What to Know About Cremation Costs in 2019

Cremation has been growing as an alternative to a traditional funeral for some time.  In fact, about half of all final dispositions of remains are now being cremated according to cremation industry sources.

Cremation has become more popular because it is a simple, flexible and economical process that also uses less of the earth’s natural resources than traditional burials.

What is the Average Cost of Cremation?

The latest national data available is from 2017. According to data from the Cremation Research Council , the average cost for creation was about $1,100 for a direct cremation.  That amount was independent of costs for memorial services, urns and other related optional expenses.  Total cremation costs can rise quite a bit if those factors are figured in.

This compares favorably to the cost of a traditional funeral that averages about $11,000 for a burial and service.

To get an accurate accounting of the costs associated for each, the FTC’s Funeral Rule requires providers to provide pricing up front.  Consumers must also be presented with a full range of options, not just the most expensive ones when shopping for services.

What Does a Cremation with Services Cost?

Exact costs will vary depending on the region of the country and the specific services that accompany the cremation, but costs may typically run about $3,000 with a funeral service, casket and other related incidentals.

Factors That Affect End-of-Life Costs

There are several factors that can affect end-of-life costs for both cremation and burials:

Region.  Costs do vary depending on the part of the country where you live, and in some cases, from city to city.

Provider.  Each service provider will charge different rates.  By law, you must be provided with a price list before making a decision on which provider to choose, so that you can accurately compare costs.

Transportation.  Moving remains from one location to another means you will incur transportation costs.  The type of travel that you choose and the distance traveled could have a major impact on the cost.

Added Services.  Some providers offer package deals at a discount.  Others allow you to add a la carte services that can range from embalming, the type of coffin or urn you choose, holding a service, for example.

Timeliness.  If you have flexibility as to when you can have remains disposed of either through cremation or a traditional burial, you might be able to get reduced pricing instead of entering into a situation where you are locked in or must act in a hurry.

Financing.  If you can’t pay for everything up front, you may be able to finance the cremation or burial.  Just understand that there will be increased costs due to finance charges and/or interest.

Veterans services.  If the deceased was a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, you may be able to have their remains committed to a national cemetery, along with several services at little or no cost.  Some benefits might also be partially or fully covered under the VA.

Guarantees.  Services that are guaranteed with money-back promises tend to be more costly than those that aren’t, but the peace of mind that comes with the guarantee can be well worth it in a time of need.

Arranging a Cremation

There are several steps that are part of the cremation process.

After a person passes away, their body is stored in a climate-controlled environment until a death certificate is processed.  This takes about 48 to 72 hours in most states.

A burial transit permit is issued in the county where the death took place so that the body can be transported to either the funeral home for services or directly to the crematory.

A medical examiner must approve the cremation which can take another two to three days depending on the laws of the state where the cremation is to take place.  The next of kin are required to give written permission for the cremation unless the deceased gave cremation authorization prior to passing away.

Although a funeral home is involved most of the time, cremation is generally contracted out to a third-party provider at an offsite location.

Some people choose to have a body embalmed if there is going to be a funeral service before the body is cremated.

If there is no viewing, a body is cremated in whatever clothing they were wearing when they passed away.  This may be a hospital gown, pajamas or just a sheet.  If there is a traditional service, then most of the time, the body is cremated in whatever clothes were worn at the service.

A casket is not required for cremation, but most states require that there is some kind of container that is either made of wood or cardboard that is cremated with the body.

After the body is transported to the crematory, jewelry is removed.  If the person had a pacemaker or other medical device, it is removed as well because this can be an explosion hazard.  The container is placed in a cremation chamber and the temperature is raised to between 1,400 and 1,800 degrees resulting in all organic matter being consumed by heat or by evaporation.

In case you were wondering, it is not only illegal to cremate more than one person at a time, it is usually physically impossible.  This is because most cremation chambers are only large enough to accommodate a single body at a time.

The remaining material is known as cremains which are carefully removed from the chamber.  A magnet is also used to collect any metal that was in the body such as metal joints, or bridgework.  Gold or silver teeth are vaporized during the cremation.

After the cremains are further pulverized, they are placed in a temporary container or in an urn provided by the family.

Overall, the entire process will take between 10 and 15 days in most cases.

After this process is done, the remains are then memorialized.  This can be done by inurnment where an urn is placed in a columbarium, it is buried, or the ashes are scattered at some point in the future.

How to Choose a Cremation Service

You have several possible cremation service providers to choose from.  Before you make a final decision on the provider, make sure you understand what each offers in terms of pricing or packages.  Ask for a price list that will give clear pricing.

Also find out if the provider has a remembrance center where you can shop for urns, caskets, or other keepsakes.  If you’re working with a stand-alone crematory instead of a funeral home, your options may be limited.

Once you’ve decided which cremation provider to work with, you still need to make some other decisions.  These can be spelled out in advance by the person themselves or made at the time of the service by family members.

If cost is your primary consideration, then direct cremation is the easiest and least expensive option.  There is only transporting the body to a crematory, having the body processed, and returning the ashes to the family.

Even if you choose a simple cremation with no memorial or visitation, ask if you can be present when the cremation takes place. Some providers offer a waiting room for families.

Others may choose to include a memorial service or a funeral service either before or after the cremation.  You can work with a funeral home to help you decide what’s right for your situation.

Consider Pre-Planning a Cremation

Pre-planning can make the actual services more affordable by locking in current pricing instead of paying for services at the prevailing costs at some point in the future.

You can work with a provider that accepts payments in advance for future services, also guaranteeing that adequate funds will be available when they are needed and there will be one less financial burden to deal with at the time of death.

The Neptune Society is one of the most well-known and respected cremation providers that offer a wide range of pre-planning options.  They may be a good place to start in your search for more information.

Pre-planning terms will differ, depending on your state’s legislation on funeral plans, and personal circumstances for making payment.

It’s also important to know that part of pre-arranging a cremation is to pre-authorize the cremation.  For a cremation to proceed, the legal next-of-kin or the person involved in their own services must sign a Cremation Authorization Form.

You can pre-plan by doing finding an affordable cremation services provider near you and putting aside the required funds for an ‘at-need’ direct cremation in a Payable on Death (POD) account at your bank.  Many funeral service providers are happy to work with you to prepare the necessary paperwork for a cremation and keep it on file for a later time.

Payment Options and Cremation Insurance

Insurance providers offer cremation insurance which is a form of final expense life insurance.  Proceeds from the policy are used to pay for the cost of a cremation and other related final expenses.

These are a simplified issue whole life policy with the option of buying small amounts of protection.  They are considered a viable option for people who only need a little bit of coverage to cover the cost of cremation.  Because it is a whole life policy, details are locked in up front.  If you pay your policy premiums on time, this means:

  • Premiums can never increase
  • The policy can’t expire at any age
  • Coverage can’t decrease
  • No medical exam is needed to qualify
  • There is a fast payout of benefits upon passing of the insured

As far as paying for cremation goes, you can realize some cost savings depending on what you decide.   You can pay for cremation in full and maximize cremation cost savings.

You can also pay for cremation over time with installment payments.

Using life insurance proceeds may be an option or simply paying for the services out of the deceased person’s estate.  In some cases, it’s possible to spread cremation costs out among several family members so that no one person must shoulder the entire financial burden.

Fundraising events if the person was well known in the community might be possible or seeking community or charitable help to offset costs could be options as well.

Social Security offers a lump-sum death payment of $255, but only if you qualify for this payment.  There are also Indigent Burial Assistance Programs offered by many counties across the United States, mostly in place to help needy and destitute families.

Costs and Fees Commonly Associated with Cremation

The Federal Trade Commission offers excellent resources on what to expect regarding the costs of funerals and cremations.  Go here for a detailed explanation of the costs and fees associated with these services.

In addition, by law, all funeral homes and cremation businesses must quote their prices by providing consumers with a copy of their General Price List if you visit them in person.

You should either seek a referral from a trusted resource or call several funeral homes or crematories to get pricing, see what services are provided and how they can assist you with all aspects of a cremation.

Finding Affordable Cremation Services and Providers

Cremation costs are much less expensive than a traditional funeral, but you might still end up paying as much as $3,000 depending on which cremation services you choose.

You can try to save money by doing some comparison shopping.  Also consider looking into a direct cremation.  This is a no-frills option with no embalming, formal viewing or funeral service that can save money.  It is usually offered by funeral homes, but you may be able to save even more if you work directly through a cremation provider.

You may be able to get help and referrals through your nearby memorial society or local funeral consumer alliance program. These are volunteer groups that offer a wide range of information and prices on local funeral and cremation providers.

There are also a number of free websites — like funeraldecisions.com and efuneral.com — that you or your family can use to do the work for you. With these sites, you just answer a few questions, and your nearby funeral homes will provide estimates based on your request.

The cost of an urn can also drive up the cost, adding as much as $300 or more to the price you will have to pay.  However, you are not required to get an urn.  Instead, most funeral homes will place ashes in a plastic bag and then insert it into a thick plastic box.  This is all that is required to spread ashes.  You can also find affordable urns online for as little as $25 at places such as Walmart.com.

If you’re a veteran, the VA provides a burial benefit that includes a free burial at a national cemetery and a free grave marker. The VA doesn’t cover funeral provider or cremation costs, but you can still save money going this route if you qualify.

Social Security may also shoulder some of the financial burden as well.  It pays a survivor a one-time death benefit of $255.

You may be able to avoid all cremation costs if you decide to donate the body to medical science or research.  Medical schools will cremate your remains for free, and either bury or scatter your ashes in a local cemetery or return them to your family, although it may take a while for them to do so.  You can call the National Family Service Desk, which operates a free referral service at 800-727-0700.

What is the Least Expensive Cremation Service?

Direct cremation is the least expensive form of cremation.  There is no embalming, formal viewing or a funeral.  Only the essentials are part of the process: picking up the body, completing required paperwork, the cremation itself, and providing ashes to the family.

Because the body is cremated almost immediately after death, a family can engage the services of a crematory directly instead of working through a funeral home.  This alone can save a substantial sum of money.  A crematory will often charge a fraction of the price that a funeral home would charge for the same services.

If you choose to work through a funeral home, some may charge a lower Basic Services Fee (funeral homes’ non-declinable flat fee) for direct cremation. If you are interested in saving money, it’s worth calling a number of different funeral homes to find one with a lower direct cremation Basic Services Fee.

The body is also cremated in a simple container, instead of a lavish casket.  The funeral home or crematory you’re working with must make available an unfinished wood box or alternative container for the cremation.  If you provide an urn to the crematory, they must return the cremated remains to you in the urn you provided.  If you don’t provide an urn, they must return the cremated remains to you in a container, which may be a cardboard box

Family members may choose to hold a service after the fact which also eliminates the need for additional expensive funeral costs as well.

What Happens if you Can’t Afford Cremation?

If a relative dies and you can’t afford to pay the costs for creation, there are some options:

  • Check to see if the deceased had a life insurance policy and if some or all of the funeral costs are covered.
  • Consider getting a loan. You may be able to finance the cremation and services from a bank or credit union.
  • Ask other family members to help you to pay for it. Be specific and candid and let relatives know exactly how much the costs will be.
  • If you can’t come up with the payment any other way, talk to the coroner’s office. You can sign a release form and the state or the county will pitch in to pay for a burial or cremation.  You may be able to recover the ashes for a fee, but if this is not possible, then the county will bury the ashes in a common grave with other unclaimed ashes.

How to get a Free Cremation

If a body is donated to science to help medical education and research, then cremation can take place free of charge.  Many medical schools and research organizations will pay the bill for transportation, cremation and a death certificate.  Some will also return remains in about two to four weeks or scatter the ashes on their own, but others may hold the cadaver and not return remains for as long as two years.  It depends on the institution and their individual needs and policies.

Most medical schools only accept full body donations, with all organs still intact, so that students can dissect and study the anatomy.  Medical schools also have the right to refuse to take a body at any time after a person dies and for any reason.

There are several organizations throughout the country that will work with families to donate a loved one’s body upon death for medical research purposes.   If possible, it’s best to try and make arrangements in advance.

Here are some organizations you can look into that will accept donated bodies:

To ensure you’re dealing with a reputable organization, look for accreditation by the American Association of Tissue Banks.

You might be curious if you get the same benefits if you are a registered organ donor.  Generally, this is not the case.  Free cremation is offered to those who register to donate the entire body to science, not simply agree to allow the harvesting of life-saving organs at time of death.

Most people are eligible for body donation, but there are some exceptions. If the person has or had a communicable disease such as hepatitis, HIV/AIDS and/or tuberculosis, severe obesity or edema (fluid swelling) or the body has experienced decomposition or trauma, that body will not be eligible.

Are Cremation Prices Likely to Rise in 2019?

In most major cities, a direct cremation can be conducted for between $595 to $995.  Rural areas tend to be more expensive, as there is less competition for the cremation market.

More people are choosing cremation, and this means that funerals are becoming more affordable for families. With cremations on the rise, the prices for traditional funerals are coming down in many markets.

Most funeral businesses need to increase their volume of cremation business to sustain their revenue.  This has led to cremation ‘price wars’ in some cities, where funeral homes are reducing their direct cremation price to increase their volume of cases.

But at the same time, corporate funeral entities are working to acquire their own share of cremation business.  Corporate death care companies, such as Dignity Memorial and The Neptune Society, are enlisting the expertise of professional marketing services and are predominant in online advertising and direct mail.

Corporate and privately-owned funeral entities across the U.S. are acquiring successful independent cremation businesses to dominate a cremation market in a specific area.  By eliminating competition, especially those offering lower priced cremation services, eventually it is expected that cremation services in those markets will start to rise again.

Cremation Costs by State

Under the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule, a funeral home must provide you with a list of all the services offered and the costs associated with each. It helps you make educated decisions about your own end-of-life plans or about services for a loved one. It helps you see exactly how the overall costs of cremation or burial can be affected by each decision you make regarding services.

You can also reach out to the Funeral Consumers Alliance which has created an affiliates directory that provides all funeral planning and cremation information nationwide.  Some active affiliates have done a funeral home price survey listing prices for all funeral homes in their area. Some affiliates have also negotiated discounts for members at certain cooperating funeral homes.

 

 

 

Getting an indexed universal life insurance policy tailored for you can be a daunting task.

Why?

Because universal life insurance was designed to be flexible, which means there a lot of options to consider. In fact, if you took some time to shop online, you’d likely end up empty-handed.

To help you get a handle on the topic, I reached out to Scott Karstens, Partner and President, Life Division of Nelson Financial Group (NFG), who specializes in indexed universal life insurance.

Below are four golden rules to remember when considering indexed universal life insurance.

Rule #1: Shop your Broker, Not your Companies.

This is where the internet can get you in trouble. There are tons of calculators and companies to be found on search engines that will try to persuade you to make a hasty decision, typically by pitching the cheapest rate. The most important item to remember about IULs, however, is that one size does not fit all.

“The fortunate thing for consumers is they have many strong options when shopping for permanent life insurance such as an IUL. The unfortunate thing is they have many options,” says Karstens.

I wholeheartedly agree with Scott. This is why it’s more important to shop your independent agent versus trying to shop all the companies on your own. Find an independent agent who specializes in indexed universal life insurance, not just term or whole life, and let them shop for the best options that meet your specific goals.

Having a strong independent agent can have a drastic impact on the quality of your policy.

Get a Free Life Insurance Quote!

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Rule #2: Living Benefits or Bust

Living benefits are the biggest thing to come along in life insurance in many years. In simple terms, living benefits are riders to your policy that provide benefits before you pass away. These enhanced benefits allow you to accelerate all or a portion of your life insurance death benefit while you’re still living.

Below is a quick glance at the most common living benefits included with indexed universal life policies:

  • Terminal Illness: Insured policyholder is diagnosed as terminally ill and has 12-24 months to live.
  • Chronic Illness: Insured cannot complete some minimum specified activities of daily living.
  • Critical Illness: Critical illness benefit has many triggers such as heart attack, cancer, kidney failure or stroke. Normally, the greater the severity of the illness, the greater the living benefit payout. For example, Stage 3 cancer has a higher paying lump sum benefit that Stage 2 cancer.
  • Critical Injury: Client experiences severe burns, traumatic brain injury, paralysis or coma. Most companies do not offer critical injury benefits, so it’s important to ask your agent if your policy options include this benefit. (this benefit is largely lumped into Critical illness, only one or two separate it into Critical Injury.

For example here is Global Atlantic’s: certain cancers, stroke, heart attack, diagnosis of end stage renal failure, major organ transplant, paralysis, coronary artery bypass, coma, severe burn, and AIDS the only thing it is missing is ‘brain injury’.

According to Karstens, “Living benefits complete your safety net portfolio and provide an alternative to other standalone insurance solutions such as Long-Term Care, which is especially important for families living on a tighter budget.”

Why would you want a life insurance policy that doesn’t allow you to access the death benefit funds if you were to get sick or injured?

Rule #3: Level out the roller coaster.

We’re all aware of the roller coaster that is investing and maximizing our ROI. The stock market goes up and down, and while you’ll likely have more gains than losses, it’s still good to consider ways to level out the dips in the roller coaster.

“Indexed Universal Life policies are one solution to that anxiety-filled roller coaster ride by offering products with minimum crediting guarantees from 0-3%,” says Karstens. This means, regardless of the market performance, the money within your policy is contractually guaranteed. (Variance in minimum guaranteed is another reason to shop around).

What does that mean? It’s true that you might not earn as much as you would have invested in the stock market, but you are protected from what you could potentially lose. It’s diversification 101.

Karstens adds: “When the index increases by the end of a policy year, the insurance company adds interest credits to your policy up to the maximum amount of your policy.”

This means your policy is subject to a cap or crediting ceiling. Depending on the company, the caps are often in the range of 8%-18%. A cap of 18% means that, if the market returned 20%, you would only receive up to the cap of 18% — not 20%. If the market was negative, however, you would still get your policy guarantee.

So, there you have it. Make sure to review policy floors and caps, as they can make a drastic difference in long-term performance.

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Rule #4: Cost of Insurance and Underwriting

Although an IUL is a great vehicle to diversify your retirement savings, it’s not a solution for everyone.

For example, it’s much more expensive to insure a 60-year-old than a 30-year-old. The cost of insurance can quickly offset the policy’s ability to positively perform as the bulk of the policy premium is absorbed by the minimum cost of insurance (death benefit and associated fees), leaving less of the remaining premium to accumulate growth.

Underwriting is the next hurdle. If you’re facing health challenges, you may receive a sub-standard rating during the review. However, if you’re young, healthy and have substantial assets, an IUL could be a great option to diversify your portfolio.

These are the important items to consider before making a decision on an IUL. Remember to seek advice from an experienced independent resource who will provide all options — not just what’s in their company’s best interest.

 

 

A Guide to Personal Accident Insurance

Find the Cheapest Insurance Quotes in your Area

Personal accident insurance provides an extra added layer of financial security in the event you sustain a bodily injury or a killed as a result of an accident.  When combined with other forms of insurance, such as life insurance, it can provide valuable protection for a family at an unexpected time when it needs it the most.

What is Personal Accident Insurance?

Personal accident insurance, also referred to as accidental death and dismemberment insurance, provides payouts to policy holders or their families who suffer losses due to unintentional injuries.  It does not provide payouts for deaths due to natural causes or diseases.

Polices can be written many different ways or combined for comprehensive personal accident insurance coverage.  Coverages may include:

Accidental Death.  If you die from any kind of accident, your beneficiaries will be paid on your behalf.  This policy is similar to life insurance, but it covers a much narrower spectrum of circumstances and often is less expensive than life insurance.  You must die from an accident, and not from a disease, illness or natural causes.  Often, people with active lifestyles will get both forms of insurance to make sure their loved ones are doubled up when it comes to financial protection.

Disability.  If you are injured so severely that you can’t work anymore, then disability insurance will pay you a monthly income.  Many people think that workers’ compensation or other forms of employer provided insurance will cover them, only to find out that they might be covered at a substantially reduced amount and for a limited amount of time of only up to 26 weeks.  A personal accident insurance policy that provides disability payments will fill in financial shortfalls you may experience and will provide benefits for a much longer period of time.  If you work in a dangerous occupation, this might be an exceptionally valuable type of policy to have.

Accidents.  Many policies are written to pay you cash if you sustain an injury due to an accident.  Cash can be used to cover the costs of treatment and for other expenses such as rent, groceries or utilities.  Coverages will vary according to the type of accident you have.  Some will cover just about any qualifying mishap even if the injury is minor.  Other policies will only cover serious injuries.  That’s why it is important to ask the right questions and make sure you understand all the details of coverage when you shop for a policy.

Even policies that provide coverage for all of these circumstances will vary by the amount of payout you could receive.  A percentage of the face value of the policy may be paid depending on the severity of your injury as well.  If you lose a limb or an eye, for example, you may receive a 50% payout as compensation versus if you die in an accident.

What Personal Accident Insurance Does Not Cover

Personal accident insurance pays out for several clearly defined scenarios, but it also does not pay out for several clearly defined scenarios as well.  The most well-known instance of personal accident insurance not paying off if an injury or death takes place due to sickness or disease, but there are many others.

Keep in mind that every policy is a bit different and so exclusions may vary, but generally speaking, no benefits will be paid if any of the following circumstances exist:

  • If the accident takes place in a country where a state of war exists whether it is declared or not, and the accident and resulting injuries were a direct consequence of the war.
  • If you took drugs other than according to a manufacturer’s instructions or your doctor’s prescribed instructions.
  • If you take drugs for the treatment of a drug addiction.
  • If you cause an accident while driving a vehicle and your blood alcohol level is above the legal limit in the state or in the country where the accident takes place.
  • If your injuries are intentionally self-inflicted.
  • If injuries or death takes place while committing suicide or attempting to commit suicide.
  • If you sustain an injury or are killed while directly involved in an unlawful act.
  • If you deliberately or recklessly expose yourself to danger.
  • If you are injured or killed while you are flying, unless you are a fare-paying passenger on a commercial aircraft.
  • If you are injured or killed while you are practicing, training or participating in a sport as a professional or semi-professional athlete.

How Does Personal Accident Insurance Work?

Most personal accident insurance policies pay out a lump sum benefit when a policy holder dies or suffers a bodily injury as a result of an accident or unforeseen event.  Standard polices are normally written to include payouts in the event of accidental death, permanent total disablement due to an accident, the loss of a specified body part, or the loss of the use of a specified body part.  Some policies also cover permanent partial disablement, or temporary total or partial disablement as well.

The policy does not pay out if the death is caused by sickness, disease or any naturally occurring condition or process.  In other words, if you get hit by a car, you will be paid.  If you die of cancer, you will not be paid.

The amount of the benefit, the areas of coverage and exclusions all vary from policy to policy.  That’s why it is important to pay close attention to the details when you are shopping for a policy.  Do not assume that a specific type of accident is covered and for a certain amount.  You owe it to yourself and your family to ask these important questions up front.

In addition to being able to purchase personal accident insurance as an individual consumer, many times an employer will offer it as a benefit, getting more favorable rates because it is part of a group policy.  At other times, personal accident insurance may be bundled with other types of insurance, such as life insurance or with travel insurance.

Before determining whether or not to pay out a claim, an insurer will look at the sequence of events of a death or injury to make sure the provisions of the policy have been met.  Sometimes this is a straightforward process.  At other times, it is not.   There are also exclusions in a policy and if they are present, then a claim probably will not be paid.  Exclusions can include things such as if the policyholder was using drugs or alcohol, and what role they played in the accident.

Reckless exposure to danger is another exclusion and may include things such as driving with excessive speed in a car or taking on the hobby of parachuting or base jumping.  You should check with your potential insurer before taking out a policy to get a clear definition of what constitutes reckless exposure.

Another common exclusion is suicide.

Sometimes it is clear that a suicide was a cause of death.  At other times, it may be less so. In those instances, an insurer will look to a coroner for a verdict.  Coroners must be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that a person committed suicide before recording a death that way.  When it is recorded that way, the death is not accidental, and a benefit will not be paid.

Policies may pay as much as $250,000 for some kinds of accidental deaths.  When an injury is involved, the amount of benefit you can receive will vary depending on the injury and the associated costs.  Those associated costs can include things such as a trip to the emergency room, ambulance transportation, surgery, hospital stays and other related out-of-pocket expenses.

When an accident results in a permanent disability, you will be paid a percentage of the policy amount.  For example, if you lose a limb or the loss of sight in one eye, you may receive a lump sum payment of 50% of a policy value.  If you become a paraplegic, you may be entitled to 75% of the policy amount.

When your policy is in force, unless certain exclusions are in play, you are covered 24/7.  With a few exceptions, coverage is generally worldwide.

Policy costs will vary based on several factors but expect to pay about $25-$35 per month for family depending on the level of benefits, the type of benefits you choose and the carrier who writes the policy.

What is the Difference Between Personal Accident Insurance and Life Insurance?

Personal accident insurance and life insurance can work hand in hand to provide complementary coverage for you and your family in a variety of situations much greater than either one can provide on its own.

It’s true that life insurance offers broader coverage than accidental death insurance if you pass away, but you should still consider obtaining a personal accident insurance policy for a number of reasons.

Life insurance pays benefits when death occurs due to natural causes and in deaths caused by unintentional injuries, such as in a car accident.  In a 2013 CDC study, statistically speaking, accidental deaths were ranked as the fourth leading cause of deaths in the United States (just behind heart attacks, cancer and chronic respiratory disease), meaning that your family could be financially vulnerable if a sudden accidental death takes place.  While a life insurance policy will pay benefits, a personal accident insurance policy is an affordable way to provide additional financial peace of mind at a time in your life when your expenses may be the greatest and your loss would be financially devastating more than at other times.

Many people have active periods or higher risk periods in their lives and use term insurance to protect against death for a defined period of time.  Personal accident insurance is also used as an added layer of protection in these instances.

Another thing to consider is that if you’re leading an active lifestyle, you could be more susceptible to accidents if you engage in any kind of risky activities.  These activities may not even seem obvious, such as if you like to ride bicycles or perhaps surf or snow ski on a regular basis.  Many people are killed in accidents each year while participating in these activities, often through no fault of their own.

Personal accident insurance also means that even if you aren’t killed in an accident, you may also receive a financial payout for permanent injuries you may receive even if you’re engaged in some types of active or risky lifestyle choices.  Obviously, you must pass away to have your family receive life insurance benefits.

In other cases, you may have an existing medical condition that makes it challenging to buy life insurance.  While personal accident insurance will not give you the same kind of coverage as life insurance, it will still give you partial coverage is you are injured or killed in an accident.

What Does Personal Accident Insurance Cover?

Because every policy is different, there is no standard answer for this.  Depending on the policy and coverage that you choose, personal accident insurance may cover:

Accidental death.  A death must be ruled accidental and must not be attributed to natural causes.  Also, every policy has certain exclusions (i.e. suicide, death due to reckless behavior, etc.) that will not be covered.  It’s vital you understand all circumstances that the policy will pay out before buying it.

Permanent total disablement.  Benefits are paid when physical injuries lead to total disability of the policyholder.  In most cases, the entire policy sum is paid.

Permanent partial disablement.  When an accident leads to partial incapacity, payment may be up to 100% of the policy amount, or depending on the nature of the disablement, the policy may pay out a percentage.

Temporary total disablement.  If an accident injury results in total disablement for a limited amount of time, then a policy will normally pay a weekly amount, up to the policy limits, until the person is able to return to their work.

Out-of-pocket expenses. Personal accident insurance will also pay for out-of-pocket expenses for lesser injuries that will still leave you with medical costs and living expenses that must be addressed.  Some of those expenses may include:

  • Deductibles
  • Co-payments
  • Doctor visits
  • Hospital stays
  • Transportation
  • Lost wages
  • Rent or mortgage payments
  • Car payments
  • Groceries
  • Utilities
  • Child care

Once you make your claim, payment usually takes place within a matter of days so that you can rest easy in knowing your short-term financial impacts are covered.

A claim could be denied if you have pre-existing medical conditions or injuries or if you failed to disclose any conditions or an occupation that is specifically not covered by a policy. Also, if you sustain a workplace injury, you may not receive payment if your workplace provides you with compensation to cover you for your injury.

In addition to pairing up a personal accident insurance policy with life insurance, it is often used in conjunction or instead of other types of insurance as a form of income protection as well.

Depending on the level of coverage for a health insurance policy, it can be used to cover deductible amounts that don’t kick in on a health policy.  It fills in what could otherwise be considerable gaps if a person seeks treatment under a health policy with a high annual deductible.  It can also be used as a complementary source of income if a person has long-term disability insurance.  Disability insurance typically only pays a percentage of a person’s income, and personal accident insurance can help bring income to closer to 100% after an accident.

At other times, to save money on expensive car insurance, people may not have collision coverage on their vehicles.  Personal accident insurance can be used as a protective measure in this instance as well.

Why Buy Personal Accident Insurance?

There are many reasons why you should consider buying personal accident insurance:

  • Family security. If you are vital to the financial security of your family, then you must do everything you can to protect them.  This alone can be a powerful enough motivator to spur you to buy a policy.
  • Family coverage. It is easy to also take out policies on any member of your family.
  • Low cost. Depending on where you live, your age and how much coverage you want, you may be able to get a policy for as little as $20 a month.
  • Lower premium. Although payout terms are restricted, the cost of a personal accident insurance policy is much less than what you would pay in premiums for life insurance policy.
  • Worldwide coverage. Although there are a few exclusions (e.g. you aren’t covered in a country where war is taking place), you are otherwise covered throughout the world.
  • Easy claim method. Submitting a personal injury accident claim is generally a streamlined and easy process.
  • No demand for medical tests and documentation. Depending on your policy, it can be a relatively easy process to activate the policy without burdensome tests and documentation.  For standalone coverage, this can be an attractive benefit if you have been turned down for life insurance.
  • Additional coverage above normal health insurance coverage. This can include costs for rehabilitation and other expenses not normally coverage by your existing health care policy.
  • Premiums are tax deductible. You can claim a tax deduction if you pay the total cost of the premium out of pocket.
  • Flexibility on how the benefit is paid. You can choose to receive a payment in a lump sum or have the benefit paid on an ongoing basis to help with monthly living expenses.
  • Flexibility on how benefit payments are used. You can use benefits to pay for a variety of incidental expenses related to your injury or for living expenses.

How Much Does Personal Accident Insurance Cost?

Naturally, there are several variables that will determine the actual cost of a policy, but you can find coverage for about $20 or less per month for an individual and $35 to $40 per month for a family, depending on the policy benefits, amounts, and the carrier you choose.

Some of the factors that affect the cost of personal accident insurance include:

Age.  The older you are, the most likely you are to have an accident, so expect that your premium will be higher.  Also, insurers generally only provide coverage for people up to 70 years old.

Occupation.  If you’re a professional skydiver or heavy crane operator, expect to pay more than if you’re any kind of an office worker.

Benefit amount.  The higher the benefit amount, the higher the premium.

Coverage options.  The more comprehensive policy that you choose, the higher the premium will be.

Who Needs Personal Accident Insurance?

Some people will derive more potential benefits from having personal accident insurance than others.  It can prove to be an effective policy for people such as:

  • Motorcyclists, from casual weekend riders to daily drivers using a motorcycle as a primary form of transportation;
  • Bicyclists, especially those who ride in groups for extended periods and geographic lengths;
  • Horse riders or those who regularly engage with large and potentially dangerous animals;
  • Senior citizens and the elderly who are more prone to accidents as shown by statistics;
  • Children and students who are especially active during their formative years through college;
  • Self-employed who may need additional coverage that health insurance may not provide or who engage in highly active occupations;
  • Members of sports clubs;
  • Tradesmen who work with dangerous equipment such as saws, drills, presses, and other power tools, and
  • Families who want an extra layer of financial protection in addition to other forms of insurance.

Is Personal Accident Insurance Necessary?

Not always, but there are many instances where it makes good sense to invest in a policy.

For example, if you’re engaged in a dangerous occupation or you can’t afford the premiums for a life insurance policy, then a personal accident insurance policy may be necessary to provide you and your family with added security and peace of mind.  If that is an important goal for you and your family, then personal accident insurance is a wise and reasonable investment.

Is Personal Accident Insurance Worth it?

The short answer is, it depends.

Under several circumstances, personal accident insurance is worth it.  According to the National Safety Council, close to 40 million Americans get medical attention for injuries each year.  In addition, the NSC also provides details on the odds of dying due to various activities, many of which could be classified as accidents ranging from motor vehicle crashes to firearm discharges or electrocution.

Personal accident insurance may also make sense for you or your family if:

  • You work in a dangerous occupation.
  • You drive long distances for your job.
  • You have an active lifestyle with family members who play a lot of sports.
  • You engage in hazardous hobbies such as hang gliding, rock climbing, scuba diving, or riding dirt bikes.
  • You want added protection to offset the high out-of-pocket expenses that may be associated with your healthcare plan. With personal accident insurance in place, you may be able to lower your health insurance premium by raising the deductible because of the added coverage you enjoy at a less expensive cost.
  • You have a low tolerance for financial risk and exposure when it comes to medical expenses.
  • You do not have a life insurance policy or cannot afford to get one.

How Much Personal Accident Insurance do I Need?

Part of determining how much personal accident insurance you need is driven by what you can afford. If you are financially able, insurance experts recommend buying the same amount of personal accident insurance as life insurance coverage that you have.  Ideally, this means if you have a $100,000 life insurance policy, you should also have a $100,000 personal accident insurance policy as well.

Many people can’t afford to buy enough life insurance coverage, or they underestimate the financial hardships they might encounter if a loved one dies.  In those instances, because personal accident insurance costs less, it might be wise to buy more accident insurance as a safeguard that fits within your budget.

How much personal accident insurance you should buy can also be influenced by your occupation.  The more dangerous your occupation, the more you should consider a personal accident insurance policy.  It may make sense for people who are heavy equipment operators, commercial fishermen, construction workers and other similar employment where serious injuries are higher than normal.

How Do I Choose Which Personal Accident Insurance to Buy?

Like any other major purchase, you need to do research, shop and compare before deciding which personal accident insurance to buy.

Some things to consider include:

Policy terms and conditions

  • Exclusions
  • Cost
  • Policy limits
  • Financial stability of the provider
  • Customer service reviews and reputation
  • Payment turnaround time
  • Ease of submitting a claim
  • Payouts for out-of-pocket expenses
  • How does a policy work in concert with my life insurance?
  • Details of family coverage
  • Is my age a factor?
  • How does this particular policy fit into my overall financial strategy?

Which Personal Accident Insurance is Best?

There is no one set policy that is the absolute best.  It depends on your needs and circumstances.

First, determine the type of coverage you need and the amount that you want.  Look for stable, well-known companies that have strong financial metrics which can be determined by looking at ratings agencies such as A.M. Best.  It is the oldest and most widely recognized provider of insurance company and industry data and news.  You can also check out the Better Business Bureau, a reliable provider of unbiased information on insurance companies based on consumer input.

In some cases, an employer will offer personal accident insurance through a group policy.  In this case, the work has been done for you and you can either decide to opt in at a reduced premium or go your own way by working with an independent agent.

Another possibility for comparing and purchasing accident insurance policies from various insurance companies is Emerge.  This website helps you make decisions about personal accident insurance based on your lifestyle and budget.

 

 

 

Cremation has become a more popular alternative to traditional burials in recent years with as many as 50 percent of all final dispositions of remains now being cremated.  Cremation has become an increasingly favored alternative to traditional burial because it is more economical, flexible, simple and uses less of the earth’s natural resources.

If you’re considering cremation for a loved one or eventually for yourself, here are some things you should know about the process.

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What is Cremation?

Some people assume that creation is an actual funeral service or an action that completes the final disposition of a person’s remains.  That is not the case.  Cremation is simply the process of preparing human remains for final disposition by reducing the body to ashes and bone fragments using high heat and flame.

The process takes two to four hours in a sealed cremation chamber and then the remaining fragments are broken up even further to create a granular whitish grey texture (ashes).  The average adult’s cremated remains will weigh between four to six pounds.

Most religions allow cremation except Orthodox Jewish, Islamic, Eastern Orthodox and some fundamentalist Christian faiths.  The Catholic Church allows cremations as long as it is not chosen for reasons that are in conflict with Christian teachings.

What is the Process for Cremation?

 A casket is not required for cremation, but most states require that there is some kind of container that is either made of wood or cardboard that is cremated with the body.  Embalming is not required before cremation, but some people choose to have a body embalmed if they are going to have a funeral service before the body is cremated.

If there has been a traditional funeral service, the body is typically cremated in the clothing worn at the funeral.  Otherwise, a body is cremated in whatever clothing they were wearing when they passed away.  This may be a hospital gown, pajamas or just a sheet, whichever the family prefers.

Although a funeral home is involved most of the time, cremation is generally contracted out to a third-party provider at an offsite location.

After the body is transported to the crematory, jewelry is removed, and if the person had a pacemaker or other medical device, it is removed as well since this represents an explosion hazard.  The container is placed in a cremation chamber and the temperature is raised to between 1,400 and 1800 degrees resulting in all organic matter being consumed by the heat or by evaporation.

The remaining material is known as cremains which are carefully removed from the chamber.  A magnet is also used to collect any metal that was in the body such as metal joints, or bridgework.  Gold or silver teeth are vaporized during the cremation.  After the cremains are further pulverized, they are placed in a temporary container or in an urn provided by the family.

There are strict rules regarding operating policies and procedures to make sure that remains are clearly identified and there are no mix-ups when it comes to delivering cremains after the fact.

In addition, it is not only illegal to cremate more than one person at a time, it is also physically impossible, because most cremation chambers are only large enough to accommodate a single body at a time.

How Soon After Death Should Cremation be Done?

There are several steps that are part of the cremation process:

  • After a person passes away, their body is stored in a climate-controlled environment until a death certificate is processed. This takes about 48 to 72 hours in most states.
  • A burial transit permit will need to be issued in the county where the death took place so that the body can be transported to either the funeral home for services or directly to the crematory.
  • A medical examiner will need to approve the cremation which can take another two to three days depending on the laws of the state where the cremation is to take place.
  • The next of kin will also need to give written permission for the cremation unless the deceased gave cremation authorization prior to passing away.
  • After that, the cremation is generally completed in another three days.
  • Overall, the entire process will take between 10 and 15 days in most cases.

Where Should I go for Cremation Services?

In some states, only a licensed funeral director can make arrangements for a cremation.  Depending on the laws of your state, you may be able to work directly with a crematory or you may be required to work with a funeral home.  Some crematories will only work with a funeral home.

By law, all funeral homes and cremation businesses must quote their prices either over the phone or by providing you with a copy of their General Price List if you visit them in person.  You should either seek a referral from a trusted source or call several funeral homes or crematories to get pricing, see what services are provided and how they can assist you with all aspects of a cremation.  In some markets, the local Funeral Consumers Alliance will publish a price survey making it easy to compare pricing at a glance.

It should also be noted that no casket is required for a cremation, but most crematories require that a body be placed in a rigid and combustible container.  As a result, federal regulations require that funeral homes must provide these containers at a reasonable cost.

If you want to hold a service before you have your loved one cremated, funeral homes will also rent a nice casket that families can use for visitation or services.  Be aware that just renting a casket can cost as much as $800 for a single use, so if you’re trying to keep services within a reasonable budget, you may want to consider other alternatives.

Can the Family Watch the Cremation?

Generally, family members may be present when the body is placed into a cremation chamber.  Policies do vary from one crematory to another so it’s best to ask what those policies are when you are shopping around for a provider.

Can Cremation be Done After Embalming?

Yes, but in many cases, embalming may not even be required if a body is to be cremated.

Generally, people have a body embalmed when there is going to be a public viewing of the body or if the body is going to be transported a long distance, or if there will be a long time before the body is actually cremated.

Check with your local funeral director to find out the specific rules for your state before deciding on embalming or not.

Many people choose direct cremation, which is the most affordable cremation option.  Direct cremation takes place shortly after a person dies, without embalming or a viewing.

What Can I Do with the Cremated Remains?

Options vary from state to state, but there are many things a family can do with remains after a cremation has taken place. Cremains are sterile and pose no health hazard, so there are not a lot of heavy-handed regulations regarding their final disposition. Here are some possibilities to consider:

  • You can scatter remains on land just about anywhere as long as you are discreet. Many people request scattering over places that have been special to them in their lives, and for the most part, scattering on land is legal in most jurisdictions.  If you want to scatter cremains on private property, the appropriate thing to do is to get permission from the owner beforehand.
  • Scattering at sea is also a popular option. Many people rent boats to hold a private service on the water.  Federal regulations require that cremains be scattered at least three miles out from shore, but the Environmental Protection Agency does not enforce this rule.  Scattering at sea is also popular for military personnel, retirees and their dependents.  The Navy or the Coast Guard will perform this service free of charge.  However, because a ship must be deployed in the ocean, no family members may be present.
  • Many people choose to place remains in an urn in a columbarium niche. These are located in mausoleums in cemeteries and provide a private and protected place where family members can return to pay their respects and honor their loved ones.  Some churches also have columbarium niches to place remains as well.
  • Burial in a cemetery is also an option. It is possible to either bury the remains in a regular grave or in a special urn section of a cemetery.  You may be able to bury two or three urns in a single grave site depending on the regulations of the cemetery, meaning that your loved ones will be together in perpetuity.
  • Some people choose to keep a loved one’s remains at their home. They may choose to place an urn on a mantel or bookcase, or have a special container created that reflects how the person is chosen to be remembered.
  • It is possible to also bury a person’s remains on land that you own or on another person’s private property, with their permission. The only caveat here is that the grave and the remains may be disturbed or possibly destroyed if the property is sold and used for other purposes.
  • Another option gaining popularity is memorializing a loved one through the creation of cremation jewelry. Cremation jewelry is either created using a small vessel that stores a small amount of the person’s remains and is then worn as jewelry or using the ashes to be transformed into glass beads, synthetic diamonds or other similar pieces.

What is Cremation Jewelry?

Cremation jewelry is also known as memorial jewelry, remembrance jewelry or funeral jewelry.  Although it has been around for quite a while, the idea behind cremation jewelry is new to many people.  Essentially, cremation jewelry allows family members to keep the memory of a loved one close at hand at all times by transforming a small amount of the deceased person’s remains into a permanent keepsake.

There are two types of cremation jewelry.  Cremated ashes can be placed in a small vessel which can then be worn like regular jewelry.  A small urn with a screw-off top is loaded with the ashes and then sealed.  Pendants are the most common form of this type of cremation jewelry.  The second type of cremation jewelry is made from the ashes of the deceased person.  Ashes can be mixed with glass or porcelain and then transformed into beads, crystals or even synthetic diamonds.  This is the more expensive option of the two and can take months to complete.

Many people love the idea of cremation jewelry for a variety of reasons.

  • Many people will spend thousands of dollars on a traditional funeral and while cremation is a less pricey alternative, there can still be expenses ranging into the hundreds of dollars if a traditional cremation urn is placed in a cemetery or a columbarium.  Cremation jewelry can cost as little as $50 per piece, providing a family with more financial flexibility when cost is a concern.
  • Cremation jewelry is also more portable and can easily be customized. With cremation jewelry, it is easy to carry a loved one’s memory with you at all times, and several people can honor a loved family member at the same time.  Each person can also choose a unique piece of jewelry that is special to them, making the memory even more personal.  There are a wide variety of jewelry options for both men and women to choose from creating maximum flexibility when it comes to making an important choice about what to wear.

Can I Use Veteran’s Benefits if I Choose Cremation?

All honorably discharged veterans, their spouses and minor children are eligible for interment in a national cemetery if they choose cremation.  There is no charge for the interment and cremated remains can be placed in an in-ground grave, garden niche, or in a columbarium based on the family’s preference.  It’s advisable to check in advance on these options because not all national cemeteries offer all three options.

If the interment takes place in a national cemetery, free military honors will be provided for eligible veterans if families request them.  This will include a funeral honor ceremony consisting of the folding and presentation of the American flag and the playing of Taps.  Free headstones and markers are also available.

The VA will reimburse honorably discharged veterans with up to $300 for expenses as long as they meet requirements.  Veterans who died during active duty or who were discharged due to a service related injury can receive up to $2,000.

For more information on burial and cremation benefits are available on this VA fact sheet.

Can Cremation Ashes be Mailed or Taken on an Airplane?

Cremains can be mailed or carried by hand to another destination.  If they are to be mailed, the remains must be placed in an inner container and sealed, and then surrounded by a padded outer container.

If you want to fly with cremated remains, the best thing to do is to contact an airline directly to see what their policies are regarding traveling with remains.  Some airlines will allow them to be carried on board or checked as baggage.  Other airlines will only allow remains to be sent as cargo.

When you take remains on a plane, it is best to just leave them in the container as they came from the crematory.  Keep in mind that they will be x-rayed so you must not place the remains in a metal container, such as an urn, prior to your flight.  Metal containers prevent officials from seeing what is inside.

If you have been issued a certificate of cremation, you should bring that with you on the flight to authenticate that you are indeed traveling with remains.  Some airlines may actually have this as a requirement before you can board the plane.  You might also let the funeral home know beforehand that you intend to travel with the remains on a plane or that you plan on mailing them, so that appropriate measures can be taken.

Which is Cheaper Cremation or Burial?

One of the things that will help determine if a cremation or a burial is better for your situation is price.

According to industry statistics, a traditional funeral will cost anywhere from six to eight times more than a direction cremation.

Cremation vs Burial Cost

Depending on the region of the country, a cremation will run from about $700 to $1,200.

The average burial costs can exceed $6,000 and may not include grave vaults or memorial markers and other add-ons that may be presented to you.

To get an accurate accounting of the costs associated for each, the FTC’s Funeral Rule requires providers to provide pricing up front and you must also be presented with a full range of options, not just the most expensive ones.

Which is Greener Cremation or Burial?

Cremation is considered a much greener form of final disposition than a burial.  Here’s why.

  • For starters, traditional burials usually mean embalming bodies with formaldehyde and it’s estimated that about 800,000 gallons are used in that process every year. When a body goes into the ground, so does that toxic chemical.  Burial plots and cemeteries also use large amounts of acreage, and also create an added problem of leaving unrecycled metals, concrete and other materials in the ground for a long period of time.
  • Although cremation uses more energy and releases greenhouse gases into the air, some state-of-the-art crematories have installed emission controls to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide that is released. New filtering technologies and energy efficiencies are also being implemented to continue to abate pollution issues related to cremation.
  • If you are concerned about keeping a cremation as green as possible you can always choose a casket or container made of recycled cardboard, ask your crematory to recycle any medical devices or metals left over from the cremation process, or choose an energy efficient cremation provider.
  • You can also choose scattering on land or at sea instead of a permanent burial place or placing an urn in a columbarium, or opt for a direct cremation which will eliminate the need for using embalming fluid.

Some people are now also choosing bio-cremation which uses alkaline hydrolysis instead of high heat to dissolve a body.  It uses 1/8th of the energy used in a traditional cremation.  It is currently legal in 14 states and many others are considering approval to permit the process.

Is it possible to be cremated for free?

If a body is donated to science, then cremation can take place free of charge.

There are several organizations throughout the country that will work with families to donate a loved one’s body upon death for medical research purposes.  Generally, cremated remains are returned to family in about two to four weeks.  Not only are families helping the greater good, they can also save hundreds of dollars by going this route.

If this is a possible option for your family, it’s best to try and make arrangements in advance.  Here are some organizations that accept donated bodies:

Anatomy Gifts Registry – a Maryland nonprofit that supplies body specimens for research

Banner Sun Health Research Institute – an Arizona organization that specializes in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cardiovascular research

Science Care – the world’s largest accredited whole body donation program

Medcure – a whole body donation program for professionals engaged in anatomical study

Several medical schools also accept body donations to allow students to further their studies.  An online search should produce several additional possibilities if this is an avenue you would like to consider.

 

What you Should Know About Death Certificates

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When a person passes away, there are several important actions necessary to ensure the person’s estate is handled in a timely and appropriate way.  To initiate many of these tasks, such as collecting on a life insurance policy or to legally transfer assets, a person will need to have a death certificate as proof of the person’s passing.

Some people seek out death certificates when they are researching family genealogy as well.  It should be noted that most states did not start recording deaths until the early 1900s and some states did not start until as late as 1930.

New England states including Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire have records dating back the longest when some towns began the documentation process when the first resident of the town passed away.

In this article we will be covering some important factors about what you need to know about death certificates.

  1. What is a death certificate?
  2. How are death certificates used?
  3. Issuing a death certificate
  4. What information is on a death certificate?
  5. What information is on a death certificate?
  6. Getting copies of a death certificate
  7. How to make changes to a death certificate
  8. Are death certificates public records?
  9. Can I view death certificates online?

What is a death certificate?

A death certificate is an official government document that certifies the date, time, location and cause of death.

It also provides other important information that is used by a variety of entities who have financial interests in the deceased person’s estate, and is also used to track changes in society.

Death certificates must be completed and signed off by a medical practitioner such as a doctor, medical examiner or a coroner, as well as the entity requesting the issuance of a death certificate.

Many times, this is a funeral director or a burial agent, or a family member acting in those capacities.

What are death certificates used for?

Death certificates are used to facilitate closing bank accounts, claim life insurance benefits and file taxes, along with many other personal and legal purposes.

In some instances, a person will need to supply an entity with an official death certificate that bears an official state stamp or seal, and in other cases only a copy will be required.

If you are handling the deceased person’s affairs, here are some scenarios where you will need either a copy, or you will supply an original death certificate, which will be returned to you:

  • Social Security
  • Local bank accounts
  • Credit Cards
  • Utilities and phone companies
  • Motor vehicle licensing
  • Filing a will with your county courthouse

You will need to supply an original death certificate under the following circumstances:

Can a death certificate be changed?

Yes, one of the common reasons death certificates are changed is incorrect information.  The biggest reason you need to make sure the death certificate is accurate is so it doesn’t impact any associated insurance settlements.

You should always check with your states about who can request changes on a death certificate as all states are not created equal.

For example, changing death certificates in Texas is a different process than death certificates in Michigan or death certificates in California.

Who issues a death certificate?

A funeral home or other entity in charge of a deceased person’s remains will be responsible for gathering information that will be used to file and ultimately issue a death certificate.

This will involve getting information from family members and securing the signature of an appropriate medical professional who will certify the death.  In some instances, a police officer or a paramedic may also be able to sign a death certificate as well.

State laws dictate that this process be completed within a matter of a few days following the person’s death.

Once the information has been gathered, the death certificate will be filed with the registrar and the county health department where the death took place.

Typically, deaths must be reported to the health department within 72 hours after the death takes place.

What information is on a death certificate?

A death certificate contains important information about the person who passed away. Information will vary from state to state, but at a minimum, the information included on death certificates will include:

  • The deceased person’s full name
  • Address
  • Birth date and birthplace
  • Father’s name and birthplace
  • Mother’s name and birthplace
  • Social Security number
  • If the deceased was a member of the U.S. armed forces
  • Marital status
  • Name of surviving spouse
  • Cause of death (cancer, heart attack, etc.)
  • Manner of death (natural, accident, homicide, etc.)
  • Race
  • Usual occupation
  • Date, time, and place of death
  • A signature line for a medical professional or coroner to certify the death and information on the application

To see a U.S. Standard Certificate of Death application from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, what specific information is required, and how it might be filled out, go here.

The National Home Funeral Alliance also has several examples of death certificates that you can view as well.

NOTE:  Since 1990, for public versions of death certificates, some states may redact the specific cause of death to comply with HIV confidentiality rules.  However, immediate family members, government agencies and law enforcement personnel can always access a death certificate containing the full cause of death.

Getting copies of a death certificate

The easiest way to get copies of a death certificate is to order them through the funeral home or mortuary that is handling the deceased’s remains.

In most cases, if you are the executor of the deceased person’s estate, you will need at least 10 copies, and maybe more, depending on the complexity of the person’s estate.

If 60 to 90 days or more has gone by since the deceased person passed away, you will need to contact the county or the state office of vital records to get copies.

Be prepared to pay for copies of the death certificate, which normally run about $10-$15 for the first copy.  If you are the executor of the person’s estate, you can reimburse yourself for those costs from the estate at a later date.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains a list of where to write for vital records for each state.  You can access the list here.

Informational copies of death certificates are available to anyone who requests them, but certified copies are only available to those with a direct connection to the deceased, such as an immediate family member, an executor, or someone who has a financial interest in the person’s estate.

Some jurisdictions approach this differently and may be more restrictive regarding the availability of death certificates.  For example, in New York, only close relatives such as a spouse, parent, child or sibling of a deceased person can obtain a death certificate.  The only other exception in this case is by a person or organization that has a documented lawful right, a medical need, or a New York state court order.

In all cases, you should wait for the coroner or medical examiner to determine a final cause of death before trying to order copies of the death certificate.

Many institutions, such as insurance companies and banks, may require the final and official cause of death to be shown on the certificate before transacting business with an executor.

How to make changes to a death certificate

There are times when the information on a death certificate changes, is missing, or is originally recorded inaccurately.  When this happens, initiating changes in the death certificate can be by anyone as long as evidence is presented to support the claim and the changes are approved by the person who originally approved the death certificate.

However, some states have restrictions on who can file the necessary paperwork.  You will need to check the laws of your state to see to what degree you are eligible to change a death certificate.

Making changes on a death certificate is important because it may impact life insurance policies as well as demographic data.  All errors such as misspelled names, wrong addresses and other personal information should always be corrected.

The other thing to consider is that there may be time restrictions on who can make a change in a death certificate.  After a certain length of time, you may only be able to make changes through your state’s vital statistics and information registry.

In many states, you can initiate the change process online by accessing forms and researching the step-by-step process.  However, to complete changes, you will probably need to mail those forms along with supporting documentation because in most cases originals of documents are needed.  Supporting documentation could include a birth certificate, armed forces discharge papers, or other similar types of information.

You may also be able to amend a death certificate in person by going to your local registrar.  Local registrars will vary by jurisdiction, but may include a county health department, county clerk, or county recorder.  You can also visit the funeral home that handled the deceased’s services and they will probably be able to make the changes for you.

Are death certificates public?

Yes.

Just like marriage and divorce records, death certificates are public records.

Your county recorder, county clerk or other similar record-keeping body will maintain the death certificate on file and it can be accessed for viewing at any time.

To view death certificates when a person passes away outside of the United States, you will need to access the National Center for Health Statistics.

After the death certificate information has been received and entered into the system, the actual certificate is sent to the appropriate physician or medical examiner for their signature.  It is then submitted to the county’s vital statistics office where certified copies are created.  This can take anywhere from 10 days to several weeks.

Death Certificate Delays

Delays can occur when there is an investigation surrounding the death, an autopsy needs to be performed or there are other delays for various reasons.

One of these delays may be due to a doctor refusing to sign a death certificate if they are unsure of the cause of death.  While there are laws that prevent doctors from delaying a final death certificate without good reasons, you may encounter this and you could have to force the issue to get the death certificate completed.

In other cases, the cause of death may be missing due to the fact that it is unknown or that there were several health issues that were contributing issues to the cause of death.

After they have been signed, certified copies of the death certificate with an official seal are generated and then returned to the requesting parties, such as funeral homes or funeral directors, who will then disburse the official copies to requestors.

Can death certificates be found online?

It depends.

Each state is responsible for administering its own records and some states have been more proactive than others.  Record keeping for deaths was not standardized until the early 1900s and while some states have records that date back to much earlier, such as Massachusetts which began keeping vital records in the 1600s, others have been far less diligent.

In other instances, some states allow access only to family members and authorized members will need to go through a process to order and view copies online.

In some instances, private companies, such as FamilySearch.org,or Ancestry.com, may have records online that you might be able to access for a fee.

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Choosing music for a funeral service is an important task that can provide a comforting element to many grief-stricken people who cared deeply about the person who passed away.

Funeral songs can start the healing process, provide a much needed pause in the ceremony for people to cry, be alone with their thoughts, or to quietly celebrate the departed person’s life.

While some funeral songs are more appropriate in certain situations than others, there really are no ultimately right or wrong choices when it comes to the music you select, other than limitations that you may be bound to by religious considerations.  Funeral songs have evolved, and a wide variety of choices are more accessible now than ever before.

As long as the music is in good taste and done in the right spirit, for the most part you are not limited by genre or style.

What many people who haven’t planned a funeral may not know, is that there are common top funeral songs that families choose for their loved one.

Considerations when choosing funeral songs

How will the venue impact your choice of funeral songs?

If you are having the funeral service at a funeral home, there’s a good chance the facility will be primed and ready for most any kind of musical request ranging from playing pre-recorded music, microphones for live singers, or having a wide range of music already on hand from which to choose.  It should also be easy to accommodate performers who may want to play guitars, violins, a portable keyboard/piano, or even bagpipes.

If you have a service at a church or other religious facility, you may be limited as to the kind of music you can play and also how it might be amplified.  Normally this is not too much of a problem, but it is best to think about it up front just in case.  Always discuss the music component with your clergy person before the service to avoid any surprises or disagreements.

Every service is different, but you should target using three to five songs at various points in the memorial.

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How will music be incorporated into the service?

A funeral works best when all details are decided beforehand, including how music will be incorporated into a service.  What to play and when to play it must be scripted in well before the service so that the actual event proceeds smoothly.

Regardless of what music you choose, make sure you listen to every funeral song all the way through.  The last thing you want is to make a selection, only to find out that there are inappropriate lyrics in the third verse of a song that you never really paid any attention to beforehand.

If you decide on live music, should it be a friend or family member?

This is a tough one.  Well intentioned family members may want to step into the void and offer to sing at the service which may be a good thing, or maybe not.  The upside is that a friend or family member can provide a personal touch that a singer for hire cannot.  However, unless you are very familiar with the singer’s abilities and they have already demonstrated they can sing at a service, then you run the risk that he or she may not be able to deliver a quality performance.  Worse yet, they may be overcome with emotion and not be able to complete the song at all.

If you decide to use a professional singer, chances are your funeral director or clergy person will have several possibilities to choose from.  There are usually a roster of singers who perform as church soloists, at weddings, or who make a living as vocal teachers.  The singer may also have a website with some of their previous performances so you can get a sense of what to expect in advance.

If you choose a professional singer, make sure to find out what their fee is, if they require any equipment for pre-recorded background music, or if they will also provide an accompanist.

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What about copyright considerations for funeral songs?

Funeral homes are bound by copyright laws and must comply with them during funeral services.  Some exceptions are allowed when the service is performed by a clergy member, but in general each funeral home must have licenses through BMI, ASCAP, SESAC and other licensing agencies.  Usually, funeral homes just purchase a license through a blanket agreement negotiated on their behalf for them through the National Funeral Directors Association.

In some instances, a license may not cover music used in a slideshow that you want to present before a service takes place.  It’s always best to check with a funeral director to see if there are any conflicts in this regard.  If you find that you are not covered in this instance, you might consider using music available online that is free and in the public domain.

Involve your family to make your funeral song choices easier

The loss of a loved one will impact family members in several different ways.  Some will be so overcome with grief that they will only want to just make it through the service and the difficult adjustment period that follows.  Others will want to play an active role in deciding how a loved one should be remembered and will want to be involved in every detail of the remembrance.  It’s important to understand and respect the full range of emotions that people will be feeling, and how those feelings will manifest themselves in things such as choosing the right songs for a funeral service.

Here are some things to consider that may help make your funeral song choices easier while also helping to move the grief and healing process forward.

  • During the planning stages, try to include family members in the discussion and not only ask for their choices when it comes to picking songs, but also use the occasion to share great memories, especially if they are linked to particular musical pieces.
  • Create a master playlist of the best funeral songs that memorialize your loved one. Be sure to add all possibilities, even if they seem a bit off beat or don’t fit a theme you’d like to use.
  • After your master list is assembled, gather as many of your family members together as possible and play all the songs on the list. See which ones trigger the most emotional responses among your family, along with memories that are sure to surface as well.  It’s an organic part of the healing process that will help people start to deal with their grief.
  • Create a final playlist with the help of family members. It should be a mix of music that helps celebrate the life you are remembering.  Once the list has been finalized, share it with the funeral home and the person presiding over the service so that they can appropriately incorporate it into the events of the day.

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What makes a good funeral song?  What are the most popular funeral songs?

Choosing music to be played a funeral is a highly personal choice, but sometimes people may be overwhelmed by all the details that go into planning a service and may need suggestions to help them come up with the best musical selections.  There are many ways to make musical decisions and going with your gut is always a safe way to go.  But if you’re stuck for ideas, here are some ways you can narrow your choices.

Most Popular funeral songs

These are some of the most popular and commonly play funeral song choices.  When in doubt, you can always rely on any of these to provide a meaningful place in your service.

  1. Amazing Grace – Elvis Presley
  2. Angel – Sarah McLachlan
  3. Angels – Robbie Williams
  4. Candle In The Wind – Elton John
  5. Death Is Not The End – Bob Dylan
  6. Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley
  7. Have I Told You Lately – Van Morrison
  8. Memory – Barbra Streisand
  9. My Heart Will Go On – Celine Dion
  10. My Way – Frank Sinatra
  11. Over The Rainbow – Eva Cassidy
  12. Tears In Heaven – Eric Clapton
  13. Unchained Melody – Righteous Brothers
  14. Unforgettable – Nat King Cole
  15. What A Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
  16. Wind Beneath My Wings – Bette Midler

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Funeral songs by genre

If the deceased was a fan of a particular kind of music, you might want to consider these possible choices:

Pop and Contemporary Funeral Songs

  1. Angel — Sarah McLachlan
  2. Bittersweet Symphony — The Verve
  3. Fields of Gold — Eva Cassidy
  4. Fix You — Coldplay
  5. Goodbye My Lover — James Blunt
  6. Hallelujah — Leonard Cohen
  7. Halo — Beyoncé
  8. How Long Will I Love You — Ellie Goulding
  9. I Will Always Love You — Whitney Houston
  10. I Will Remember You — Sarah McLachlan
  11. Lay Me Down — Sam Smith
  12. Make You Feel My Love — Adele
  13. Never Tear Us Apart — INXS
  14. One Sweet Day — Mariah Carey
  15. Tears in Heaven — Eric Clapton
  16. To Where You Are — Josh Groban
  17. Wind Beneath My Wings — Bette Midler
  18. You Raise Me Up — Josh Groban

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Country Funeral Songs

  1. Angels Among Up – Alabama
  2. Go Rest High on That Mountain – Vince Gill
  3. I Hope You Dance – Lee Ann Womack
  4. I’m Already There — Lonestar
  5. Jealous of the Angels — Jenn Bostic
  6. Live Forever — Billy Joe Shaver
  7. See You Again — Carrie Underwood
  8. Temporary Home – Carrie Underwood
  9. There’ll Be You – Faith Hill
  10. The Dance — Garth Brooks
  11. When I Get Where I’m Going — Brad Paisley/Dolly Parton
  12. Clouds – Montgomery Gentry
  13. I Can Only Imagine – Bart Millard

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Broadway/Musicals Funeral Songs

  1. Borrowed Angels — Kristin Chenoweth
  2. If Ever I Would Leave You – “Camelot”
  3. Memories – “Cats”
  4. Moon River – “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”
  5. Over the Rainbow – “Wizard of Oz”
  6. Someone to Watch Over Me – “Oh Kay!”
  7. Somewhere – “West Side Story”
  8. The Party’s Over from “Bells Are Ringing”
  9. You’ll Never Walk Alone – “Carousel”
  10. Wind Beneath My Wings – Bette Midler
  11. Who Can I Turn To – “The Roar of the Greasepaint…”

Classical Funeral Songs

  1. Adagio For Strings – Albinoni
  2. Adagio Lamentoso (from Symphony No. 6) – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
  3. Adagietto (from Symphony no. 5) – Gustav Mahler
  4. Agnus Dei – Samuel Barber
  5. Ave Maria – Andrea Bocelli
  6. Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten – Arvo Pärt
  7. Canon in D major – Pachelbel
  8. Lacrimosa, from Requiem in D Minor – W.A. Mozart
  9. The Lark Ascending – Vaughan Williams
  10. Pavane – Fauré
  11. Pie Jesu – Fauré and others

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Funeral Songs from the 50s, 60s and 70s

  1. Unforgettable – Nat King Cole
  2. Blackbird – The Beatles
  3. Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon and Garfunkel
  4. Knocking on Heaven’s Door – Bob Dylan
  5. Stand By Me – Ben E. King
  6. Spirit in the Sky – Norman Greenbaum
  7. Simple Man – Lynyrd Skynyrd
  8. Knights in White Satin – Moody Blues
  9. You Are the Sunshine of My Life – Stevie Wonder
  10. Candle in the Wind – Elton John
  11. Bright Eyes – Art Garfunkel
  12. Dust in the Wind – Kansas

Christian Funeral Songs

  1. How Great Thou Art – Carrie Underwood
  2. You’re Beautiful – Phil Wickham
  3. There Will Come a Day – Faith Hill
  4. How You Live – Point of Grace
  5. How He Loves – John Mark McMillan
  6. There Will Be a Day – Jeremy Camp
  7. You Never Let Go – Matt Redman
  8. 10,000 reasons – Matt Redman
  9. Jesus Died My Soul to Save – Pocket Full of Rocks
  10. Various Iona songs – John Bell

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Funeral Song Hymns for Catholic Services

  1. Amazing Grace
  2. Lord of All Being
  3. Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley
  4. Come Holy Ghost
  5. I Have Loved You
  6. We Remember
  7. Holy is His Name
  8. Here I Am Lord
  9. Be Not Afraid
  10. On Eagles Wings

Funeral Songs Based on a Family Relationship

The deceased will generally hold a certain place in a family’s structure.  Here are some suggestions based on family relationships.

Funeral Songs for Dad

  1. Song for Dad – Keith Urban
  2. The Greatest Man I Never Knew – Reba McEntire
  3. Because You Loved Me – Celine Dion
  4. Temporary Home – Carrie Underwood
  5. Father and Son – Cat Stevens
  6. Love Without End, Amen – George Strait
  7. Simple Man – Lynyrd Skynyrd
  8. Tenderly Calling – John Denver
  9. When I Look to the Sky – Train

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Funeral Songs For Mom

  1. Mama – Il Divo
  2. A Mother’s Wish – Kirtsen Andersen
  3. A Song for Mama – Boyz II Men
  4. Unchained Melody – The Righteous Brothers
  5. Ave Maria – Josh Groban
  6. Song for Mom – Jon Barker
  7. I Believe – Leanna Rimes
  8. Angel – Sarah McLachlin
  9. In the Blue of Evening – Frank Sinatra
  10. Wind Beneath My Wings – Bette Midler
  11. Heaven’s Garden – Kieran Brennan
  12. Mama’s Song – Carrie Underwood
  13. Mother Like Mine – The Band Perry

Funeral Songs For a Brother

  1. Down the River – Chris Knight
  2. Brother – Beck
  3. Missing You – Diana Ross
  4. I’ll See You in My Dreams – Joe Brown
  5. He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother – The Hollies
  6. Still They Ride – Journey
  7. No Expectations – The Rolling Stones
  8. Go Rest High on That Mountain – Vince Gill
  9. Lay Down Burden – Brian Wilson

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Funeral Songs For a Sister

  1. The Other Side of Life Now – Emmylou Harris
  2. Sissy’s Song – Alan Jackson
  3. View from Heaven – Yellowcard
  4. Hello – Evanescence
  5. Miss You – Blink 182
  6. Let It Be – The Beatles

Funeral Songs For a Grandparent

  1. Supermarket Flowers – Ed Sheeran
  2. Nan’s Song – Robbie Williams
  3. My Angel – Kellie Pickler

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Funeral Songs For a baby, child or young person

  1. Tears in Heaven – Eric Clapton
  2. Brahm’s Lullabye
  3. A Mother’s Prayer – Celine Dion
  4. Fly – Celine Dion
  5. Lullabye (Goodnight My Angel) – Billy Joel
  6. In Dreams – Roy Orbison
  7. Borrowed Angels – Kristin Chenoweth
  8. In My Daughter’s Eyes – Martina McBride
  9. God’s Will – Martina McBride
  10. Forever Young – Rod Stewart
  11. Over the Rainbow – Judy Garland
  12. There You’ll Be – Faith Hill

Funeral Songs For a Husband or a Wife

  1. Free as a Bird – The Beatles
  2. When September Ends – Green Day
  3. Keep Me in Your Heart – Warren Zevon
  4. The Living Years – Mike and the Mechanics
  5. Courtney’s Song – James Blunt
  6. Homesick – MercyMe

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Funeral Songs For a Military Veteran

  1. America The Beautiful
  2. Dixie’s Land
  3. El Captain by John Philip Sousa
  4. Eternal Father, Strong to Save (The Navy Hymn)
  5. Semper Paratus (Always Ready, US Coast Guard)
  6. Taps – Trumpet
  7. The Battle Hymn Of The Republic
  8. The Caissons Go Rolling Along
  9. The Marine’s Hymn
  10. The Stars and Stripes Forever
  11. Wild Blue Yonder (US Air Force)

Conclusion

These are just a few of the hundreds of possible songs you can choose from to use as funeral songs for your loved one.  If you’re still searching for just the right song or the right mix of songs, the Internet is loaded with possible choices that you can access for additional ideas.

A quick search using the key words “funeral songs” should give more than enough to help you make the right choices.

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Related Articles:

  1. What to do when someone dies?
  2. Financial management and planning for the eldery.
  3. How burial insurance works.

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Many older business owners eventually face the difficult decision of having to sell their business. After decades, there may not be a natural heir to take over the family business, nor may there be an employee who can provide the financial “exit” that you will likely desire to head into retirement.

If you think about it, over the long run every business will either shut down or be sold.

The smart business owner plans ahead for his or her eventual sale. As an insurance broker, we know that selling your business creates the opportunity to take advantage of life insurance. How? Life insurance policies can be invested in with the proceeds of a business sale to:

  • Create tax-free or tax saving investment buckets
  • Transfer excess sale proceeds into a future benefit amount for your estate
  • Minimize the capital gains taxes you pay on the sale of your business
  • Understanding any tax or county court liabilities
  • and many more . . .

It simply depends on your situation.  Our advisors have setup direct relationships with investment bankers and business brokers in different areas across the country.  Through those relationships, we’ve helped business owners of varying ages and net worths choose a financial strategy that includes a life insurance policy that fits their needs.  Our partners include:

Contact us to learn the answer to several questions, including: “How can life insurance help me save money on capital gains?” and “How do I sell my business and get the most money?”

{updated January 2019}

Getting life insurance with pre-existing conditions continues to be a hurdle for many individuals and families.

Life insurance is a thoughtful and efficient safeguard for protecting your loved ones and affairs in the case of your death. In many cases, finding a life insurance policy that fits your needs and budget is easy simply because there are so many options offered by numerous insurance providers.

Unfortunately, people with pre-existing health conditions have difficulty selecting a policy that does not drain their wallet, or an insurance company that will offer them coverage.

While pre-existing conditions can impact or limit your life insurance policy selection, it is not impossible to still get the coverage you want to protect your family later down the road.

What is a pre-existing condition?

In a basic sense, a pre-existing condition is a medical or health issue you may have before an insurance provider offers you coverage. This means if you have diabetes, a heart defect or a chronic illness before you apply for a life insurance policy, you are considered to have a pre-existing condition.

People with long-term or ongoing health issues are labeled as having pre-existing conditions by insurance companies as a way for the provider to determine how much of a risk you are.

Pre-existing conditions tell insurance companies that you have health concerns, which may cost them more money in the long run.

For example, an individual with diabetes who signs up for a life insurance policy can be considered more risky to cover, simply because diabetes can cause a myriad of health issues that lead to death.

In some cases, death occurs before the insurance company has collected a substantial amount in premiums, leading the company to lose money when paying out the policy. For this reason, many life insurance providers are weary about extending coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

As a protection for themselves, many insurance companies will not sell policies to people with certain pre-existing conditions or may charge a higher monthly premium.

What counts as a pre-existing condition?

There is no set list that explains every medical issue considered a pre-existing condition.

Insurance underwriters — financial professionals who evaluate how risky it is for the insurance company to cover applicants — are often the determiners of if you can receive coverage or not based on your health situation.

For this reason, many insurance providers require physicals, blood draws, health histories or other kinds of health analysis to determine if you have any conditions that make you a higher-risk applicant.

Some common pre-existing conditions include:

  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Heart Attack(s)
  • Heart Disease
  • High Cholesterol
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • HIV/AIDS
  • High Blood Pressure or Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Depression or mental illness
  • Chronic health conditions

Insurance underwriters may also calculate other factors to determine if you have a pre-existing condition, such as weight issues, sleep apnea, drug and alcohol abuse, or even smoking.

While many of these conditions can make it more difficult to obtain affordable life insurance, they are not necessary hard and fast reasons for why you cannot get life insurance.

In some cases, insurance providers may offer closer-to-normal premiums if you can show that you are in remission for a health condition, such as cancer, or have made great strides towards improving your health, such as lowering your high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

Even if you do not make improvements to your health, some providers will still offer coverage at reasonable rates or provide a policy with slightly different rules, such as waiting periods before your policy can be used.

How life insurance with pre-existing conditions can be hard to obtain.

As we explained earlier, pre-existing conditions tell insurance providers that you may be a riskier applicant to cover, and for that reason, they may not sell you a policy.

While this occasionally happens, there are other alternatives to be aware of if you are seeking out life insurance with a pre-existing condition.

Higher monthly premiums: Your life insurance policy may charge you a higher amount than the average person with the same plan.

All insurance underwriters grade applicants based on their health and group them accordingly into one of four categories:

  • Preferred Select/Preferred Plus: A person in excellent health who has no health risks or family history of genetic conditions (such as heart disease).
  • Preferred: A person in excellent health who may have some concerns such as slightly above-average blood pressure, cholesterol or weight.
  • Standard Plus: A person who has great health but may have minimal health concerns such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
  • Standard: A person who is generally healthy but may have some health concerns or a family history of illness.

Individuals who fall in the preferred plus category will have lower premiums that people in the standard category because they are considered less of a risk to insure.

But sometimes, people with pre-existing conditions do not fall into any of these categories. In these scenarios, you may have even higher premiums if the company chooses to extend a policy to you.

Luckily, if your health is expected to improve, you can contact the insurance company later down the road to request an updated medical evaluation. If you can show improvement, it is possible to lower your premium and change your insurance grading.

Waiting periods: Some people with pre-existing conditions are still able to receive life insurance, though they face limitations such as mandatory waiting periods.

With this kind of restriction, your life insurance policy is in place but cannot be used until a certain amount of time has passed while you are alive.

Some common waiting periods are between two and three years, meaning your family cannot use the policy if you die within that time. During waiting periods, you are still required to pay a monthly premium. 

Longer application process: With a pre-existing condition, your application may take longer to process.

Many healthy people in the preferred plus or preferred categories may have quick approval times, but because there is more risk to analyze, an insurance provider may take longer to determine if you are eligible.

How do I get life insurance with pre-existing conditions?

Shopping for life insurance with pre-existing conditions is as simple as selecting a company and looking through their available options.  Or, find an independent agent who can shop the best life insurance companies for you.

While a pre-existing condition can be a barrier, every insurer offers different options and has different requirements that you may meet.

To help make the process less complicated, consider contacting a PolicyZip life insurance specialist who can aid your search — just fill out the form below or call (888) 211-5685.

Estate planning may seem like an elaborate legal process for people with large amounts of real estate or wealth. But truthfully, estate planning is not contingent on how much money you have or the property you owe — it’s the process of planning for how your personal belongs, property and finances will be handled upon your death. Estate planning is a helpful process for anyone and can be a lifeboat for family members and loved ones after your passing.

Many people consider life insurance when thinking about protecting their family in the future, but do not realize that there is more they can do. Instead of thinking about just one or other, combining life insurance and estate planning can create a well-rounded end of life plan that helps take care of loved ones.

What is the difference between life insurance and estate planning?

It is easy to see life insurance and estate planning as related subjects, but they are more intermingled that you may expect. In fact, life insurance is considered a tool for estate planning, instead of an alternative to managing your affairs.

Life insurance offers financial security for your spouse, children or another person of your choosing in the event of your death. With life insurance, you pay a monthly premium to ensure that if you were to pass, your family would receive a lump sum of money (of your choosing when you signed up for the policy). This money can be used for funeral arrangements, to pay off expenses or debts you left behind, keeping a business you might own afloat until other arrangements can be made, or simply for daily living expenses for your family until they can get back on their feet. Life insurance does not designate who receives your belongings or assets and is simply a form of monetary support.

Estate planning, on the other hand, is a guide for your loved ones on how to handle your personal belongings, finances, and affairs after your death. Estate planning includes a variety of factors, such as who receives your personal assets (like money or real estate), your will, naming a caretaker or guardian for your dependents or pets, and more. Life insurance can be a tool used in estate planning to help your last wishes be carried out or to help with the costs of business or personal affairs you leave behind. Overall, life insurance is part of the estate planning umbrella and can be used in a variety of ways.

How can life insurance be helpful in estate planning?

Life insurance can be helpful in several ways when it comes to planning your estate. Everyone’s plans for life insurance differ based on each personal situation, but there are many common scenarios that fit your needs. When considering how you may want to use life insurance when planning your estate and last wishes, ask yourself these questions:

Do I have a family or young children who rely on me for their daily needs?
Many people believe that estate planning is for retirees, but many people begin the process at a young age, just in case, to ensure care for their growing family. Many parents choose to designate a family member or guardian for their children or dependents in the case of their death. A life insurance plan can provide a level of protection for loved ones in that it offers near-immediate payouts that cover their daily living expenses. In addition, you can use life insurance as part of your estate plan to ensure that young children are able to afford the cost of college should you no longer be around when they are old enough to attend.

Do I have a large estate?

Unlike life insurance, handling your estate and other affairs can take some time. In this situation, money to help with funeral arrangements or daily living expenses can be tied up for some time as it moves through the estate process. Life insurance can help your family during this time, with everything from big expenses to daily needs.

How will my family pay for funeral or memorial arrangements?

In the United States, the average traditional funeral costs between $7,000 and $10,000. The sticker shock can be additionally difficult for families facing unexpected deaths or who are not sure how to cover the cost. One important component of estate planning is handling the final expenses of a funeral  — and here, life insurance is a commonly used tool that can help.

Do I own a business that I want to pass on to a family member?

Life insurance can also be used to ensure your business or entrepreneurial venture keeps going even after your death. In many cases, sole proprietor businesses are difficult to run after the owner’s death because of a lack of funds; as the business is closed for some time, bills can stack up and lenders can begin calling. Life insurance policies can be used to float the business until arrangements can be made, but estate planning encourages you to consider a business plan for the company after your departure. In this case, the policy can be used to buy shares or a portion of the company to transfer ownership to a family member.

Do I have a large life insurance policy, such as a million dollar policy?

If you already have life insurance, estate planning can ensure that the money designated for your loved ones does not run out before necessary. With large policies such as million dollar life insurance plans, you may choose to create a trust of sorts that determines how the funds can be used after your death. This can tie in with wealth you are already leaving behind, or can have separate rules for disbursement. In many cases, people who take out million dollar policies often have business ventures or assets with some level of investment or debt; estate planning can dictate how you would like the funds to be used, which is especially helpful in situations where your spouse or children may not understand how business operations or your personal wishes.

Estate planning and thinking about the end of life are not necessarily fun things to do, but considering how life insurance can play into your estate plan is important. If you are thinking about starting the process, let PolicyZip help you locate the life insurance plan that fits your estate planning needs by filling out the form below or calling (888) 211-5685.

It may seem strange that a prior or in-progress bankruptcy could impact your ability to get life insurance, but unfortunately, it can. Bankruptcy proceedings can make it difficult to get a life insurance policy, especially if you are currently going through the bankruptcy process or you have just made your way through it. But why does your personal financial situation make it more difficult to get a life insurance policy? Insurance providers consider many factors when determining if they will give you a policy and the level of risk you present to them greatly impacts the kind of coverage you receive or how much you might pay for it. Unfortunately, bankruptcy can be a deciding factor in terms of risk.

While filing bankruptcy can make finding and getting a life insurance policy a more tricky process, having your debts cleared doesn’t mean that you are forever ineligible for a life insurance policy — it just takes time and understanding of how the bankruptcy process plays into your ability to purchase a life insurance policy.

Why Life Insurance Companies Are Weary of Bankruptcy

Life insurance companies rely on insurance underwriters — professional financial analysts whose job is to evaluate how risky it is for an insurance company to give you a policy — to determine if you qualify for life insurance. These underwriters work through each application to decide if extending you a life insurance policy would cost the company, and they do so through examining your health, financial situation, and other factors. This is why many people with pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes or cancer have a more difficult time finding a budget-friendly insurance policy for which they qualify.

Just like pre-existing conditions, medical underwriters will evaluate your personal financial situation to also determine risk. This is partially because a life insurance company wants to know that they will receive the monthly premium you pay for coverage. Someone going through bankruptcy or who has a recent discharge may have difficulty getting back on track financially, making you a less desirable life insurance candidate.

In addition, bankruptcy is a financially stressful and difficult time that can impact your mental health and big life decisions. Not every person who receives a bankruptcy discharge has all of their debts cleared, and many are still responsible for some kinds of repayment for the debt they own. In this situation, life insurance companies are wary of potential life insurance fraud, or contributing to a situation where someone considers life insurance one way of fully clearing debt for their family. This is especially the case immediately after a bankruptcy discharge when you haven’t paid much in premiums, and a life insurance policy payout upon death would be a financial loss for the company.

How Bankruptcy Can Impact Your Life Insurance Application

Listing a recent or ongoing bankruptcy on a life insurance application can impede your ability to get a policy. In most cases, it can lead to several outcomes:

Higher monthly premiums: The insurance provider may accept your application and grant you a policy, but because you are a risky client, they make try to protect themselves with higher monthly premiums. Generally, the longer you wait after bankruptcy to apply for a life insurance policy, the less your financial status will impact your application. This means that you may pay a higher premium six months after a bankruptcy discharge than you would one or two years later.

Waiting periods: An insurance company may still choose to give you a life insurance plan, but to add extra protection for themselves, they may institute a waiting period. Waiting periods prevent your beneficiaries from collecting a life insurance payout before a certain amount of time has passed — and in almost all cases, the owner of the policy must have been living through the waiting period. Common waiting periods range from two to three years, and if you die during that time, there is no payout. Following the waiting period, your beneficiaries have access to your life insurance funds if the situation were to arise.

Rejection: Unfortunately, a recent bankruptcy filing can lead to rejection of your life insurance application. An insurance company may deem you too risky to cover and choose to deny you a policy. In some cases, the insurance provider may recommend you try again after a certain period of time (ranging between months and years depending on how long it has been since your bankruptcy case). In almost all situations involving bankruptcy and life insurance plans, time is a key factor to determining whether or not you can get coverage. The longer the time since your bankruptcy discharge, the better.

What Happens If I Am Rejected?

It can sting to know that your life insurance application was rejected because of a bankruptcy filing, but do not be discouraged. Not every life insurance provider has the same underwriting rules, meaning some companies may still choose to give you coverage even if you have been rejected by another insurer.

Seeking out companies that are willing to work with bankruptcy can help you to find the best plan that fits your budget. Life insurance applications are generally free, so do not be afraid to narrow down your options and try again. But in all applications, it’s important to be honest about your medical and financial background — it can be tempting to fib or minimize details to get coverage, especially after rejections, but in the long run, insurance companies can still deny your application if they determine you have lied. Or, if the policy is awarded and the provider later learns you lied, you could face higher premiums.

Whether you have been rejected or are starting the search for a life insurance policy after bankruptcy, remember that there are different kinds of plans. Whole life plans often cost more upfront and may have more loopholes to jump through, making term life plans a strong option for someone who has recently filed bankruptcy. Since term life plans are only around for a span of several years, insurers may be more willing to extend a policy to you regardless of your financial situation. In any case, consider speaking with a PolicyZip life insurance specialist to see what your life insurance policy options are after bankruptcy.

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Life insurance is a great safety net to ensure that loved ones and family members are cared for in the event of your death — whether untimely or natural. But going through the steps of the process can be tedious. After qualifying for a policy at a monthly premium price you can afford, you may be wondering: “who should my life insurance beneficiary be?” While it may be obvious for some people, in other situations it can be a little more difficult to determine who should receive the financial payout upon your death.  Do not worry — there are a few things to know that will help narrow down the best recipient.

What is a life insurance beneficiary?

Life insurance is a tool that helps you care for personal affairs, funeral expenses and any dependents you have upon dying. In fact, most people have a particular person, be it a spouse, child, parent or friend, in mind when they make the decision to purchase life insurance. Doing so is often one step of estate planning that ensures you can take care of them even when you are no longer living. But to do so, you must legally designate a person to receive the life insurance payout. This person is the beneficiary.

The beneficiary is able to handle the life insurance funds and use them to pay for funeral and other expenses related to your estate. They can also use this money to cover living expenses or other costs, which is common in situations where a dependent spouse is the beneficiary.

Are there different kinds of beneficiaries?

When you are filling out your life insurance details, you may notice that there are two different types of beneficiaries listed: primary and contingent. It is important to understand how these kinds of beneficiaries work.

Primary beneficiary: The person you list as the primary beneficiary will be the initial person contacted to receive your life insurance payment. This person, in most cases, will receive the funds, so it is important to put your first pick here. In many cases, spouses or significant others are listed as primary beneficiaries.

Contingent beneficiary: The second person you list is somewhat like a backup beneficiary, in that if the primary beneficiary is deceased or cannot be found after your death, another person of your choosing will receive the life insurance payout. Choosing a contingent beneficiary is important, especially if you chose a spouse or significant other as your primary beneficiary. This ensures that if something happens to both of you, a person you designate will handle the life insurance funds. Common contingent beneficiaries are parents, siblings or adult children.

Who cannot be a beneficiary?

When you are narrowing down your beneficiary short list, it is good to know that some people cannot receive life insurance funds. In most cases, minor children (under the age of 18 or 21 depending on the state) cannot be beneficiaries. If you choose to list a child as a beneficiary, it is important to also list an adult legal guardian who would handle the payout on your child’s behalf.

In addition, incarcerated beneficiaries may not receive payouts, either. Many states have laws that prevent life insurance payments from going to people in jail, meaning that your life insurance funds could instead be handled by the person managing your estate.

Do I have to pick a person as my beneficiary?

Choosing a specific person to be a beneficiary can be difficult, especially if you have no next of kin or multiple children. In these cases, it is possible to designate a charity, trust or simply your estate as the beneficiary. Some people without heirs choose charities as their beneficiaries, which allows them to support a cared for cause even after death. In other cases, especially with large payouts or minor children, you may want to choose a trust as the beneficiary to ensure that funds are used appropriately and fairly. Designating your estate as beneficiary is also an option, and allows whomever is handling your estate to use the funds as described in your will or estate plans.

Do I need to have my beneficiary’s approval?

In many situations, you do not need to have a person’s approval to list them as a beneficiary. This allows you to choose whomever you want to receive the life insurance payout. But, beware if you consider designating someone other than a spouse as a primary beneficiary. Some states, such as Arizona, Louisiana, Nevada and Wisconsin, give legal claim to spouses who are not listed as beneficiaries. This means that if you designate a friend or family member as the beneficiary, your spouse could still have access to a portion of the payout upon your death.
Even if you choose a beneficiary without their permission, it is important to let them know you have a life insurance policy. Doing so can help expedite the payout process later down the road.

 What happens if I outlive my beneficiary?

Some people outlive the person designated as their life insurance beneficiary. This is one reason why life insurance companies require you to designate a contingent beneficiary so that in the case of a primary beneficiary’s death, funds will still go to the person of your choosing.

After your primary beneficiary’s death, you have the option of updating your beneficiary information. This means you can choose a new person to receive the life insurance funds. Keeping this information up to date can help with promptly dispersing funds.

Can I change my beneficiary?

It is important to know that you have the option to change your beneficiary, and life insurance companies will often suggest keeping your beneficiary information up to date. Many people look to change beneficiaries after major life events such as weddings, divorce or the death of a spouse. Doing so is especially important after divorce if the beneficiary listed is an ex-spouse, who legally would have the right to funds if you did not update your life insurance policy. Choosing to change your beneficiaries may also be an option after the birth or adoption of a child, especially if you decide to create a trust to ensure their case in case you were to unexpectedly pass.

In any case, it is a good idea to always be specific with whomever you choose to list as a beneficiary. Simply listing “wife” or “spouse” can lead to complications if you divorce later down the road, or writing in “child” can make it difficult to determine which children receive funds after your death.

As a business owner, you have a lot to think about and juggle when it comes to managing the day-to-day operations of your company. But something many entrepreneurs do not consider is the importance of business owner life insurance, a safety net that can help your family, business and employees in an unfortunate situation such as disability or death.  Life insurance strategies for business owners can have many faces, it’s important to think through your objective before making a decision.

There’s no set business owner life insurance policy, but there are variety of options that can help alleviate strain on your business and family should you become incapacitated or unable to support either. In many cases, some forms of insurance can ensure your business dreams continue on even after you are no longer able to run the company.

Why do I need life insurance?

You already know how risky it can be to launch your own business — it is a risk you take every day through fluctuating markets and a growing global economy that increases competition. It is easy to anticipate many of the variables related to operating your own business in analyzing the risk and benefits. But there are many variables you cannot truly predict such as accidents, disability and even death. As an entrepreneur, guarding your family and business is important, and life insurance is one safeguard that makes certain both can thrive, even if you are not around to help.

Talking about life insurance can seem grim, but consider it a necessity to securing the future of your family and business. This is especially important in the case of small or sole-proprietor businesses that rely on one person to generate income. Many businesses do not have contingency plans in place to tackle the “what ifs” of life, especially those that can lead to the demise of a business.

If you are still unsure about whether you really need life insurance as a business owner, consider these questions:

  • What happens to my family and business if I become disabled or die? Who will continue on the business and how will my family be able to support itself without me?
  • What happens to my business if an employee becomes disabled or dies? What if this employee is a key employee with knowledge that is difficult to replicate, and is no longer able to work?

What kind of insurance plans are out there?

Like we said before, there is no single kind of life insurance for business owners, but instead a variety that can be beneficial at protecting your business assets and family. Among the most common types geared towards entrepreneurs are individual life insurance, key person insurance, disability insurance and buy-sell agreements.

Individual life insurance: Many people are familiar with individual life insurance policies, which provide coverage for your family after your passing. This kind of life insurance ranges in amount and can be used to support your family financially, especially if you were the sole provider. Individual life insurance policies can also be used to cover some or all of your business debts, which is exceptionally beneficial if you operate a small business that relies on you to be feasible. Utilizing this kind of insurance policy can give your family time to determine what to do with a company, keeping debts and lenders at bay for a short time.

Key person insurance: Small business and large businesses alike can take advantage of key person insurance. This kind of policy provides a cash infusion if a key employee or company member dies. In many cases, top or key people impact the company’s directional planning, and having a policy for this person can give the business time to steady itself during the loss of an important person.

Disability insurance: When it comes to selecting insurance policies, many people worry about what will happen if they pass, but not if they suffer a life-altering disability that keeps them from working or managing their company. Disability insurance can provide income if you are no longer able to work — an especially important consideration if your family relies on you to generate income.

Buy-Sell Agreements: Some businesses have contingency plans for the death of an owner or key employee. Buy-sell agreements are meant to help ensure the company can continue moving forward even in this situation. This kind of insurance acts as a contract among multiple business owners that determines how the deceased owner’s shares will be sold and for what price to ensure the business continues operating. Fellow business owners can purchase the shares, which can be helpful in situations where the owner has no heir, or family is not interested or knowledgeable in running the business.

How large should my policy be?

The needed size of a life insurance policy varies among business owners, especially based on annual income, responsibilities and other factors. It is difficult to give a specific number that you should consider based on a variety of elements. But, there are components that you should build into your evaluation of life insurance policies, such as:

  • Your expected income per year and over your lifetime
  • Personal and business debts
  • Personal and future expenses
  • Personal and family responsibilities and obligations
  • The number of key employees you have

These factors can help you determine how much money would be needed to pay your debts and support your family while they make both life and business arrangements if you were to become disabled or die. While it is easy to look at the monthly premium as one more cost, a life insurance policy that considers in these things can make the difference when it comes to giving your family and employees enough time to gain their bearings before lenders, debt or other obligations come knocking. In the long run, this can allow a business to thrive down the road instead of shuttering its doors.

How do I go about getting life insurance as a business owner?

There are several kinds of insurance policies that benefit business owners and it can be tricky to determine which one is the best option. Evaluating your choices with help from a PolicyZip insurance specialist at (888) 211-5685 can help save time and money — two important things for busy business owners.

When planning for your future — or your child’s — it is easy to think of all the wonderful things: going to college, getting a fine education and starting down the path to an excellent life. But there are some not-so-rosy sides to thinking about the future, such as considering the need for life insurance for college students. At a time when many young adults are entering school without a family or financial obligations, it may seem strange to consider a large life insurance policy. But what many parents and children do not think about is the situation where death could occur and large student loan bills could loom.

Why consider life insurance for students?

In most cases, students heading off to college do not have a mortgage, a family to support or other financial obligations. In these cases, purchasing a large life insurance plan may seem strange. But as the cost of college increases, along with the amount of student debt accrued after four years of education, the reality is that losing a child or family member who has not repaid their student loans could leave you with a financial nightmare. This is especially true for family members who co-sign for students so that loans can fund their education; co-signers are often held responsible for remaining debt in cases where the primary borrower has stopped making payments, even in situations of death or disability.

Unlike many forms of debt, student loans do not necessarily go away when the borrower dies. While federal student loans are often forgiven, private loans are not legally required to do the same, meaning a co-signer dealing with the loss of a loved one could remain responsible. And to make matters worse, student loan debt often cannot be discharged during bankruptcy, meaning that if you are required to make payments but cannot meet the monthly cost, bankruptcy will not help.

What about college graduates?

The difficult truth of student loans is that they usually do not disappear quickly after graduation. For this reason, many people pay back educational loans into adulthood, even as they get married and raise families. Life insurance policies with enough room for student loan debt can help protect your family from financial burdens in the event that you die before the loans are repaid.

Do I really need life insurance to cover student loans?

While it is easy to see life insurance as another monthly expense that likely will not be used, mounting student loan debt should be a factor in decided whether to open a policy. If you are not sure if it is the right kind of financial protection for you, consider these factors:

  • Does your student loan lender offer death discharge? This is when lenders agree to erase debts owed if the student dies before they are repaid. If the lender does not, life insurance can be a strong financial safety net.
  • Are your student loans provided by the federal government or a private entity? Government and private loans operate by different sets of rules. Generally, government-issued student loans are wiped clean upon a student’s death, while private loans are not.
  • Is your student loan co-signed? For private loans, co-signers can be responsible for the cost of your unpaid debt, even in the event of your death. If this is the case with your loan, protecting a co-signer, just in case, can prevent burden at a rough time.

It is important to know the terms of your student loans (or those of a child or family member) when it comes to setting up safeguards. Doing so can help keep financial stress at bay during already difficult times.

What kinds of life insurance policies are available?

Life insurance generally comes in two options: term life and whole life. Both provide a payout in the event of you or a loved one’s passing, but term and whole life policies operate in two different ways. And, both kinds can be used to pay loan debt after a student’s death.

Term life insurance policies: Term life policies are designed to give you life insurance coverage but only for a period of time. For this reason, they are often more affordable than other kinds of life insurance policies. Term life insurance comes in pre-determined increments of time such as five years, 10 years or 20 years and can be used if the policyholder dies within that interval. If the covered person does not die, the plan simply expires when the interval ends. A large difference with term life policies is that they have no cash value, meaning that you cannot cash out your policy while living (that is cancelling the plan and receiving the money you have paid into it). While it may seem strange to invest money into a policy that will not retain value if you keep living, term life policies are a strong option in times where you have more financial responsibilities than income — such as while in college with student loans.

Whole life insurance policies: Whole life policies can also be used to help with student loan expenses in the case of death, but they function a little differently than term life insurance policies. Whole life policies do not have terms and do not expire, hence the name “whole life.” One perk to this kind of policy is that it cannot be canceled so long as you pay your premium on time each month, so there is no concern about changing health conditions affecting life insurance. In addition, whole life policies can be cashed out during your lifetime, meaning that money that has been paid in premiums can be borrowed and used on big expenses such as a college education or a down payment on a home. Whole life premiums are often more costly per month, but in the long run, this kind of insurance policy can be a beneficial financial tool.

Both kinds of life insurance policies are effective safety nets for student loan debt.

How large of a policy should I get?

It is difficult to say for sure how large of a life insurance policy you should take out, especially when it comes to incorporating the potential of paying back student loan debt. But, there are factors that can help you determine the amount to insure yourself or a child in college for:

  • How much income does my spouse or child need to survive without me?
  • What personal and family obligations do I have?
  • What persona, family or business debts do I have?
  • What living expenses will my family face without me?
  • What is my income, and how will my family get by without it?
  • How much student loan debt do I have, and how much am I anticipating paying in interest?

Buying a policy

Countless private insurance companies offer life insurance, and it can be hard to determine where to find the best policy at the most budget-friendly price. If you are not sure where to start, let PolicyZip help. Our life insurance specialists are here to help you make the most of your life insurance policy selection.

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