Americans Willing to Risk Family’s Financial Security to Save Money in Tough Times

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LIFE Foundation Reviews Four Consequences of Canceling Your Life Insurance Policy, Offers Three Tips for How to Save on Premiums

Arlington, VA – September 18, 2008 Most Americans are feeling a pinch in their wallets these days, and the recent turmoil in the financial markets is only making matters worse. If you are one of the millions of Americans who is struggling to make ends meet, you are probably searching for places to trim the family budget. According to a new survey from the nonprofit LIFE Foundation, one place Americans are looking is their life insurance coverage. More than a quarter of adult Americans (27%) say they would cancel their life insurance policy to save money during tough economic times, a move the LIFE Foundation warns is fraught with financial risk.

In support of Life Insurance Awareness Month in September, the LIFE Foundation reviews often-overlooked consequences of canceling a life insurance policy and offers tips for how people can save money on premiums.
 
“Our survey shows that 75% of Americans with dependents are worried about how their family would manage financially should they die tomorrow. Canceling your life insurance policy will only increase the chances of such a fear becoming a reality,” said Marvin H. Feldman, CLU, ChFC, RFC, president and CEO of the LIFE Foundation. “With life insurance premiums more affordable than ever, the savings Americans will gain by dropping their coverage will never outweigh the financial devastation that would occur in the event of premature death.”

Overlooked consequences
For those currently considering dropping their life insurance coverage to free up money for other uses, the LIFE Foundation reviews four of the most overlooked consequences of canceling a policy.

  • * Your rate may go up. Be aware that life insurance premiums increase as you age, so the rate you currently have locked in may not be available to you at a later date. If you have to re-apply for coverage, you may end up paying more for the same amount and type of coverage that you currently own.
  • * You may have to retake a medical exam. If you drop your coverage now but decide to purchase a policy later, you’ll likely be asked to take another health exam. Since you’ll be older, your health status might have worsened, in which case it may be harder to qualify for coverage at an affordable rate.
  • * Policy provisions start over. Most life insurance policies include a number of incontestability clauses. These provisions specify that after a policy has been in force for a certain length of time, typically two years, the insurance company can no longer contest or void it except for nonpayment of premiums. If you cancel a policy and have to apply for coverage again, you’ll be subject to a new incontestability period.
  • * Surrender charges may apply. Permanent life insurance policies almost always have a surrender charge period, typically in the seven-year range. If you decide to cash out before it has expired, you may sacrifice some of the cash value you’ve earned over time.

Ways to save on life insurance premiums
Instead of cancelling a life insurance policy, the LIFE Foundation urges Americans to review the policies they own with an insurance professional to see if they have the ability to qualify for a lower premium. LIFE offers the following three tips to help people obtain a better deal:

  • * You’re healthier. If you have quit smoking, lost a substantial amount of weight or have made significant improvements to your health, you may be able to qualify for a lower premium. Consider that smokers pay anywhere from 100-150% more on life insurance premiums than nonsmokers.
  • * Rates have declined. Even if your health condition hasn’t changed, you still may be able to get a better rate on your coverage because life insurance rates have never been lower. In fact, the cost of basic term life insurance has fallen by about 50 percent over the past decade. If you decide to apply for new coverage in search of a better rate, make sure you don’t drop your current coverage until the new policy is in force.
  • * Circumstances have changed. It is smart to review your policy every year to make sure it’s adequate and up-to-date. If the kids are out of the house, your mortgage has been paid off, you’ve gotten divorced or family members no longer need your financial support, your need for life insurance coverage may have decreased. A smaller face amount policy will save you money.

About Life Insurance Awareness Month
Held each September, Life Insurance Awareness Month is an industry-wide effort that is coordinated by the nonprofit Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE). The campaign was created in response to growing concern about the large number of Americans who lack adequate life insurance protection. According to LIMRA International, an industry research firm, 68 million adult Americans have no life insurance. Those who own life insurance have an average of four times their annual income in coverage, which is considerably less than most experts recommend.  For more information on life insurance and to find a qualified insurance professional in your area, visit LIFE’s Web site at www.lifehappens.org.

About LIFE
The Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE) was founded in 1994 in response to the public’s growing need for information and education on life, health, disability and long-term care insurance.  LIFE also seeks to remind people of the important role insurance professionals perform in helping families, businesses and individuals find the insurance products that best fit their needs.  To learn more about these topics, please visit www.lifehappens.org.

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