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Should I Buy Term Insurance and Invest the Difference?

By McKenzy Bowers | June 26, 2018

Winning the game of life insurance is easy when you’re clear on the facts. That includes choosing the coverage that most closely aligns with your financial plan.

This topic has earned more than just a couple minutes of your time – so sit back and learn. Seriously, Byron is crazy knowledgeable.

Prefer to read? Scroll down and read the transcript.

Ever since term insurance was invented, the advice to “Buy term and invest the difference” has been the mantra of many financial pundits, advisors, financial planners, stock brokers, and even certain insurance agents. First, I think it’s important to clearly define what we’re actually comparing.

Let’s start with Term. TERM life insurance, by definition, is temporary insurance. It’s typically sold as 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30 year level terms, meaning that, for instance, a 10-year term has ten years of level premiums, before the rate jumps dramatically in year 11 and goes up from there. 20-year terms have 20 years of level premiums, and so on. With level term, when the term period expires, the rate jumps so much (sometimes, to as much as 10-20 times the level premium you HAD been paying) that most people simply cancel their policy.

Now that begs the question: “What do you do at that point if you still need or want to maintain the coverage?” If your health is good, you may be able to buy another term policy, but if your health isn’t good, you may not. As we get older, we typically don’t get healthier. So there’s obviously no guarantee that a new term plan will even be available for you down the road when you reach the end of a level term plan’s level term.

Permanent life insurance, unlike term, is NOT temporary coverage. It’s designed to last a lifetime. It certainly costs more. The premiums are usually designed to remain level for your entire life, and if it’s done right, and you pay your premiums each year, it’ll remain in force until you die…assuring that your family will receive the death benefit!

Now, here’s the biggest secret of the life insurance industry. If you want to win the game of life insurance. Pay close attention to the following six words:


So assuming you die when you’re supposed to, around your life expectancy, in order to have your life insurance in force, you have to own a policy that cannot be canceled by the insurance company before you die, won’t EXPIRE before you die, and that has a predictable, affordable, level premium that can never be raised by the insurance company in order to force you out before you die.

So getting back to whether it makes sense to buy TERM and invest the difference…let’s do the math. The numbers will tell the story. For our comparison, let’s use two of the most popular product categories…20-year term and Guaranteed No-lapse Universal Life. Our example assumes a 45-year old male in excellent health, with a life expectancy of around 86, or 41 more years. The cost for a 20-year term life policy with a $500,000 death benefit is $600 a year. Universal Life with a lifetime guaranteed level premium, same death benefit costs $3,700 a year. If we invest that difference at say 4% after tax (which is equivalent to earning about a 6-7 percent pre-tax return. At the end of 20 years, the value of that side fund would be $96,000.

Then what? You’re now 65 and probably not independently wealthy. If you had the term insurance, and that side fund of $96,000, you might think well, let’s just get another 20-year term. To replace that $500,000 of coverage with a new 20-year term, would cost you about $14,000 annually. Of course, your $96,000 side fund would cover the cost of the first 7 years of that policy, but then you’re back to having to pay out of pocket…$14,000 a year. And even so, that policy will last exactly another 20 years, bringing you to age 85.

Now, let’s say you live to age 86, your coverage will have expired at age 85. And trust me, if you try to replace it at that age, you’ll be so shocked at the price you might have a stroke right then and there. Forget about it. You’re gonna die without life insurance. No one will get the $500,000. And you will have paid $600 a year for the first 20 years (that’s 12,000), plus $14,000 a year for the next 20 years…that’s $280,000 (for a total of $292,000) for 40 years of term insurance. So you end up collecting nothing.

Now on the other hand, on day one, if you had bought a Permanent Universal Life policy, with the guaranteed premium of just $3,700 a year (through age 85), you would have paid just $148,000 (plus another $3,700 for age 86), you’d be all in for $151,700. Then…you die. But your spouse, or children, or grandchildren collect $500,000…Income Tax-Free!

There’s no question that term insurance serves a valuable purpose and solves the problem temporarily…but not permanently. And there’s a good reason that term insurance policies are cheap. Statistically, only 1.5% of them actually end up paying a death benefit because they lapse or expire before you die.

Whoa great information! Now, check out our nifty calculator and get clear on the right amount of coverage for your life. Then call us!

Nifty Life Insurance Calculator

Our Life Insurance Calculator can help you get a rough idea of how much coverage you’ll need to make sure your family is okay financially when you die.

  • Annual income before tax: $

    Annual income is an important factor in determining your needs, but it’s not the only one. When you die, your life insurance is like your final paycheck.

  • % of income needed by dependents:  %

    Because you’ll be gone, presumably they won’t need as much as you’re currently earning.  Typically, 80% of your current income is a good place to start.

  • Your Age: years

    The younger you are, the more years of your income your family stands to lose when you die.

  • Number of years benefits are needed:  

    If you died tomorrow, how many years of income do you want to provide for your family?

  • Annual inflation rate (estimate):  %

    Because of inflation, in order to maintain your family’s current standard of living, you’ll need to plan for increases in their annual income to keep pace.  Historically, inflation has averaged between 2% and 4%.

  • Annual interest rate (estimate):  %

    This is an assumption as to how much you believe your spouse will be able to earn on the death benefit proceeds. We have found that most surviving spouses are usually very conservative in how they invest the death benefit. The most common thing we see is that the money gets deposited into a bank account. You know your spouse better than anyone. Pick a number that you feel your spouse will be able to comfortably earn on the proceeds.

  • Based on the information you provided, you need about

    of life insurance to replace your income for the next years.

So what’s next? Call us at 877-794-9817 and let’s chat about the types of coverage that may make the most sense for you.

We only work with highly rated insurance companies – brand names you trust. You may be able to save money without sacrificing quality and strength.