You may know that you should review your life insurance when you experience major life events like buying a home, getting married and starting a new job. But what about the not-so-obvious moments—especially when the COVID-19 pandemic has upset so many plans? These nine events are also important times to revisit your insurance.
1. Caring for an ill family member
In 2020, more than 50 million adults in the United States were caregivers (someone who provided care to an adult or a child with special needs at some time in the past 12 months), according to research from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. With the impact of the pandemic, especially on the elderly, caregivers feel even more pressure in their roles.
Caring for ill family members, such as aging parents, is no easy task—especially if you become their sole provider. Think of this life event as being like adding a child, or dependent, to your family.
Like most dependents, ill family members may need you for financial support—and this may take a chunk out of your future savings. Increasing your life insurance policy can help offset some of these costs.
And if something should happen to you, the planning you do to provide for family members becomes even more important. There again, life insurance can provide protection and peace of mind.
2. Sending your kids to college
When you’re preparing to send your kids to college, consider the tuition and additional expenses: groceries, school supplies, rent, utilities and so on. Review your life insurance policy to ensure it will cover these extra costs if something happens to you—and if it doesn’t, increase your coverage.
You could also consider the option of withdrawing from your policy’s cash value if you need help covering the costs. (Benefits paid from life insurance generally are tax-free and do not count against the student’s eligibility for financial aid.) But always talk to a life insurance specialist first to make sure it’s the best decision for your family.
3. Increasing your family’s size
If you’re having a baby, you’ve likely already reviewed your life insurance policy. But if you’re the grandparent, it may not occur to you to do the same. Even though your grandchildren are not your children, your family is still growing, so you may want to increase your life insurance coverage as well.
Many grandparents also gift their grandchildren life insurance policies to help them build financial security for the future. Generally, these policies transfer when the child turns 21—and they can either cash out the policy or continue the coverage. These policies usually come with a high value at a low cost. And depending on the type of policy, the premiums may not change as the cash value grows.
4. Downsizing or paying off your home
Downsizing your home is a life event when you should review your life insurance policy. If you’re cutting expenses, you may be able to downsize your policy as well.
5. Deciding to be a stay-at-home parent
With many schools having switched to online or hybrid instruction because of the pandemic, some parents who haven’t been able to work from home have decided to leave their jobs and stay home with their children. If you decide to become a stay-at-home parent, review your life insurance policy. Although being a stay-at-home parent is full-time work, it’s smart to think of this as being (in terms of income) unemployed—and take into account that your family will be living on less income.
When this happens, consider increasing your policy in case something happens to remaining sources of income—or to the stay-at-home parent—because new expenses, such as child care, might appear.
6. Incurring a major expense
One common time to review your life insurance is when you buy a house—but that’s not the only major purchase that should prompt a review. Other major expenses should work the same way.
These expenses could include a second home, a more expensive home, a new car, a big loan for college or even refinancing your house. Just as decreasing your debt allows you to reduce your coverage, increasing your debt may mean you need more coverage.
7. Receiving an inheritance
If you’re a life insurance policy beneficiary of someone who recently passed away, you’ll likely receive an inheritance. While the extra money is helpful in a time of grief, it’s also an indicator to that you should review your finances—including your insurance policy.
8. Experiencing the death of a beneficiary
When you’re grieving a loss, your life insurance policy is probably the last thing on your mind. But if someone you designated as a beneficiary passes away, you’ll need to review your life insurance policy. To change the beneficiary, contact your life insurance specialist.