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April 12th, 2010
05:30 PM ET

What you need to know about buying life insurance

CNN Money

1. All policies fall into one of two camps.

There are term policies, or pure insurance coverage. And there are the many variants of whole life, which combine an investment product with pure term insurance and build cash value.

2. Insurance is sold, not bought.

Agents sell the vast majority of life policies written in the U.S. because the life insurance industry has a vested interest in pushing high-commission (and high-profit) whole-life policies.

3. Whole life is expensive.

Policies with an investment component cost many times more than term policies. As a result, many people who buy whole life often can't afford an adequate face value, leaving themselves under-insured.

4. Whole-life policies are built on assumptions.

The returns quoted by the agent are simply guesses – not reality. And some companies keep these guesses of future returns on the high side to attract more buyers.

5. Keep your investing and insurance strictly separate.

There are better places to invest – and without the high commissions of whole-life policies.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Insurance
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