While making the rounds of the carnivals I came across an article called Kids Don’t Need Life Insurance posted by Mom over at Wide Open Wallet.
I knew before I clicked on the link that I was going to disagree with the article, but that’s to be expected. After all I was an insurance agent for many years. I don’t think that makes me biased towards insurance; I think it makes me an informed consumer. I was never one to sell a policy just to make a commission, and I only sold (and bought) what I felt were the best policies we offered.
I’d seen other posts on this topic, and I always leave a comment with the opposing point of view. Before I’d even clicked on Mom’s link I’d decided to finally write my own article about it, so when Mom e-mailed me and asked me to either write a guest post or write my own article this post was already halfway written. A fait accompli’.
Mom’s article specifically mentions the Gerber Life policy. Yes, we all get inundated with brochures from them almost from the moment that our children are nothing more than a twinkle in our lovestruck eyes.
The Gerber Life policy isn’t the policy I’d buy. I’m going to address two of the reasons Mom wasn’t fond of it, but that aren’t specific to the Gerber policy…
So, yes, I respectfully disagree that kids don’t need life insurance. Sure, most kids don’t neeeeeed it, and we hope and pray that they never will. A lot.
Still, I purchased a policy for my son at birth. Why? Husband has diabetes, and I had bad allergies (that my doctor now says is mild asthma). These two illnesses are hereditary. Those with a family history of diabetes, asthma and other health issues face higher rates for life insurance, sometimes significantly. Depression, anemia and even seemingly mild conditions can also lead to higher life insurance rates. Heck, I wonder if gene testing will one day be a part of life insurance underwriting…
Mom wasn’t impressed with the uninsurability issue. She says,
“Another stated benefit is that between the ages of 21 and 28 the child has the option to double the amount of their policy no questions asked. Which means that if they are uninsurable because of a disease they can still get life insurance. First off, it’s highly unlikely that at age 21 they will be ill enough to be uninsurable. “
Insurability is, to me, the most important reason to buy life insurance for your children. Its not just about being able to get life insurance, its also about how much they’ll have to pay to get it. Parents can help their child avoid having to pay substandard rates for life insurance if they are unlucky enough to develop any of those or a brazilian other medical conditions.
My son started showing signs of Reactive Airway Disease, the precursor for Asthma, at two months old. He’s been hospitalized and on nebulizers and/or other lovely medications ever since. Now he’s nearly four, and it seems to be full-fledged asthma. Thank goodness it’s under control.
I’d still have bought the policy for the insurability protection even if we didn’t have the family history we have. Even if he never benefited from it. I hoped he wouldn’t.
Mom also said,
“And secondly, even if they double their coverage, it still isn’t very much life insurance.”
True with the Gerber policy. But they’re not the only game in town.
The policy I bought for my son is a whole life policy (more on that in a minute) with a base benefit of $25,000 and includes a $25,000 guaranteed insurability option that allows him to purchase an additional $25,000 coverage at eleven different ages (17, 22, 25, 28, 31, 34, 37, 40, 43, 46 & 49, AND and he can “trade” his next option to increase coverage when he marries, AND a few other perks like automatic 90 day term riders for his kids as they’re born…) without having to prove he’s still healthy. That adds up to $325,000 coverage. Yes, he’d have to pay for the additional coverage if he chooses to purchase it (and it doesn’t have to be whole life; he can choose term), but he’d pay standard rates, not the much higher rates he’d be paying otherwise.
About whole life insurance, Mom says,
One advertised benefit of baby life insurance is that it’s a whole life policy. Which means that it doesn’t expire like term life does. Most financial planners avoid whole life policies even for adults. You pay more for whole life because some of your payment is invested which builds the cash value. Financial planners argue, and I agree, that you should pay less for the life insurance and invest your money yourself.
I don’t mind whole life insurance as an adult as much as most financial planners do, and in fact I have one. Taking them out when you’re an adult can be very, very expensive indeed, but the premiums never go up. And, if the policy performs well, you may at some point be able to stop paying the premiums. But when the policy is purchased as a child the rates are very low. There’s something to be said for a diversified portfolio, too.
Also, I’ve always thought that having a small whole life policy that’s taken out when you’re a child is a good base for an adult life insurance program later in life. You can supplement the small whole life policy with term when you’re raising a family and paying a mortgage (when you need a high death benefit with the lowest possible premium). When you no longer need the large death benefit you can let the term lapse and then you have that lovely little policy your parents or grandparents got you as a child, and that can see most people through the balance of their lives. It always made sense to me…
The policy I have on myself is the same one I have on Son. The premiums are payable for only ten years and then the policy is guaranteed paid up forever (watch out for ones that don’t say “guaranteed paid up”). Of course the premiums are higher, but we save money by paying them annually. After ten years we’ll stop paying, and he will have the policy forever. At less than $300 for the year it doesn’t break the bank. Son will only have to pay more if he increases the coverage by exercising his guaranteed insurability option.
If you don’t want the whole life, or if you want to pay less, many adult term policies offer children’s Term Riders for just a few dollars a month. You can’t get the guaranteed insurability option that way, but most companies will allow the children to spin off their own policies when the rider expires (usually at age 18 or 21).
Of course most children aren’t going to develop serious illnesses, and thank heavens for that. But I knew there was a likelihood that he would develop asthma, and I feel as a parent that I made the right decision for my son.
Sure, I know we could take that $3000 and invest it for him and with the power of compounding he’d have a brazilian dollars by the time he’s ready to retire. Son may or may not choose to exercise the options, or he may cash it in and take a trip to Bora Bora.
What you really buy with any kind of insurance is peace of mind. Buying life insurance on my son gives me peace of mind that he’ll have options. That, for me, is well worth the premiums.
The preceding information is not advice, it’s just my thoughts and opinions. I’m just a girl on the web, not currently licensed in insurance or anything else in any state. You should absolutely seek the counsel of an insurance agent and/or a mortgage professional licensed in your state before taking any action at all. Coverages and programs discussed may or may not be available in your state.