After you have decided which kind of life insurance is best for you, compare similar policies from different companies to find which one is likely to give you the best value for your money. A simple comparison of the premiums is not enough. There are other things to consider. For example:
- Do premiums or benefits vary from year to year?
- How much do the benefits build up in the policy?
- What part of the premiums or benefits is not guaranteed?
- What is the effect of interest on money paid and received at different times on the policy?
Once you have decided which type of policy to buy, you can use a cost comparison index to help you compare similar policies. Life insurance agents or companies can give you information about several different kinds of indexes that each work a little differently. One type helps you compare the costs between two policies if you give up the policy and take out the cash value. Another helps you compare costs between two policies if you give up the policy and take out the cash value. Another helps you compare your costs if you don't give up your policy before its coverage ends. Some help you decide what kind of questions to ask the agent about the numbers used in an illustration. Each index is useful in some ways, but they all have shortcomings. Ask your agent which will be most helpful to you. Regardless of which index you use, compare index numbers only for similar policies - those that offer basically the same benefits, with premiums payable for the same length of time.
Remember that no one company offers the lowest cost at all ages for all kinds and amounts of insurance. You should also consider other factors:
- How quickly does the cash value grow? Some policies have low cash values in the early years that build quickly later on. Other policies have a more level cash value build-up. A year-by-year display of values and benefits can be very helpful. (The agent or company will give you a policy summary or an illustration that will show benefits and premiums for selected years.)
- Are there special policy features that particularly suit your needs?
- How are non-guaranteed values calculated? For example, interest rates are important in determining policy returns. In some companies increases reflect the average interest earnings on all of that company's policies regardless of when issued. In others, the return for policies issued in a recent >year, or a group of years, reflects the interest earnings on that group of policies; in this case, amounts paid are likely to change more rapidly when interest rates change.