How Much Life Insurance Do I Need?
If you’re thinking that a death benefit of, say, five times your annual income is enough, it might be… as long as you don’t plan to be dead more than three to five years!
All kidding aside, if you come up short on this one, you don’t get a second chance. It’s critical to get this death benefit/face amount question right, up front.
Watch the video below (~3 min.) for help with how much life insurance you should buy, and then fill out the calculator below with your information to get a recommendation for your personal situation.
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: yearsThe 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.
Take a look at the chart below. Each year’s income is adjusted to keep pace with inflation. And notice in the final year there is just enough money left to provide the final year of income for your family.
Assuming a % inflation rate and % earnings, it will require to provide an annual indexed income of to your family for years.
|Year||Age||Initial balance||Income needed
(at % inflation)
|Funds remaining||Interest earned
This number is a reflection of what you plan on providing for your family over the next years and is the single most important number to consider when purchasing insurance. It’s also the number that is underestimated the most often. Why? Because most people fail to realize how much they contribute to their families financially and seldom do they consider what it would actually take to replace their income. And let’s be honest- replacing your income is really what life insurance is all about!
Any good news here? Life insurance rates have fallen dramatically over the past 20 years and the cost of coverage is actually 60% LOWER than it was in the mid 1990’s! So while you probably need a whole lot more coverage than you may have thought, the cost will likely be a lot less than you thought it would be.
Anyway, here’s how the numbers work:
You start with the policy’s full benefit amount of . In the first year, is taken out for the purpose of replacing your income for your family. The remaining is invested, and earns money at the rate you specified (%). In the first year, you’d earn in interest, which would put you at to start the second year. In that second year, you’d take out (due to inflation) for your family as income. You’d earn interest again, on the remaining amount- you can likely see the pattern developing already.
We feel an ethical obligation as experienced professionals to make you aware of the numbers. But of course, in the end, the decision regarding the face amount is a personal one and we will obviously respect whatever decision you come up with as it relates to how much coverage to buy!
You can find out about the other components you need to consider on our How Much Life Insurance Is Enough? page.
Questions? Feel free to call 800-442-9899 to speak with one of our experienced life insurance professionals.