During our working lives, we protect ourselves and our families and businesses against premature death, serious illness and injury. We carry life insurance and disability insurance and, while we may be covered by our group benefits plan at work, that usually stops at retirement so that most of us carry our own life and disability insurance. Now that a lifestyle change is pending, and we transition into retirement, how appropriate are these policies?
A lot of us will spend many years in ‘retirement’. The challenge, is to ensure that we have properly prepared for our leisure years.
Certainly your life insurance must continue. The proceeds from you policy will pay final expenses, outstanding and capital gains taxes and charitable bequests, not to mention preserving your estate for your heirs.
At this stage of life, you will want coverage for the rest of your lifetime. There are different types of life insurance that you can choose from. You can purchase guaranteed a term to 100, whole life or universal life insurance. Determining which plan is right for you will depend on your circumstances, goals and needs.
Disability insurance (DI), on the other hand, is another story. Almost all individual disability policies expire at age 65. In fact, benefits will only be paid to age 65. Very few policies will extend the benefit payments to age 70, and you must be working in order to extend the benefits period and to make a claim. So if you’re in your late 50s or early 60s, does it make sense to keep your DI policy if you will only receive a monthly income for a few years? In some cases, it doesn’t. But what are your options and alternatives?
First of all, if any medical problems or conditions have made you uninsurable, don’t cancel your policies. Keep the coverage in force for as long as you can because you won’t be able to purchase any other policies.
The money you are currently spending on your disability coverage can be used to pay the premiums for your new policies. You may have to pay some additional premiums depending on what you purchase and how much. Talk to your financial advisor to determine what is right for you. And remember, don’t cancel any coverage until you have received some professional advice.
If you qualify for new insurance, you have options that may make more sense for retirement. Many pre-retirees and young retirees are re-allocating their DI premium dollars to a new long-term care policy and in some cases, a critical illness policy. Many people purchase a combination of both.
The long- term care policy is purchased to provide a monthly income (based on a benefit of between $10 and $300 per diem, depending on the amount purchased) when you require either home health care or residence care. To qualify for the benefit, you must be unable to perform 2 of 6 daily activities, which include: bathing, eating, dressing, toileting, continence and transferring. Or you must be cognitively impaired. You can purchase different benefit periods, much like your DI policy – 2 years, 5 years or a lifetime, and proceeds are tax free.
A critical illness policy will pay you a tax-free lump sum upon the diagnosis and survival (usually 30 days) of a serious or life-threatening illness, such as heart attack, stroke, Parkinson’s disease and life threatening cancer. Most policies cover up to 22 illnesses and conditions.
By purchasing a combination of these policies, you are protecting yourself should you suffer a serious illness or become cognitively impaired. You will have prepared yourself financially for the heavy burden of illness. You and your family will be able to protect your savings and assets since, you will receive a lump sum from the insurance company to use for medical expenses, home renovations, bills, medical equipment or whatever your choose. And with your long-term care insurance, you will receive a tax-free monthly income to cover your ongoing expenses.
Lifestyle changes require financial planning changes. This also holds true with insurance planning. Be certain that you have the right coverage for your specific circumstances. The choices you make today will impact the choices you have tomorrow.