Thursday, June 17, 2021

What Is Life Insurance Laddering?

One of the most confusing issues about buying life insurance is knowing how much you will need at different points of your life. As your personal situation changes over time, so will your life insurance needs. Marriage, having children, buying a home or starting a business can mean incremental differences in your coverage. 

And as you get older, your life insurance needs typically decrease. The kids have gone off to college or are on their own, the mortgage is paid and other debt has hopefully been eliminated. With all of this change going on, it makes sense to know what your foreseeable needs will be and adjust accordingly.

Sure, you could just buy one very large term policy to cover the next 20 to 30 years, but what happens after that? Burial insurance sounds good, but what if you should have some health issues that could prevent you from buying an affordable policy? The non-medical policies are okay, but they can be expensive.

This is when you should consider a strategy known as "laddering". Laddering is the practice of purchasing several term policies for different lengths of time and different face amounts. Since the policies are set to expire at different times, you only pay for the amount of coverage you need throughout your different life stages.

As an example, let's say that "Bob" is 35 years old, in good health and a non-smoker. After a quick review, Bob discovers he needs $1 million over the next 30 years. If he were to purchase a policy for $1 million, if may cost him about $75 each month, or $900 each year. Over the course of 30 years, Bob would pay $27,000. 

However, if Bob decided to purchase three smaller policies that had different terms, it would look something like this:

  • First policy - A 10-year term with a death benefit of $500,000 ($14 each month)
  • Second policy - A 20-year term with a death benefit of $300,000 ($16 each month)
  • Third policy - A 30-year term with a death benefit of $200,000 ($21 each month)
The total amount of coverage is $1 million, but the amount of premium Bob pays on a monthly basis is different throughout the years. And this saves Bob money. 

For the first 10 years, Bob pays $51 each month. At the end of the 10th year, the $500,000 will expire, which means Bob only pays $37 each month from year 11 through 20. At the end of the 20th year, the $300,000 policy will expire, which means Bob will only pay $21 each month from the 21st year until the end of the coverage period.

Bob's total premium over the 30 years is $13,080, which means he'll save $13,920! Not bad. And that difference could have been invested into a retirement plan or something else.

As you can see, Bob saved a ton of money plus he got the coverage he needed. During the first 10 years, Bob had $1 million dollars of coverage to pay off his mortgage and other financial obligates. In the second 10 years, with his mortgage principle decreasing, he still had $500,000 of coverage, which would have been sufficient at that point. Finally, in the last 10 years, his spouse could pay off the remaining bit of mortgage as well as take care of his funeral expenses and any other debts with the remaining $200,000.

Even though buying multiple policies may seem like more work, if they are all purchased at the same time through the same carrier, the bill can be consolidated and the savings will be well worth the time and effort. 

If you have questions about laddering your policies or anything else related to life insurance please drop us a note or book a short phone appointment with us. In the meantime, please stay healthy!

Chris Castanes is the president of Surf Financial Brokers, helping people find affordable life, disability, long term care, cancer, accident and other insurance coverages in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia. He's also is a professional speaker helping sales people be more productive and efficient, and has spoken to professional and civic organizations throughout the Southeast. And please subscribe to this blog!

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