Should Singles Even Consider Life Insurance?
Ask anyone if a single person without any dependents should get life insurance and you’ll almost certainly be told no. But like most financial decisions, it isn’t as black and white as that. Sure, if you’re just a single 30-something living alone without kids it would seem like buying term life insurance would be a huge waste. After all, who do you have that you can leave money to? You don’t have a spouse or children that depend on your income, so that isn’t an issue. This is all true, but there’s an interesting fact about life insurance that puts people who wait at a significant disadvantage.
It all has to do with the cost of premiums and insurability. In the insurance industry, the older and less healthy you are, the more you pay for insurance. When you think about it, this is common sense. Say a 20-year old wants to buy a 30-year term policy. The insurance company knows that the policy will expire when this person is just 50 years old. Statistics show that the chances of this person dying over the course of this term is quite low. Compare that to a 45-year old looking to buy the same 30-year policy. Now, the insured person will be 75 years old before the policy expires. This person has a much greater chance of dying during the length of the policy so the insurance company charges a significantly higher premium since they are assuming greater risk.
The same situation plays out in terms of your overall health. At 25 you might be in the best shape of your life and have no major medical conditions that have developed yet. So, an insurance company is likely to insure you since you don’t have any major health issues. Again, after another 10 or 20 years go by you may develop any number of health issues that could make you completely uninsurable. What if you waited a few years until you did get married or have kids only to find out that you now can’t give them the protection they need because you’ve developed a health condition that was completely out of your control?
Looking at the Numbers
So, what is the real difference in premium as a typical healthy person ages? I went ahead and ran some quotes for a number of insurers to see what we could come up with. For this I stuck with your standard 30-year level term $500,000 policy at the preferred non-smoking status. Here are the average numbers:
- 25 year old 30 year term – $525/year or $15,750 total
- 30 year old 30 year term – $550/year or $16,500 total
- 40 year old 30 year term – $810/year or $24,300 total
- 45 year old 30 year term – $1,420/year or $42,600 total
As you can see, there isn’t much difference between age 25 and 30. But look what happens when you let ten years slip by and want to buy the policy when you’re 40. The premium is 47% higher, costing you nearly $8,000 more over the term. Just five more years go by and you’ve nearly doubled that premium costing you more than $18,000 extra. It’s obvious to see how purchasing your term life insurance as soon as it’s appropriate to can save you thousands.
Ever wonder how much term life insurance would cost for you and your family? You can get a free quote.
So, Should a Single Person Buy Life Insurance?
Does this mean a single 30-year old guy should rush out and buy life insurance? Not exactly. You really have to look at your situation and lifestyle to see if is something you may end up needing in the future. For example, if you enjoy single life and never want to settle down with a spouse or have a family, there’s probably no need to buy insurance. But if you’re 30 and in a relationship and hope to finally settle down with someone and have a family in a few years you may want to start looking at your options. As you can see, just waiting 5 years to purchase insurance can make a big difference in how much you ultimately pay, so even if you’re covered for a few years while you aren’t married or have children it could still save thousands of dollars. Or, let’s not forget the worst-case scenario, where some health issue may come up in those few years while you wait and suddenly you can’t get insurance at all, or need to pay a premium so high it isn’t even affordable.
Take a look at your situation and see if it makes sense. If you’re already in a serious relationship and marriage is on the horizon the sooner you pick up coverage, the less you’re going to pay. If you don’t have any prospects of getting married or starting a family, then sure, you may want to spend that money elsewhere. It really depends on you and there’s no right or wrong answer.
Don’t let life insurance get in the way of your other financial goals when single. If you’re burdened with debt, have student loans, or otherwise need all the cash flow available while you’re single, keep that in mind. It isn’t worth saving money on insurance if it’s going to make it take longer to pay off high-interest debt.
But What About Beneficiaries?
If you aren’t married and don’t have kids, what’s the point? Who would you leave the money to? The great thing about life insurance is that you can usually change the beneficiary at any time. So, if you aren’t married yet and still decide to get a policy you can initially put anyone you want down as a beneficiary. Maybe it’s a brother or sister, your parents, another relative, or maybe even your favorite charity. Yes, that’s right, you can list a charity as your life insurance beneficiary. Even if the worst is to happen and you were to die before you do get married or have children you can be sure that your money is going to someone or a cause that you believe in. Then, all you have to do is update your beneficiary once you do decide to get married or have kids. It’s that simple.
Weigh Your Options
It still isn’t going to make sense for everyone, but you should at least take into consideration the increase in premium and total cost of a policy if you wait even a few years. Some situations may warrant the purchase of a policy before conventional wisdom says to, and in many cases the savings won’t be worth it if you’re not in a position to take advantage of it. That being said, insurance is a key component of any financial plan so it requires some serious consideration. Keep in mind that the example we used here was just a simple $500,000 policy with someone in excellent health. Once you start talking about higher coverage limits and health issues the cost difference could be very substantial by waiting just a few years and the savings could literally be in the tens of thousands.
So, if you’re someone who is thinking about the future and has marriage and/or children in the near future, you may want to run some quotes and see what kind of savings could be had by buying a policy early. You may find there’s little or no savings at all, or you could be faced with a decision that could save you thousands of dollars. Either way, it’s always a good idea to take a proactive approach and think about these issues before they happen.
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About the Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor® and spent a few years working as a financial planner. Today, he helps people make the most of their money by writing about personal finance here and elsewhere on the web. Jeremy is also Coach at Adaptu and a regular contributor for other publications such as Intuit, and American Express. Be sure to follow Jeremy on Twitter or Google+.