Life insurance looks set to make a comeback in the UK, after a period of neglect by consumers who were simply occupied with affording a home. The stabilising of the UK house market has made many consumers take a broader view to their personal finances.
LifeSearch (a life insurance broker), in the September issue of Money Observer, highlighted a few common mistakes people make when buying life insurance:
* Believing life insurance is relevant to everyone
Life insurance is only relevant to people who have financial dependents. If you have no financial dependents, it might be more appropriate to consider income protection or critical illness insurance.
* Paying too much for life insurance
According to Money Observer, research for Sainsbury’s Bank Life Insurance revealed that many people take life insurance policies from their mortgage providers and as a result could be paying too much.
* Opting to buy joint life insurance policies instead of single life insurance policies
The advice to married couples is to avoid taking out joint life insurance policies which pay out when the first spouse dies over the term of the policy, but not on the second. Single policies could provide additional cover by paying just an extra £3-4 a month.
* Missing out on a trust
The Tax Man can claim up to 40% of your life insurance payout as inheritance tax. According to Money Observer, those with assets totalling £275,000 or more (including a house) are especially prone to tax inspection. Writing your policy in trust is a way to avoid this and as a trust does not have to go through probate, beneficiaries of the policy will receive the payment without delay.
* Only insuring the main earner
Whilst it is important to cover the main breadwinner, by neglecting to additionally insure the housewife or househusband may result in extra child care costs. Family income benefit (FIB) may be an appropriate policy to put in place.
* Opting for a lump sum over income
If your dependents are likely to require an income, then buying a policy that pays out a lump sum is a mistake. Many people invest lump sums for an income, but when they invest it, they have to pay tax. Family income benefit provides a larger payout – tax free, though the majority of banks and building societies do not offer FIB, so ask an Independent Financial Advisor for recommendations.
* Not proving full medical records or detailing comprehensive medical history
Failure to disclose a complete picture of your health, no matter how trivial, could invalidate a claim later on.
There’s no excuse for not conducting your own homework, as there is an abundance of information available online. Sites such as moneynet, provide not only price comparison research on difference life insurance products, they also offer downloadable consumer product guides. Lowermybills.com proffers a similar service stateside.
Life insurance products and research
Rachel writes for the personal finance blog Cashzilla.
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