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Life Insurance 101

It's no secret that your family is an important part of your life. You've provided food, shelter and other necessities for your loved ones to ensure their happiness and wellbeing. You've taken measures to protect their home from unplanned tragedies - but what about their future? How can you guarantee your family will be taken care of when you're no longer there to provide for them?

The answer is life insurance - and it's one of the most important financial decisions you can make during your lifetime.

Life insurance is simply a contract between you, the policy holder, and your insurance company. During the time your policy is in force, you will make payments to your insurance company, commonly referred to as insurance premiums. In exchange for your premium payments, this contract will provide money and benefits to your beneficiary, the person you designate to receive the insurance payment in the event you perish within the duration of the contract.

Whether you're married or single, retired or beginning your career, planning on children or already rearing them, the perfect time to purchase life insurance is right now. Life Insurance policies can be tailored to fit your specific needs. For instance, individuals may choose to purchase a life insurance plan that covers their mortgages and final expenses in the event of their deaths.

Just like all other types of insurance, the cost for life insurance is based on the concept of risk. Insurance companies will charge a lower premium to those who are less risky to insure. For example, an individual who is 25 years old will pay less than someone who is 65 years of age because they are less likely to die within the next year.

With this in mind, life insurance typically falls into two basic categories: term and permanent. There are significant differences between the two, making it important to know the differences between them.

Term life insurance provides coverage for a specified time, ranging from one to thirty years. Term life insurance allows its policy holders to choose their own terms of coverage, but doesn't accumulate cash value.

Permanent life insurance provides life-long coverage and typically cannot expire unless the policy holder fails to pay the insurance premium. This type of policy builds up a cash value which can be borrowed or withdrawn by the policy holder, for example, to supplement retirement income.

Take the time to educate yourself on the different types, benefits and costs for each kind of life insurance. Then assess your needs. This will ultimately make the decision process easier on you. No two life insurance plans are the same and yours should be customized to suit your specific needs.

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