Deciding whether to purchase whole life or term life insurance is a personal decision that should be based on the financial needs of your beneficiaries as well as your financial goals. Life insurance can be a very flexible and powerful financial vehicle that can meet multiple financial objectives, from providing financial security to building financial assets and leaving a legacy.
Some insurance agents, such as independent agents, will compare policies from multiple vendors. However, this does not mean that the agent has access to all of the vendor’s policies. As insurance agents represent insurers, they may or may not have the experience and expertise required to advise you regarding the best policy for your particular situation. While independent insurance agents may be able to offer you more choices as they work with companies that are competing for your business, they generally only sell the insurance options that will provide them with the biggest profits. Keep this in mind when choosing between an insurance broker and insurance agent.
Term life insurance pays a specific lump sum to your loved ones for a specified period of time – usually from one to 20 years. If you stop paying premiums, the insurance stops. Term policies pay benefits if you die during the period covered by the policy, but they do not build cash value. They may also give you the option to port. That is, you can take the coverage with you if you leave your company.
Only eight companies out of the 14 below made our top picks list. Those listed as “best for…” each stood out to us in a certain area, whether it was a unique coverage option, stellar customer service, or an easy shopping process. That said, the other half may have options that interest you. (For instance: If you have an auto insurance policy with one of these companies, you might want to consider bundling discounts.)
While State Farm's shopping experience is well-reviewed, customers did not feel as strongly about it's claims handling process. The company scored about the same as the other four large companies, but was still mediocre. A large national company may be expected to not be very efficient because of the various departments involved in handling individual claims. If you want the assurances guaranteed to you by a large, "legacy" carrier, then State Farm is the best to go with.
Umbrella policies offer extra liability coverage on top of what's already covered by your standard homeowners insurance or car insurance policy. Umbrella coverage starts at $1 million. Our agents generally recommend an umbrella policy to people who have more than $500,000 in assets since that's typically where your standard homeowners policy will cap coverage. But you should also consider umbrella coverage if you're at risk of multiple lawsuits, like if you have a few teen drivers in the house or you own multiple properties, especially rentals. You can learn more about umbrella insurance here.
In times of need, we stand by you. We’re here to make sure you have the right coverage for your needs. And should an accident occur, our claims service will be there to help when you need it most. If you’re comparing our quote or policy to another insurer, be sure to understand the value of the coverage you’re considering. Compare apples to apples. Make sure driver and vehicle information are the same. Our auto policy is the only one backed by an On Your Side promise.
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Although insurance brokers work for their clients, they aren’t paid by them. Instead, they make commissions based on their sales. The commission is a percentage of the premium cost and varies by state law. It usually is between two and eight percent of the premium. If you work with a broker to buy homeowners, automobile, health, business, life or any other type of insurance, you will not pay them a fee for the services they provide.
People who choose Universal Life Insurance are typically looking to maximize their long-term coverage and are less concerned with building cash value. You would fit this category if, say, you were an older parent with young kids to see through college, or if you have a second home with a mortgage that will take you into retirement. If you want to be sure your long-term financial commitments are covered, Universal Life could work for you.
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Permanent life insurance policies do not expire. They are intended to protect your loved ones permanently, as long as you pay your premiums. Some permanent life insurance policies accumulate cash value. That means, the value of the policy will grow each year, tax-deferred, until it matches the face value of the policy. The cash can generally be accessed via loans or withdrawals, and can be used for a variety of purposes. This type of plan is typically portable so coverage can continue if employment terminates.
Brokers may be either retail or wholesale. A retail broker interacts directly with insurance buyers. If you visited a broker, who then obtained insurance coverages on your behalf, he or she is a retail broker. In some cases, your agent or broker may be unable to obtain insurance coverage on your behalf from a standard insurer. In that event, he or she may contact a wholesale broker. Wholesale brokers specialize in certain types of coverage. Many are surplus lines brokers, who arrange coverages for risks that are unusual or hazardous.
Allstate stands out for its comprehensive educational tools — it’s a great resource for new homeowners, or anyone who doesn’t like to buy anything without full knowledge of the space. With a robust guide filled with general homeowners insurance information, Allstate lets you arm yourself with everything you need to know. You can even get a personalized walkthrough of insurance-relevant stats for your specific address using Allstate’s GoodHome tool, which displays home details like market value, energy costs, and average repair costs of the most common hazards in the area (like fire or water damage). It also suggests tips for easing costs and choosing coverage.
While many factors go into calculating your rate, where you live is chief among them. Homeowners in states that are prone to hurricanes, hail storms, tornados and earthquakes tend to pay the most for home insurance. Insurance.com’s analysis of rates from top insurers for nearly every ZIP code in the country bears this out. Florida and Louisiana are the most expensive states for home insurance among six common coverage levels analyzed by Insurance.com. The least expensive states for home insurance are Hawaii and Vermont
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Virtually every state mandates that insurance agents and brokers meet licensing requirements, which normally entails the successful completion of a written examination. Prelicensing educational requirements may also apply, which can vary depending on the state and license type. Separate licenses are necessary for each line of insurance, including Life and Health and Property and Casualty. In addition, agents and brokers may have to meet ongoing continuing education requirements to maintain their licenses.