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Life insurance for children

Costs that can be covered, alternatives and precautions to take.

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Your child is the light of your life. Protecting and caring for them is your first job these days, and that means making sure they have everything they need for the future. Likely as you’re preparing to purchase life insurance to ensure they’re set up in the event that you pass away, whether or not they’ll need a policy or you’ll need to add them through a rider has come up. We’ll explore why you might consider life insurance for your child, what’s available and what you should be wary of.

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Do I need life insurance for my child?

Whether or not you should get life insurance for your child will be dependent on many different factors. The decision is an extremely personal one and will vary for each family. Some of the reasons people choose to take out life insurance for their children include:

  • Future protection. As long as the premiums are paid, the child will likely retain the insurance until adulthood. This guarantees that they have some protection, even if something happens that results in their having a higher risk profile and would otherwise find it difficult to qualify.
  • Secures premiums for the future. Often times the rates for a child get locked in, or at the very least don’t change by a huge amount as they age. Again, this can be helpful if the child’s insurability is diminished by an event or health condition later on.
  • Potential savings. The insurance may be used as a form of forced savings that could later be used to pay for schooling or other future needs.
  • Burial expenses. In the event of the child’s death, the coverage would pay out benefits that could be used for end-of-life costs.
  • Income during bereavement. Should enough coverage be bought, there’s the possibility that the family could supplement income if they need to take time away from work during the grieving process.

Who can I cover with my policy?

Typically, policies will cover any children of a certain age range who are legally dependent on you, including:

  • Biological children
  • Adoptive children
  • Step children

How do I buy life insurance for my child?

Life insurance can be bought for your child either through a rider or as a separate policy. We’ll cover the difference between the two down below. Coverage amounts, premium costs, added benefits, the ability to convert the policy and the length of the coverage all factor into which insurer you might select. Make sure to compare your options to get an idea of what it might cost.

A rider vs. a children's policy

As mentioned above, there are two ways to buy insurance coverage for your child. The first is by getting a rider for a term policy that you’re purchasing for yourself. Term policies are active for a certain number of years and expire if you outlive them and don’t — or can’t — convert to a permanent policy. A rider is not an individual policy for your child, but is instead added coverage that you can buy on top of your policy that is meant for another member of your family.

The other option is to buy a permanent policy for your child. Permanent policies often cost more but guarantee coverage for your child’s entire life, so long as premiums are paid.

What are the benefits of life insurance for my child?

  • May cover multiple children. Depending on the insurance provider, you may be able to secure coverage for multiple children.
  • No medical exam. Your child will likely not be subject to any sort of medical exam.
  • Conversion to a permanent plan. Child mortality rates are low in the US — a young child’s odds of passing away within the next 20 years is a less than 1% — so it’s incredibly likely your child will outlive a rider you purchase. Some providers account for this and allow for the coverage to convert to a permanent plan once your term ends or the child reaches a certain age.
  • Savings opportunity. Similarly to the conversion, insurance providers may offer the ability to use the rider as a type of savings for college in the event that the plan is outlived.

What should I watch out for?

  • Cost. Rider costs may be steeper than you’re able to afford upfront. Be sure to investigate the full cost of your policy and the rider, or the permanent policy for your child.
  • Value. Often times the college-savings component doesn’t include any sort of interest. As such, it may not be the most effective savings tool.
  • Coverage amounts. You’ll likely only find small coverage amounts, usually up to $50,000. Your child may be able to purchase additional coverage after a certain age, but that is another factor that depends on the insurer.
  • Age restrictions. You may be faced with an age restriction for either yourself or your child. Check with any providers you’re comparing to confirm if the minimum age is being met and the maximum is not being exceeded.
  • Eligibility. Though there are often no medical exams, your child may still not qualify for coverage. It’s important to carefully read over any underwriting criteria and speak with the insurance provider to confirm your child’s eligibility.

How the cost of raising your children should factor into your life insurance policy coverage

What are alternatives to life insurance for my child?

Life insurance isn’t the only way to help your child financially or build a contingency fund. All three of these alternatives are likely to provide you with some amount of interest on your money:

  • 529 savings plan. A 529 plan is an account that allows you to save for your child’s education costs. The account is tax-advantaged and has an age limit, but funds can be used for qualifying education expenditures. Tuition, dorm costs and supplies are just a few costs that you may be able to use the funds for.
  • Private tuition plan. Similar to a 529, certain private institutions offer savings plans for education costs.
  • High-interest savings account. When you’re looking to save for more than just the cost of your child’s schooling, it may suit you to look into a high-interest savings account.

Bottom line

Buying life insurance for your child is a huge decision, and you likely won’t have an answer right off the bat. As with the rest of life insurance, there are many moving parts to consider before you make a decision. Take your time and compare providers and alternative options to figure out what fits your family’s needs best.

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