Life Insurance FAQ’s
Everything you want to know about life insurance but were too bored to ask. These life insurance FAQ’s will give you real knowledge about how life insurance works.
Accidental Death Benefit:
A rider added to a life insurance policy. An extra death benefit amount that is paid out in addition to the face amount of the policy if the insured dies by accidental means. It cost extra to get this benefit, and usually cannot exceed $250,000 to $300,000, and will not be more than the face amount of the policy.
Accelerated Death Benefit Option:
Also known as “living benefits.” This rider allows you, under certain circumstances, to receive the proceeds of your life insurance policy before you die. Such circumstances include terminal or catastrophic illness, the need for long-term care or confinement to a nursing home. Availability and specifics of these riders vary by carrier and state.
Most insurance companies calculate their insurance rates and the premium you will pay by nearest age. For example: You are 45 and it is December and your birthday is in March. Because in 3 months you will turn 46, you are closer to age 46 (your nearest age) in the eyes of the insurance company. They will charge you the premium of your nearest age and not your current age. Note: Some insurance companies will not do this but most do.
The transfer of the policy’s ownership rights of a Life Insurance policy from one person to another.
Backdating is making the effective date of a policy earlier than the application or issue date. Backdating is often used to save the age of a person to get lower premium. Some State laws often limit to six months but it varies by insurance carrier as well.
The person designated to receive the death benefit when the insured dies. The most important form in your policy. It trumps your Will. Proceeds are paid to whomever is named as beneficiary, no matter what your Will or estate plan might say.
Policies written for business purposes, such as corporate life insurance, key man insurance, buy-sell, business loan protection, etc.
An agreement among owners in a business which states the under certain conditions, i.e., disability or death, the person leaving the business or in case of death, his heirs are legally obligated to sell their interest to the remaining owners, and the remaining owners are legally obligated to buy at a price fixed in the Buy-Sell agreement. The funding vehicles are either disability or life insurance or both.
Children’s Term Insurance Rider:
Provides term insurance to the insured’s children. It is a flat premium for all his children and the benefit usually is not less than $1,000 or more than $10,000.
Assign all or part of a life insurance policy as security for a loan. If the insured dies the creditor would receive only the amount due on the loan.
This is the more exact terminology for what is often called a receipt. It provides that if premium accompanies an application, the coverage will be in force from the date of application, or medical examination, if any, whichever is later, provided the insurer would have issued the coverage at the rate applied on the basis of the facts revealed on the application, medical examination and other usual sources of underwriting information. This coverage usually has a limit until the policy is delivered and all delivery requirements are met. A life and health insurance policy without a conditional receipt is not effective or available until it is delivered to the insured and the premium is paid and all other conditions are met.
A provision in an insurance policy setting forth the conditions under which or the period of time (usually 2 years) during which the insurer may contest or void the policy. If you lied on your application, you have 2 years to hope the insurance company does not find out.
A person or persons named to receive policy benefits if the primary beneficiary is deceased at the time the benefits become payable.
Convertible to a permanent policy. A policy that may be changed to another form by contractual provision and without evidence of insurability. Most term policies are convertible into permanent insurance.
Insurance on a debtor in favor of a creditor to pay off the balance due on a loan in the event of the death of the debtor.
Cross Purchase (Buy-Sell):
A form of business life insurance in which each party purchases life insurance on each other.
Usually associated with Mortgage Insurance. A form of life insurance that provides a death benefit which declines throughout the term of the contract, reaching zero at the end of the term. Almost never sold any more because level term insurance is so much less expensive.
The actual placing of a life insurance policy in the hands of an insured.
A buy-sell agreement in which the company agrees to purchase the interest of a deceased or disabled partner.
Evidence of Insurability:
The medical and other information needed for the underwriting of an insurance policy.
The medical examination of an applicant for Life Insurance.
A physician, nurse, or para-med appointed by the medical director of a life insurance company to examine applicants.
The termination of a term life insurance policy at the end of its period of coverage.
The amount of insurance provided by the terms of an insurance contract, usually found on the face of the policy. In a life insurance policy, the death benefit.
A benefit, the dollar amount of which does not vary.
Free Look Period:
A period of time (usually 10, 20, or 30 days, depending on the state) during which a policyholder may examine a newly issued individual life insurance policy, and return it in exchange for a full refund of premium if not satisfied for any reason.
Acceptability to the insurer of an application for insurance.
You have an insurable interest in the life of the insured if upon the death of the insured you would suffer financial loss.
The person who is being insured. In life insurance, it is the person because of his or her death the insurance company would pay out a death benefit to a designated beneficiary.
Insurer: The company that pays out the death benefits if the insured dies.
Irrevocable Beneficiary: A beneficiary that cannot be changed without his or her consent.
Key Person (Key Man) Insurance:
Insurance on the life of a key employee whose death would cause the employer financial loss. The policy is owned and payable to the employer.
An Insurance policy which has been allowed to expire because of nonpayment of premiums. In a cash value life insurance policy such as Whole Life or Universal Life the policy could expire because the cash surrender value reached were insufficient to cover cost of insurance payments are being made to replenish it.
Level Term Insurance:
A type of term policy where the face value remains the same from the effective date until the expiration date, it would also mean a period of time the premiums would remain level. For example, the 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 & 30. However, after the level premium period most policies turn into Annual Renewable Term where the premiums increase annually.
The average number of years remaining for a person of a given age to live as shown on the mortality or annuity table used as a reference.
Medical Information Bureau (MIB):
A data service that stores coded information on the health histories of persons who have applied for insurance from subscribing companies in the past. Most Life insurers subscribe to this bureau to get more complete underwriting information.
The charge for the element of pure insurance protection in a life insurance policy.
The first factor considered in life insurance premium rates. Insurers have an idea of the probability that any person will die at any particular age; this is the information shown on a mortality table.
The number of deaths in a group of people, usually expressed as deaths per thousand.
A table showing the incidence of death at specified ages.
A life policy covering a mortgagor from which the benefits are intended to pay off the balance due on a mortgage upon the death of the insured.
This is a life insurance policy that does not require a physical exam such, as blood and urine samples. People who do not like needles or do not have the time for a traditional, lengthy insurance evaluation often find no exam policies very attractive. An application is still usually required but the issue process is simplified and usually quick approval – sometimes within 24 hours. Coverage amounts range from $10,000 up to $500,000.
Non medical (Non-Med):
A contract of life insurance underwritten on the basis of an insured’s statement of his health with no medical examination required.
Not Taken: Usually referred to by insurance agents when you put the insurance agent through the trouble of finding you a policy but decide not to take it. Really pisses an agent off.
A condition in an occupation that increases the peril of accident, sickness, or death. It usually will mean higher premiums.
All rights, benefits and privileges under life insurance policies are controlled by their owners. Policy owners may or may not be the insured but need to have an insurable interest in the life of the insured at the time of application. Ownership may be assigned or transferred by written request of current owner.
Permanent Life Insurance:
A term loosely applied to Life Insurance policy forms other than Group and Term, usually Cash Value Life Insurance, such as Whole Life Insurance or Universal Life.
There are two calculations to determine the premium for term insurance. The Policy Fee which is a flat fee added to each policy and the rate per thousand times the number of thousands of death benefit.
Preauthorized Check Transfer (EFT):
A premium-paying arrangement by which the policy owner authorizes the insurer to draft money from his or her bank account for the payments. This is usually done on a monthly basis.
Any risk considered to be better than the standard risk on which the premium rate was calculated. Some companies are now offering degrees of preferred to reduce the premium rates even more. An extremely healthy person can now get extraordinary low rates.
The price of insurance for a specified risk for a specified period of time.
The beneficiary named as first in line to receive proceeds or benefits from a policy when they become due.
Statements contained in an insurance policy which explain the benefits, conditions and other features of the insurance contract.
Coverage’s issued at a higher rate than standard because of some health condition, or impairment of the insured.
Term insurance that may be renewed for another term without evidence of insurability. Level term usually turns into renewable term with increasing premiums after the level premium period.
A new policy written to take the place of one currently in force. Many states frown upon this common practice of insurance agents unless it is in the best interests of the client.
The beneficiary in a life insurance policy in which the owner reserves the right to revoke or change the beneficiary. Most policies are written with a revocable beneficiary.
An attachment to a policy that modifies its conditions by expanding or restricting benefits or excluding certain conditions from coverage.
A risk that is on a par with those on which the rate has been based in the areas of health, physical condition, and lifestyle. An average risk, not subject to additional charge / rate or restrictions because of health. At one time the best class of risk was the standard class. As the insurers improved their underwriting skills, they were able to define those in very good health and offer them better rates with the new preferred class. Now some insurers have even developed different levels of preferred.
Stock Purchase Agreement:
A formal buy-sell agreement whereby each stockholder is bound by the agreement to purchase the shares of a deceased stockholder and the heirs are obligated to sell. This agreement is usually funded with life insurance.
Stock Redemption Agreement:
A formal buy-sell agreement whereby the corporation is bound by the agreement to purchase the shares of a deceased stockholder and the heirs are obliged to sell. This agreement is usually funded with life insurance.
It is the type of life insurance that provides protection for a specified period of time. It is temporary coverage throughout the agreed term or time period. Term has no cash value build up.
A technician trained in evaluating risks and determining rates and coverage. When an application is submitted to the insurer, it is the underwriter who gathers all the necessary information to determine whether a person is a preferred risk, a standard risk, or rated.
It is what the underwriter does to determine the class of risk an applicant will be placed in.
An interest sensitive life insurance policy that builds cash values. The premium payer has flexibility as to amount and frequency of premium payments. There are 4 components to this policy: The assumed interest rate, mortality charges, cash surrender value and the premium payment plan. The policy is interest rate sensitive, and if interest rates change from the current interest, it will effect the cash build up and death benefit.
If you have a Universal Life Policy, you should have it evaluated at least once a year to see if you need to increase premiums based on current interest rates. The owner of this type of policy should be aware that if the premium is not sufficient as mortality rates (as you get older) increase or if interest rates decrease, the policy could lapse. Universal Life policies are usually structured assuming current cost of insurance rates. The insurance companies reserve the right to change those rates.
Waiver of Premium:
An additional cost for a provision of a life insurance policy which continues the coverage without further premium payments if the insured becomes totally disabled.
Whole Life Insurance:
Life insurance that is kept in force for a person’s whole life as long as the scheduled premiums are maintained. All Whole Life policies build up cash values. Most Whole Life policies are guaranteed as long as the scheduled premiums are maintained. The variable in a whole life policy is the dividend which could vary depending on how well the insurance company is doing. If the company is doing well and the policies are not experiencing a higher mortality than projected, premiums are paid back to the policyholder in the form of dividends. Policyholders can use the cash from dividends in many ways. The three main uses are: It may be used to lower premiums, it may be used to purchase more insurance or it may be used to pay for term insurance.