Who Needs Adequate Insurance?

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Who likes to talk about insurance? Very few people.

Who needs adequate insurance? Everyone. In fact, if you're going to achieve your long-term financial goals, you'll need to make sure you've got the proper coverage to protect yourself and your family.

Unfortunately, many people aren't doing this, as these numbers show:

The average household requires more than $450,000 in life insurance, yet has only about $126,000 in coverage, according to a recent report issued by the Society of Financial Service Professionals.

About 40 percent of adult Americans have no life insurance, according to insweb.com, a Web site devoted to insurance issues.

If you're one of those who are uninsured or underinsured, you need to take action soon -- because no one can predict the future.

How much insurance -- and what type?

Your insurance needs will change throughout your life. If you're single, and you rent an apartment, you may not need much insurance at all. But fast forward a few years -- you're married and you have a house.

Now, you need at least enough life insurance to enable your spouse to pay off your mortgage, should you die early.

Add on a few more years, and maybe you have a couple of children; at this point, you need to be able to leave enough money to help pay for college.

To determine about how much insurance you'll need at different stages of your life, consult with a financial services professional -- someone who can analyze your family and financial situations and help you come up with the right number.

But you'll also need to decide what type of insurance is appropriate for your situation. Here are two options:

Term insurance

When you're first starting out in your career, you may want to consider a term insurance policy.

Term insurance is "pure" insurance; you get a death benefit, but no build-up of cash value. You'll find that term insurance premiums are generally quite affordable, although they become less so, as you get older.

Permanent insurance

If you want a death benefit and an investment component, you might choose some type of "permanent" insurance, such as whole life, universal life or variable universal life.

Depending on which policy you choose, you can earn a fixed or variable rate of return.

Your earnings have the potential to grow on a tax-deferred basis, and you can use your account's cash value to help pay for your children's college or to help fund your own retirement.

Beyond life insurance

While life insurance is essential, it isn't the only type of protection you'll need.

At some time in their careers, about 30 percent of Americans age 35 to 65 will suffer a disability lasting at least 90 days, according to the Health Insurance Association of America.

Even a short-term disruption to your income could cause you to dip into your investments -- and a long-term illness or injury could be disastrous.

Your employer may offer some disability coverage, but it may be insufficient, so you might need to purchase an individual disability income policy.

If you're not sure that you have enough life or disability insurance, find out what you need -- and then acquire it. No matter how smart an investor you may be, your financial security will remain incomplete, unless you've got the right coverage at the right time.

-- Ross Hage is a licensed financial adviser with the firm of Edward Jones. For more information, call him at (928) 468-2281.

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