Just as annual medical check-ups help you maintain proper health, regular insurance plan reviews can provide invaluable benefits. Evaluating current insurance policies once a year or every two years can help to ensure your policies are keeping up with your changing circumstances and may even result in re-rated and reduced premiums.
Too often, individuals purchase insurance policies, begin paying premiums and never think about those policies again. However, like life, insurance is dynamic. Major life events, such as marriage, divorce, births of children and employment status, can affect individuals’ insurance needs and the intended uses of policy benefits. The reasons for purchasing a policy today may not apply in the future, and benefits planned today may not be sufficient to meet one’s needs or the needs of his or her beneficiaries 10 years from now.
Permanent cash-value life insurance policies build cash value and subsequent death benefits during a policyholder’s lifetime. With a whole life policy, the premiums are guaranteed for the entirety of the policyholder’s life. Conversely, premiums associated with a non-guaranteed universal life policy can vary during the insured’s lifetime, depending on the insurance company’s credited interest rate, mortality cost and company administrative expenses. As a result, individuals who purchased universal life policies in the early 2000’s, when interest rates were hovering at 6 percent, will likely be subject to premium payment increases during their lifetimes. Similarly, premiums for universal life policies have the potential to decline over the course of one’s lifetime, which would be the case for individuals who purchased policies over the past few years when rates have been at historic lows. This, of course, assumes that interest rates will return to their historical average in the future.
With these facts in mind, it is critical to continuously monitor your permanent life insurance policy to ensure the premiums you pay will provide the death benefit for which you initially planned. Oftentimes, you may need to consider policy changes or other, supplemental investment vehicles.
Life insurance is also an effective succession planning tool used by closely held businesses to fund buy-sell agreements between their owners/shareholders. It works by each owner taking out a life insurance policy. Upon the death of one owner, insurance proceeds are passed to surviving owners who then purchase the decedent’s interests in the business. Not only does this provide surviving owners with immediate liquidity to carry on their business operations, but it also provides them with the assurance that the deceased owners’ interest will not pass to a third party with whom they do wish to work. However, over the life of a business, succession plans may change and the features and benefits of an original insurance policy may no longer apply in the future. It is not uncommon for owners to alter policies to meet new funding needs or to rely on alternative vehicles to supplement existing sources of funding.
One of the most overlooked aspects of regular insurance check-ups is policyholders’ ability to potentially reduce their premium payments. Mortality costs and interest rates change, as do the products and services offered by insurance companies competing for customers in a constantly evolving market. At times, you may qualify for a policy re-rate or, depending upon your health, you may be able to move into a new policy with lower premiums. For example, if you are a smoker or you have high blood pressure or another chronic health issue, it is likely your policy premiums will be high. However, if you take the steps to improve these health issues and sustain them over time, the insurance company may agree to a lower policy rate.
Policyholders also may be able to change their rates when their circumstances change. For example, you may have secured a life insurance policy to ensure your beneficiaries have ample money to remain in your family home or to cover the costs of a child’s college education after you pass away. However, you may reach a point in your lifetimes when you no longer need these protective provisions, whether your child has graduated college or you have already paid off the mortgage on the family home. In these instances, you may wish to reduce the amount of the death benefit paid to heirs upon your death, which would consequently reduce the premiums you pay during your life.
Annual insurance policy check-ups should not be limited to life insurance. Rather, it behooves you to regularly review all policies you hold, include auto, home, disability and long-term care policies to ensure they continue to meet your evolving needs and their rates remain competitive within the market.
About the Author: Scott Montgomery is a director with Provenance Wealth Advisors, an Independent Registered Investment Advisor affiliated with Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors + CPAs, and a registered representative with Raymond James Financial Services. For more information, call (954) 712-8888 or email email@example.com.
Provenance Wealth Advisors (PWA), 515 E. Las Olas Blvd., Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301 (954) 712-8888.
Scott Montgomery is a registered representative of and offers securities through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC.
Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse the opinions or services of Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors + CPAs. PWA is not a registered broker/dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services. Investment Advisory Services offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc., and Provenance Wealth Advisors. This material is being provided for information purposes only and is not a complete description, nor is it a recommendation. Any opinions are those of the advisors of PWA and not necessarily those of Raymond James. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation.
Investments mentioned may not be suitable for all investors. Life insurance and long-term care insurance policies have exclusions and/or limitations. The cost and availability of life insurance and long-term care insurance depends on factors such as age, health, and the type and amount of insurance purchased. As with most financial decisions, there are expenses associated with the purchase of life insurance and long-term care insurance. Life insurance policies commonly have mortality and expense charges. In addition, if a policy is surrendered prematurely, there may be surrender charges and income tax implications. Guarantees are based on the claims paying ability of the insurance company.
Posted October 28, 2021