Monday, April 27, 2009

Bear market ups need for life insurance

copy and post by Mei Ling Lin

With the unprecedented generational bear market that has wreaked havoc on investors' portfolios, now is a good time to review your life insurance and determine if you have enough coverage.
Remember that you depend on the combination of your investment assets plus your life insurance to make sure your dependents are financially secure should you die prematurely.
How much life insurance do you need? Ask 10 professionals and you'll likely get 10 different answers. If you have people who are dependent on your income for their support, use the following three-step process as a "quick check" of your life insurance needs:

Step 1: If you are the sole income provider, multiply your annual income by 0.80. This results in reducing your income by 20 percent. The reason you do this is because there is one less spender in the household (you!). Note that if both you and your spouse work combine both incomes and multiply by 0.80.
Step 2: Divide your answer in Step 1 by the rate of return you would reasonably expect to earn on the life insurance proceeds once they are invested. Your answer here indicates how much money you will need in order to continue the necessary income stream to your surviving family.

Step 3: Subtract any savings or investments you already have from your answer in Step 2. This is the `ballpark' amount of life insurance you should own. Let's look at an example. Edward and Jean Anderson have two children. Edward earns $100,000 a year and Jean stays home to raise the children. The parents assume that they could earn 6 percent on investments; they have $45,000 in personal investments and $75,000 in their retirement plans.
First, multiply Edward's income times the "one less spender factor" to calculate the adjusted income need ($100,000 x 0.08 = $80,000).
Second, now divide the adjusted income need by your expected rate of return on investments ($80,000 x 0.6 = $1,333,333). This amount of money invested at 6 percent will provide the needed $80,000 per year for Jean and the children.

Finally, subtract the total of all current investments from the total capital needed ($1,333,333 - $120,000 = $1,213,333). If Jean was employed and planned to continue working after Edward's death, you would also subtract her income from your answer in step one.
You would also need to repeat this exercise for Jean to determine how much life insurance is needed on her life. For a non-working spouse, estimate the costs to replace that spouse's services such as nanny and housekeeper and multiply those costs times the number of years the services will be needed.

The answer you get by using this three-step process should only be used as a rule of thumb. Once you have the number, you should personalize the solution to your particular situation.
For example, you may want to increase the amount of insurance to help cover the costs of funding college expenses for your children. If your goal is to provide a lifetime income for your dependents, additional insurance will be needed to offset the ravages of inflation.


  1. Interesting and helpful calculation, thanks for sharing. The by and large end effect of this is that you will get informed on the lowest rate, best service that suits your financial plan.

  2. Thanks for sharing ! Interesting post ! I only want to say that everybody must insure yourself for their and their family safety.

  3. This type of insurance policy is one type of permanent life insurance. With a permanent policy, the insurance is designed to last as long as you pay the premiums. Whole life insurance guarantees this lifetime protection. Universal life does not have these guarantees but there is now term life insurance where you can add a feature that guarantees that the insurance will last the rest of your life.