Many New Yorkers spend substantial sums of money each year on life insurance premiums with very little idea of what they are getting for their money. Often buyers don’t realize that there are major differences in the types of life insurance they can buy and the sources for such coverage.
The information in this resource center aims to familiarize you with basic life insurance terms, describe the major life insurance policies and annuities that are available, and provide important shopping tips to help you make the right choice when purchasing life insurance or annuities.
The Purpose Of Life Insurance
Your need for life insurance will vary with your age and responsibilities. The amount of insurance you buy should depend on the standard of living you wish to assure your dependents. You should consider the amount of assets and sources of income available to your dependents when you pass away. Social security benefits, available cash and other sources of income and investments may not provide the standard of living you have in mind. Life insurance helps bridge the gap between the financial needs of your dependents and the amount available from other sources, is the amount to be provided by life insurance. Your agent or other financial advisor can help you with these calculations. The Internet, as well as many financial magazines, books and articles are available to help you as well.
Before You Buy Insurance
The purchase of life insurance is an important decision for both you and your family. There are many reasons why life insurance is purchased, but these reasons should be based upon your needs or wants. Your marital status, number of dependents, family size, income, and wealth all play a role in determining the amount of life insurance that is right for you. The first step is to determine your current need for life insurance and how much you can afford to spend. It is a good idea to consider future needs too, because unlike most purchases, you can't always buy life insurance when you need it; you have to be in reasonably good health to purchase most types of life insurance products.
Remember if one kind of life insurance does not seem to fit your needs, ask about other plans. Be sure to read your new policy carefully, and ask the agent or company for an explanation of anything you do not understand. Take full advantage of the free look provisions that are provided on the policy cover page. New York requires a minimum free look period of 10 days and a maximum of 30 days. A 30-day free look period is required for any policy offered through the mail. "Free look" provisions allow you to cancel a policy without penalty within a set time period. Whatever you decide, it is important to review your life insurance program every few years to keep up with your changing financial and family circumstances and responsibilities.
Insurance Company Ratings and Stability
When selecting an insurance policy, you are also selecting an insurance company and you may wish to know how stable that company is financially. Many firms rate the financial soundness of insurance companies. Some provide the ratings free while others charge a fee, ranging from a small fee for an online rating to a larger amount for quarterly reports. Each firm has a different rating scale and firms may differ in the conclusions they reach about a specific insurance company. Therefore, you may wish to check with more than one firm before selecting an insurance company.
Listed below are some of the firms that rate insurance companies along with their phone numbers and web addresses:
Moody’s Investors Service
Standard & Poor’s