Introduction to Life Assurance

What Is Life Assurance

Introduction to Life Assurance

What Is Life Assurance

What Is Life Assurance

The main purpose of Life Assurance is to provide money for those people who may depend on you financially, in the event that something should happen to you. These people could include family members or business partners.

It can provide the reassurance of financial protection for you, your family and your business associates.

A Life Assurance policy pays out a sum of money when the person who is covered by the plan dies. The money is intended to pay off any outstanding debts and support your dependants financially by providing them with a further lump sum or a regular income if you die.

Even if there are no dependants who may be financially affected by your death, some Life Assurance policies could go towards covering funeral costs.

The type of Life Assurance and the amount of cover will depend on an individual’s particular circumstances and requirements. Factors to consider will include age, dependants, level of income and financial liabilities.

Premiums are normally paid to the insurance company either monthly or annually for a fixed period of time or in some cases, until death.

Types Of Life Assurance

While the overall concept of Life Assurance is fairly easy to understand, there are some complexities.

Most importantly, there are different types of Life Assurance products, covering Term Assurance, Whole of Life, Endowment policies and others.

However, because of the many options and flexibility, Life Assurance can be a powerful instrument in your financial planning toolkit.

Please be aware that in some cases this type of assurance is based on an assessment of the health of the applicant.

These Plans Typically Have No Cash In Value At Anytime And Cover Will Cease At The End Of The Term. If Premiums Cease, Then Cover Will Lapse.

Convertible Term Assurance

Like Renewable Term Assurance, this type of term assurance contains an option at the end of the term. This time it is to convert it into a whole of life policy without the need for a medical. The option must be exercised before the plan ends. The level of protection cannot be increased upon conversion and, although your health is not taken into consideration at the time of conversion, the terms offered will be based on your age.

– Option at specified dates to convert your protection-only policy into an investment type insurance policy based on your health at the time you took out the original term insurance.
– The agreement requires that premiums are paid on time and that the insurer makes no changes except if a premium change is made for an entire class of policyholder

Please be aware that in some cases this type of assurance is based on an assessment of the health of the applicant.

The Plan Will Have No Cash In Value At Any Time And Will Cease At The End Of The Term. If Premiums Are Not Maintained, Then Cover Will Lapse.

Decreasing Term Assurance

The least expensive of the Term Assurances, Decreasing Term Assurance does what it says on the label. The level of benefit decreases as the term of the policy runs; the premiums do not however reduce. The premiums are fixed throughout the policy term, and the premium level is lower than that of Level Term Assurance as a result of the decreasing benefit. This type of life assurance is commonly used to protect Capital & Repayment mortgage debt. Typically the policy reduces the protection assuming a Mortgage Interest Rate of 10%. Many are paying mortgage interest at around 5% and, providing interest rates do not go over 10%, the benefit should reduce slower than the mortgage debt, ensuring repayment of the mortgage debt in full. However, there is no guarantee that the level of cover will match the outstanding debt upon a claim.

– Provides a lump sum on death or terminal illness which can be used to cover outstanding repayments on a mortgage or loan
– The level of cover reduces each year – in line with the sum you owe
– If you die within the term of the policy, it will pay out a lump sum, to help clear whatever is outstanding on your debt at that point, however, there is no guarantee that the lump sum paid will enable you to clear your outstanding debt in full

Please be aware that in some cases this type of assurance is based on an assessment of the health of the applicant.

The Plan Will Have No Cash In Value At Any Time And Will Cease At The End Of The Term. If Premiums Are Not Maintained, Then Cover Will Lapse.

Family Income Benefit

An often-overlooked type of cover, Family Income Benefit protects a level of income for a fixed term. In the event of death the amount of income chosen at the outset will be paid for the remainder of the term of the plan. Often the term is set to protect you until your youngest child is 18 or 21. This protection is not as expensive as you may think.

Depending on your circumstances, indexation might be an option for this type of plan to protect the purchasing power, although the benefit can be level. If indexation is elected at the outset, the premiums and benefit would rise annually, normally by Retail Price Index.

Family Income Benefit is one of the least expensive forms of life insurance and differs from most other types in that it is designed to pay the benefit, in the event of death, as an income rather than a lump sum, although there may be the option of taking a lump sum depending on the policy.

Regular Tax Free Income Payments

In the event of a claim, income can be paid monthly, quarterly or annually and under current rules the income is tax-free. This makes it ideal for Family Protection where a family are looking to insure the main breadwinner over a specific term, for example to his or her retirement age.

Extra Cover Options

Family Income Benefit can also include Critical Illness Insurance which is designed to pay the selected income if the policyholder is diagnosed with a critical illness within the chosen term. Critical illness conditions vary from insurer to insurer but in general include such conditions as some forms of cancer, some forms of heart attack, and stroke etc. In addition to these “core conditions” applicants can also select comprehensive cover which usually includes 25 to 30 additional conditions.

Family Income Benefit therefore should be considered when looking to effect insurance for Family Protection. Family Income Benefit is a low cost, tax efficient solution to Family Protection.

Please be aware that in some cases this type of assurance is based on an assessment of the health of the applicant.

The Plan Will Have No Cash In Value At Any Time And Will Cease At The End Of The Term. If Premiums Are Not Maintained, Then Cover Will Lapse.

Critical Illness Plans May Not Cover All The Definitions Of A Critical Illness. The Definitions Vary Between Product Providers And Will Be Described In The Key Features And Policy Document If You Go Ahead With A Plan.

Increasing Term Assurance

This type of cover protects you for a given term for an increasing level of benefit. The amount of life cover chosen at the outset rises annually by a predetermined factor, normally Retail Price Index (RPI). This is known as “indexation”. The premium will also increase. By selecting indexation you are protecting the purchasing power of your selected benefit. This may be suitable for family protection although this would depend on individual circumstances and you should seek further advice

– works much like the level term insurance, except that the level of cover increases – and usually the premiums too.
– worth considering if you are insuring for a long term, because increasing prices eat away at the value of a fixed level of cover.

Please be aware that in some cases this type of assurance is based on an assessment of the health of the applicant.

The Plan Will Have No Cash In Value At Any Time And Will Cease At The End Of The Term. If Premiums Are Not Maintained, Then Cover Will Lapse.

Investment Linked Insurance

With term assurance policies, lower premiums make them an affordable way of helping to protect your family in the event of your death, within the policy term, but there is no guarantee of a payout. Some life insurance policies however, can be effectively used as an investment. Whole life or endowment policies will provide the beneficiaries with a payout after a fixed period or a death. These payments can be a fixed amount, or in some cases linked to an insurance company’s investment performance in the form of with profits policies or unit linked policies. With profits policies may generate rewards from the valuation of the assets and liabilities of the insurer’s life fund, but premiums will be much higher. Unit linked policies link the value of the policy to units in a unitised fund. The units are linked to the underlying value of the fund. The value of the policy can therefore fluctuate depending on the value of the units. The pricing structure and type of fund depends on your insurance company. Many insurance companies now have unitised with-profits funds.

– Flexibility to choose your own level of protection and investment.
– Ability to vary the amount of your premium payments or coverage based on your own personal financial situation.
– Flexibility to choose the type of funds based on your risk aptitude.

Please be aware that in some cases this type of assurance is based on an assessment of the health of the applicant.

The Value Of Investments And The Income From Them May Go Down. You May Not Get Back The Original Amount Invested.

Level Term Assurance

This type of cover protects you for a given term for a fixed benefit. The amount of life cover chosen at the outset will be paid whether a claim on death is made in the first year of the term or the last year. Quite often a payment would be made on the diagnosis of a terminal illness before the last 18 months of the plan, where you had 12 months or less to live. This type of protection may be suitable for family protection and Interest Only Mortgage debt, where the level of debt on the mortgage does not decrease as the years progress, however, this would depend on individual circumstances and you should seek further advice.

– Provides a lump sum on death or terminal illness to help provide a financial buffer for your family or to pay off debts
-The level of cover remains the same throughout the term of the policy
– The policy pays out if you die during the term of the policy or if, before the last 18 months of the term, you are diagnosed with a terminal illness. (A terminal illness means you are not expected to live for more than 12 months)
– Life insurance policies will only pay out once within the agreed time, so if the policy pays out because of a terminal illness claim, the policy and cover will end
– Paying out on diagnosis of terminal illness may be proportionate to the level of cover under a death claim

Please be aware that in some cases this type of assurance is based on an assessment of the health of the applicant.

The Plan Will Have No Cash In Value At Any Time And Will Cease At The End Of The Term. If Premiums Are Not Maintained, Then Cover Will Lapse.

Whole of Life Policies

A whole of life policy is another policy which does exactly as it says. It covers you for the whole of your life. When the inevitable happens, providing the policy is still in force, it will pay out a death benefit. Although they can provide a surrender value, they should not be used for investment purposes due to the deductions made for the death benefit. As payment of the benefit is inevitable Whole of Life policies tend to be more expensive than Term Assurance policies for the same level of cover (it depends on what age you are when you start the plan). Each premium is made up of a mortality element and a savings element. Upon death, a fixed sum is paid to the beneficiary along with the balance of the savings element. The performance of the underlying investment fund for Whole of Life Plans is important, as the cost of future premiums depends on fund performance. These policies come in various forms:

– Non-profit whole life policies – A level premium payable throughout life. It pays a fixed cash sum at the time of death.
– With profit whole life policies – Same as non-profit policies but the amount paid on death is the sum assured plus whatever profits have been allocated.
– Low cost whole life policies – These have a guaranteed level of cover that the amount payable on death is the greater of the basic sum plus bonuses or the guaranteed death sum assured.

If you are worried about investment risk and increasing premiums, there are Whole of Life policies available which do not rely on fund performance, however, these do not acquire a surrender value.

Please be aware that in some cases this type of assurance is based on an assessment of the health of the applicant.

The Value Of Investments And The Income From Them May Go Down. You May Not Get Back The Original Amount Invested.

The Plan May Have No Cash In Value At Any Time.

Renewable Term Assurance

This type of Term Assurance gives you the option, at the end of the original term, to extend the policy for a further term, without the need for Medical Underwriting. The new premium will be based upon your age at the time you take up the option. This type of cover is initially relatively inexpensive, but the premium will be higher than for ordinary term assurance and could rise substantially at the time of renewal.

– Allows you to extend the insurance term when it comes to an end
-The premium you then pay is based on your health at the time you took out the original policy, even if your health has subsequently deteriorated
– A useful variation for dealing with the unexpected, such as a child who stays in full-time education for longer than you had anticipated.

This could also be a good option if you cannot, at present, afford the level of cover you need for the period you require. You could take out the cover you need but for a shorter period and, at the end of the period, you could take up your option for a further period. Premiums would then be higher because you would be older, but there would be no additional charge even if you had developed health problems.

Please be aware that in some cases this type of assurance is based on an assessment of the health of the applicant.

The Plan Will Have No Cash In Value At Any Time And Will Cease At The End Of The Term. If Premiums Are Not Maintained, Then Cover Will Lapse.

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