When Brenda and Jake purchased their life insurance policies 20 years ago, they thought they did things the right way. They assessed their insurance needs, taking into account their home mortgage, the projected college education costs of their children, and their living expenses. Well, that was then. . .this is now.
Recently, as they contemplated retirement, Brenda and Jake reevaluated their insurance needs and were surprised to discover their insurance coverage is inadequate. How could this be? The answer, in a word, is inflation.
Because inflation affects purchasing power, it may also affect life insurance needs. For couples like Brenda and Jake, inflation means that life insurance coverage that was adequate years ago may now be insufficient. With this in mind, consider three of the more common uses for life insurance proceeds that may be affected by inflation:
Paying Off Your Mortgage. If you have recently purchased a new home or upgraded a home you already own, you may need to consider increasing your life insurance to help cover your mortgage payments. Insurance proceeds may be used to help pay off the mortgage in the event of the insured’s death.
Funding Future College Expenses. Compared to the previous year, the average annual cost of tuition, fees, room, and board for the 2008–09 academic year increased by over 5.5% at both private and public four-year colleges (The College Board, 2009). To be prepared, be sure to factor inflation into your college savings strategies. In addition, have a contingency plan in the form of adequate life insurance to help cover college expenses in the event of an untimely death. Review your strategy periodically, and consider increasing your coverage to reflect the anticipated future cost of higher education.
Maintaining Your St andard of Living. Over time, the costs associated with the normal expenses of everyday life, as well as the special pleasures most people look forward to in retirement—traveling, visiting children and gr andchildren, and engaging in favorite hobbies and leisure time activities—are affected by inflation. As a result, the lifestyle you hope to enjoy in retirement could be affected, too. Your life insurance coverage, based on yesterday’s needs and the current cost of goods and services, may be potentially shortchanging the future st andard of living of your loved ones. Factoring inflation into your life insurance program can help your loved ones maintain their lifestyle upon your death. In addition, if the policy allows, you can make withdrawals to fund your retirement years. However, any loans and withdrawals will decrease the amount of life insurance proceeds, and interest will be charged if the loan is not paid back before the insured dies.
Determining current life insurance needs is one thing, but figuring out how much coverage you’ll need in the future requires you to pay careful attention to inflation and how it can affect your family’s lifestyle. Regular reviews of your insurance coverage can make a great deal of sense. Plan to set aside time at least once each year to help ensure that your life insurance program is keeping up with inflation.
Copyright © 2010 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
This article appears courtesy of Karl Susman. Karl Susman is a representative of the New Engl and Life Insurance Company. He focuses on meeting the individual insurance and financial services needs of people on the West Coast. You can reach Karl at the office at (424) 785-4337. New Engl and Life Insurance Company, 501 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116