Unless you’ve amassed great amounts of wealth and several high-value assets, you probably need some life insurance coverage to help protect your loved ones. But how much life insurance do you really need?
Determining your coverage amount is one of the first steps to getting properly insured. While some people may opt to just take a shot in the dark and choose an amount that sounds good, this isn’t always the smartest choice.
It’s important that you determine your insurable need which will help you know how much coverage is just enough. Being over or under-insured is more common than you’d realize. If you’re wondering how much life insurance you need, here are a few questions to ask yourself.
Do I Have Dependents?
If you’re single with no kids, you may not need as much life insurance coverage as someone who’s married with two kids. Having dependents makes a huge difference. It means that someone else is depending on your (often times financially) for their care.
If you were no longer around, that support would not be available to that person or those people. This is where a sizable life insurance benefit can come in handy.
Even if you have a spouse and no kids, realize that your partner may be depending on you as well. If you are both working together to pay bills and fund your lifestyle, this is something to consider when determining how much life insurance coverage you need.
How Much Debt Do You Have?
I don’t know anyone who likes having debt. That said, I know many people don’t want to leave their debt as a burden on their family. Life insurance can help prevent this from happening. If you have a ton of student loan debt or other loans, make sure your life insurance coverage amount is enough to cover these debts.
For example, if you have are single with no kids but own a home with a $200,000 mortgage and have $50,000 in student loan debt, this should be considered when determining your life insurance coverage amount.
What Is Your Income?
The larger your income is, the more life insurance you may need. Odds are, your family is accustomed to a certain lifestyle that your income provides.
One basic rule of thumb is that your life insurance coverage should be equal to 7 to 10 times your annual salary. This is a good starting point, but be sure to include these other factors as well when determining the right amount for you.
What Are Your Monthly Expenses?
Everyone should have a budget. If you’re trying to get life insurance, you’ll want to review your budget and see what expenses you have that life insurance can help your family maintain.
Consider non-negotiable costs like your rent or mortgage payment and other bills. Do your kids have extra-curricular activities? How much are your other insurance premiums like for medical and dental care? Also, look at future goals and what those expenses could look like.
Do you plan to help your kids with college expenses? What will your childcare costs add up to over the years? How much will home repairs and maintenance cost over time?
Are You a Stay at Home Parent?
One of the biggest myths out there is that stay-at-home parents don’t need life insurance. Since you’re not earning an income, there’s not much to insure right?
This is not entirely true. Being a stay-at-home parent is a high-value job even if it doesn’t result in direct compensation. When you think about it, some families have one parent stay home to support the other parent who is working and growing their career.
It both parents just work all the time, the household and family unit would fall apart. I find it interesting to see that the median annual estimated value for the work of a stay-at-home spouse or mother in 2019 was $178,201.
If you’re a stay-at-home parent who’s uninsured or under insured, you could be leaving your family financially vulnerable. Think of your partner having to pay for childcare, housekeeping, meals, laundry services and other expenses. It all adds up but having life insurance coverage could help.
So How Much Life Insurance Do You Really Need?
After answering some of those questions, you should have a much better idea of how much life insurance you need. Start by adding up all your expenses, liabilities and future anticipated costs. Try to come up with an annual sum. Compare this to your annual income to see if you may need to get more or less coverage.
The next step is to simply decide how long you want coverage for. Term life insurance is a great option because it’s affordable and easy to obtain.
Companies like Bestow allow you to get coverage up to $1 million and pay affordable rates. You can get a quote for free on their site so you’ll have more information about locking in a coverage amount you feel comfortable with.
As someone who’s in their late 20s, Bestow gave me a quote of just $22 per month for $500,000 of coverage over the next 10 years.
At the end of the day, realize that some life insurance coverage is better than nothing. Term life insurance is flexible where you can always choose a shorter-term then add more coverage once your term is up.
Do you have life insurance? How did you determine your insurable need?