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The pros and cons of renewable term life insurance

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When determining the best life insurance for your needs, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of any type of life insurance you are considering. Each will have advantages and disadvantages that will impact your family’s current and future finances, and it’s important to consider your coverage options from every angle.

In shopping for life insurance, you might have come across something called renewable term life insurance. Unlike traditional term life insurance, in which you commit to a multi-year coverage term, renewable term life insurance typically features a shorter term — sometimes as little as one year — and you also have the option to renew your policy for the same amount of coverage at the end of every term, without applying for a new policy.

Suffice it to say there are pros and cons to this type of coverage, especially when compared to traditional term life insurance. Below, we break down what those pros and cons are, to help you determine if this type of life insurance will provide the best financial protection for your family.

What is renewable term life insurance?

Like all term life insurance, renewable is a type of term life insurance that provides coverage for a specified period based on the policy’s term. Unlike other forms of term life insurance, it comes with a renewable term clause that guarantees you can renew the policy for an additional term if you so choose, without needing to reapply or undergo a medical exam. The coverage term can be as little as a year or as long as 30 years, depending on the insurer and the policy.

Because renewable term life insurance is for a specific period of time, initial premiums are typically cheaper than those for whole life insurance policies. (A form of permanent life insurance, this type of insurance is designed to last your whole life.)

However, your renewable term premiums will increase with each renewal based on your age, sex, health, and other factors and can ultimately cost more than a permanent policy, depending on how many times you renew and how much your premiums increase.

The pros

There are a few potential advantages to renewable term life insurance:

You can get extended coverage without additional medical exams

A medical exam is typically needed to determine your eligibility for life insurance, and how much you’ll pay in monthly premiums. However, with renewable term policy, you can renew it without a medical exam, though you may need to complete a medical questionnaire for some insurers.

Flexible term lengths

Another advantage is the flexibility this type of policy provides, especially if you are interested in a shorter term than, say, the minimum 10-year policy offered by Haven Life.

Who would want a shorter term? Maybe you’re young and unsure what the future brings. You want coverage, but aren’t sure what your situation will be in a few years — maybe you’ll have kids and a mortgage, maybe you’ll be a digital nomad trotting the globe. (Hey, could happen.)

You might also be between jobs, and looking to replace the group life insurance you received from your previous employer. (Just know that, for many people, group life insurance is not enough.)

A renewable policy is ideal for such short-term scenarios.

The cons

With insurance commitments, as in other commitments (work, romance), sometimes a short-term, no-strings-attached fling is great. Sometimes, though… it’s not. Here are some disadvantages to renewable life insurance:

It can cost more

The biggest drawback to renewable term life insurance is that your premiums can change every time you renew. Going year-to-year provides added flexibility, sure, but when you renew your term, you’ll be older (definitely) and potentially in worse health, which is why your premiums increase.

With a term life insurance policy that has longer terms, such a 10, 20 or 30 years, your premiums stay fixed throughout the term. They’re known as level premiums.

So if you’re at a lifestage where you just got a new 15-year mortgage, or just got married and had kids, and you know you’ll want the financial protection of life insurance over the long haul, getting a 15, 20 or even 30-year term makes more sense because you’ll pay the same rate — likely a lower rate — over the entirety of your term.

Life happens

At the end of the day, renewable life insurance might seem more flexible — it’s low-commitment, after all — but it may end up being more expensive overall.

Again, you can think of life insurance as a sort of relationship. Get it when you’re young and healthy, and you can buy life insurance at a lower rate than you’ll pay later in life. This means you can get enough coverage to provide for your loved ones — many people get 5 to 10 times their annual salary — as your family grows and your needs evolve.

Maybe you move into a new house. Maybe you decide to have another kid. Rather than constantly adjusting your policy over the years, getting an adequate amount of coverage from the get-go for multiple years can be a cost-effective way to ensure that even if things change, there’s a safety net there in the form of long-term life insurance.

It can be a hassle

We’re all busy people. Do you really want to have to evaluate whether your newer, likely higher premiums, are a good value?

Getting term life insurance is often a one-time thing. Get it, then go about taking care of the many other things clamoring for your time and energy every day.

An alternative to renewable term life insurance

While renewable term life insurance might make sense for some people, Haven Life doesn’t offer it.

Instead, you can get term life insurance policy terms of 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years — long-lasting coverage you can count on in the years and decades ahead, whether you’re starting a family, buying a home, or making other long-term financial commitments that will need to be taken care of in the event that you’re not around to handle them.

Find out how much coverage you might need with our free online life insurance calculator, then find out how much you might pay with our free online quote tool. You’ll be glad you did.


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