. Dividends, if any, are affected by policy loans and loan interest. Withdrawals above the cost basis may result in taxable ordinary income. If the policy lapses, or is surrendered, any outstanding loans considered gain in the policy may be subject to ordinary income taxes. If the policy is a Modified Endowment Contract (MEC), loans are treated like withdrawals, but as gain first, subject to ordinary income taxes. If the policy owner is under 59 ½, any taxable withdrawal may also be subject to a 10% federal tax penalty.
- Whole life insurance is intended to provide death benefit protection for an individual’s entire life. With payment of the required guaranteed premiums, you will receive a guaranteed death benefit and guaranteed cash values inside the policy. Guarantees are based on the claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company. Dividends are not guaranteed and are declared annually by the issuing insurance company’s board of directors. Any loans or withdrawals reduce the policy’s death benefits and cash values, and affect the policy’s dividend and guarantees. Whole life insurance should be considered for its long term value. Early cash value accumulation and early payment of dividends depend upon policy type and/or policy design, and cash value accumulation is offset by insurance and company expenses. Consult with your financial representative and refer to your whole life insurance illustration for more information about your particular whole life insurance policy.
- Universal Life Insurance may lapse prematurely due to inadequate funding (low or no premium), increase in cost of insurance rates as the insured grows older, and a low interest crediting rate. This does not apply to universal life policies which have a secondary guarantee, but if the secondary guarantee requirements are not met the policy will most likely lapse.
- Guarantees are based on the claims paying ability of the issuing company or companies.
- Variable Universal Life policies provide death benefit protection and are long term investment vehicles with potential cash value accumulation. There are limitations, fees and expenses associated with the policy. All guarantees including the death benefit payments are dependent on the claims paying ability of the issuing company and do not apply to the investment performance or safety of the underlying investment options within the policy.
Investors are asked to consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of the underlying investment options carefully before completing application, investing, or sending money. Both the product prospectus and the underlying fund prospectuses contain this and other information about the product and underlying investment options. Please read the prospectuses carefully before investing.
Disability Income Insurance
A sudden interruption of income—due to an extended period of sickness or injury—can have serious financial consequences for many of today’s employees. If you are lucky, you may receive group long term disability benefits through your employer. However, you will need to make sure the benefits available though your group long term disability coverage are adequate for your needs. Group long term disability benefits are taxable if your employer pays the premiums, may be capped at a relatively low amount, and may not cover variable income such as bonuses or commissions. As such, these benefits may not be enough to maintain your lifestyle or pay all your bills if you become too sick or injured to work.
An individual disability income insurance policy can help supplement your group long term disability benefits and protect a larger portion of your income. This, in turn, provides a fundamental layer of security for your financial future. An individual disability income insurance policy you purchase on your own is fully portable, meaning you won’t have to worry about losing coverage if you change jobs, and the benefits paid are tax free if you are the premium payor1. In addition, an individual disability income insurance policy is non-cancelable by the carrier (as long as the premiums are paid), and with a guaranteed renewable policy, your premiums will never change for the life of the policy.
1The information provided is not written or intended as tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for purposes of avoiding any Federal tax penalties. We are not authorized to give tax or legal advice. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel.
Disability income insurance policies have exclusions and limitations.
Individual disability income products underwritten and issued by Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America (BLICOA), Pittsfield, MA. BLICOA is a wholly owned stock subsidiary of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. Product provisions and availability may vary by state.
Long Term Care Insurance
For most of us, it is unpleasant to envision a time when performing routine tasks may become difficult as the result of injury, illness or aging. If the time comes when you need substantial assistance performing daily tasks, it is unlikely you will want cost to be the primary decision-making factor for your long term care. Long term care (LTC) services can be expensive and costs generally continue to rise. Planning early can help ensure that you have more control in receiving the type of care you want — in the setting you choose, should the need arise.
What is Long Term Care?
Long term care includes a variety of services and supports to help meet personal care needs over an extended period of time. The services include help performing Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), such as: bathing, continence, using the toilet, transferring to/from a bed or chair, dressing and eating. Long term care services are generally not covered under personal health insurance or Medicare because they are not intended to cure, improve or treat a specific medical condition. Medicaid may help individuals with income and assets below state requirements.1
Whether long term care services occur in a nursing home, assisted living facility or your own home, the costs can be a huge expense. The average stay in a nursing home is 835 days (2.3 years) and $183,700.2 The national median hourly rate for a home health aide is $20 and that can add up quickly.3
Potential Ways to Pay for Care
A variety of sources may be used when expenses do not qualify under Medicare or personal health insurance.
Family & Friends
When professional long term care is necessary, one option is paying with your own resources such as savings, investments, income (pension, Social Security, annuities) or even your home or home equity. Consider how long these sources might last and what other goals may be unfulfilled if these funds were used for care.
State Medical Program
What is Long Term Care?
As you can see, there are many alternatives to consider when preparing for the possibility that you may need long term care. Generally, beginning early has advantages. First, at younger ages, you are more likely to be healthy and qualify for various types of insurance. Second, starting early means you may be able to meet your goal with lower installment savings amounts or annual premiums.
You don’t have to prepare for long term care expenses alone. Our Financial Services Representatives can review a variety of solutions that may help you meet your goals.
1 For more information regarding benefits provided by Medicare or Medicaid (Medi-CAL in California) visit www.cms.hhs.gov. Medicaid guidelines vary by state. Contact your local Medicaid office for details.
2 National Nursing Home Survey 2014, National Center for Health Statistics.
3 Cost of Care Survey, Genworth, June 2015.