Life insurance is cheapest and most available when you’re least likely to think about it. In the bloom of young adulthood, death is a far-off abstraction and you don’t think of yourself as someone who needs life insurance.
But as a 20-something, you have key advantages in your pocket when shopping for life insurance coverage, and, depending on life circumstances, you may already have some compelling reasons to buy.
If your spouse would suffer financially after your death, then life insurance is a smart purchase. With marriage often comes financial interdependence. Perhaps you pool both of your incomes to pay the mortgage, credit card bills or car loans. What would happen if your income disappeared? By naming a spouse as beneficiary on a life insurance policy, you ensure that your partner will have the financial means to carry on.
Having a baby
About half of women under age 30 have at least one child, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data. Generally most parents should have life insurance to provide for their children in case of the unthinkable.
Choose a beneficiary whom you trust to use the money for the child, or work with an attorney to set up a trust for the life insurance benefits and name the trust as beneficiary. The trust document spells out how the money should be used for the child, and the trustee, whom you designate, manages the money.
Debts and final expenses
Although government student loans are forgiven upon the borrower’s death, private student loans generally are not. Some 1.4 million American students — 6% of undergraduates — borrowed private loans in the 2011-2012 school year, according to the most recent data compiled by The Institute for College Access and Success.
If you die and leave behind private student loan debt, the co-signers of the loans will have to pick up the burden. Combined with grief, that’s a painfully heavy load to shoulder.
The beneficiaries you name on a life insurance policy can use the proceeds to pay off your debts as well as pay any final expenses. Funerals aren’t cheap. The national median cost of a funeral with a casket was $7,045 in 2012, according to the most recent figures from the National Funeral Directors Association.
Cheap life insurance rates
Life insurance rates increase as you age because your life expectancy is shorter with each passing birthday.
A 29-year-old California man who doesn’t smoke could get term life insurance quotes for as little as $240 a year for a $500,000, 20-year policy, according to NerdWallet research. But the lowest quote a 40-year-old, nonsmoking California man could get for the same amount of coverage is $348.
Easy to qualify for coverage
Another reason to buy before you hit 30 is to lock in coverage while you’re healthy. Rates climb as you develop health conditions. You might think you’ll never get common ailments like high blood pressure, but the odds are against you. While just 11% of men and 7% of women ages 20 to 34 have high blood pressure, 37% of men and 35% of women ages 45 to 54 have the condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among 55- to 64-year-olds, 54% of men and 53% of women have high blood pressure.
Regardless of your age, consider this question in deciding whether you need life insurance: Would someone suffer financially if I died? If the answer is yes, then it’s time to get life insurance quotes. NerdWallet’s life insurance cost estimator can help.
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