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1 Lesson 2 - The Basics of Life Insurance This lesson was created by the National Council on Economic Education specifically for the Virtual Economics CD-ROM and was made possible through funding from State Farm. OVERVIEW This lesson focuses on basic information that everyone should know and be able to apply when they purchase life insurance. This knowledge is especially important for recent high school graduates who ar8: 15 5:00e approached to buy life insurance. The main purpose of life insurance is to replace lost income if a family wage earner dies. First the students determine who needs life insurance most. Then they analyze the advantages and disadvantages of term life insurance and various types of cash-value life Insurance. This lesson uses a reading and an activity to help the students understand the primary reason why people should buy life insurance, who should buy life insurance, the variety of policies available and the criteria they should use to decide which life-insurance policy to purchase. CONCEPTS Beneficiary Cash-value life-insurance policy Endowment policy Face value Limited-payment policy Term-life insurance Whole-life policy CONTENT STANDARDS Economics 1. Productive resources are limited. Therefore, people cannot have all the goods and services they want; as a result, they must choose some things and give up others. 5. Voluntary exchange occurs only when all participating parties expect to gain. This is true for trade among individuals or organizations within a nation, and among individuals or organizations in different nations. Personal Finance Money Management 1. Explain how limited personal financial resources affect the choices people make. 6. Describe how insurance and other riskmanagement strategies protect against financial loss. OBJECTIVES The students will: 1. Identify the primary purpose of life insurance and situations when life insurance is important and not so important to have. 2. Explain the differences and similarities between term and cash-value policies. 3. Differentiate between whole-life, limitedpayment and endowment policies. NATIONAL COUNCIL ON ECONOMIC EDUCATION, NEW YORK, N.Y. 1

2 4. Evaluate the costs and benefits of various types of life insurance. TIME REQUIRED 90 minutes MATERIALS 1. Visuals 2.1 and One copy ofactivities 2.1, 2.2, 2.3 and 2.4 for each student. (NOTE: Visual 2.1 is the same as Activity 2.1, with the answers added.) PROCEDURE 1. Ask the class these questions: A. Do any of you have life insurance? If so, why? If you don't, do you think that you will ever need life insurance? Answers will vary. B. What is the primary purpose for buying life insurance? Answers will vary. You might want to list all the purposes on the board. C. What is a life-insurance policy? A promise between two parties - often between a company that provides insurance and the individual. The individual promises to pay premiums to the company in exchange {or the company paying a specific sum ofmoney to the designated person(s) when the insured individual dies. D. Why do companies sell life insurance? Are the insurance companies selling a good or a service? For many families, the premature death of a wage earner is a. substa,ntial financial loss. People want to transfer at least part ofthis loss to someone else. Consequently, there is demand for this service; insurance companies are willing to provide it and can make a profit doing so. 2. Tell the students that you want to find out what they already know about life insurance, so you are going to give them a pretest. Distribute Activity 2.1 to each stu- dent, and tell them they will have 10 minutes to complete it. After 10 minutes, show Visual 2.1 with the answers. Have the students quickly score their tests. Don't go over the results, but tell the students that they will take the test again at the end of this lesson to see how much they have learned. Collect the pretests and save them so the students can compare them with the post-tests. 3. Review the responses the students gave in Procedure 1B about the purposes of life insurance. Show Visual 2.2, and explain that life insurance is primarily for people who want to protect their families from loss of income caused by the death of a wage earner. Compare and contrast this with what the students said. Direct them to the definition of beneficiary, which is also on Visual Distribute Activity 2.2, and ask the students to rank the examples in order of their need for life insurance, with 1 being the greatest need and 6 the least. Go over the answers with the students. The correct order is 1 F; 2 D, 3 E, 4 C, 5 A, 6 B. A. Single person with no children 5: No one else depends on the income of the single person. Thus, there is little need to purchase lite insurance. B. Young child 6: No one depends on the income of the young child since the young child is not employed. C. Retired couple with self-supporting children 4: This doesn"t involve the need to support children or the loss of financial support from a w01-king spouse. What might well be involved, though, is the loss of retirement benefits if the benefits are eliminated or reduced when the husband or wife dies. D. Working spouse married to a nonworking spouse with children 2: The need for life insurance is great because the primary support for the {amily is the worhing spouse. This family is ranked second because the nonworking spouse probably could get a job if the primary NATIONAL COUNCIL ON ECONOMIC EDUCATION, NEW YORK, N.V. 2

3 breadwinner dies. E. Working spouse married to a nonworking spouse with no children 3: Again, the nonworl~ingspouse is left without the income of the working spollse ifhe or she dies. But this example is ranked No.3 because there are no children to support and the nonl.vorking spouse probably could get some kind ofjob, even though it might not pay as well as the working spouse's job. F. Single working parent with children 1: The parent is the sole source ofsupport. If he or she dies. there is no support foj' the children. 5. Summarize this activity by asking the class to respond to this statement: "Some experts in personal finance suggest that life insurance is not necessary for single people with no dependents and young people who are still in elementary or high school. Do you agree with this statement?" Most students will pj'obably agree because of what they learned in Activity 2.2. Indeed, some of the students may have a life-insurance policy that was purchased for them to cash in fm' college. Point out that people buy life insurance for many reasons, but the primary purpose of life insurance is to protect a family from income loss. 6. Explain that life-insurance companies have developed many different policies to meet people's needs. The two primary types are cash-value and term. Distribute Activity 2.3 and explain the similarities and differences between the two. Have the students read the activity and answer the questions at the end. Go over the answers with the students. A. What is the primary difference between term life insurance and cashvalue life insurance? Term insurance provides coverage only on the policyholder's lite, ujhile cash-value insurance provides this coverage plus a savings/investment feature. B. Why do premiums for a term policy increase as the insured person gets older? Rates on tenn policies are based on the probability ofdeath at each age level. The probability of the insured's death is greater as he OJ' she becomes 01de1; so the premiums increase. C. What is a decreasing-term policy, and why do people frequently purchase this type of insurance? The premium remains the same during the term of covej'age, but the face value paid out at death decreases each yeaj: People often buy these policies in con}unction with mortgages. If the insured person who is a primary income generator dies, the death benefit pays the mortgage. The face value of the policy decreases just as the mortgage decreases over time. D. Why do the premiums on many cashvalue policies stay the same as the policyholder grows older instead of increasing like premiums for a term policy? With a cash-value policy, the premium includes an amount that the insurance company invests. The company keeps part of the return to pay for the dsks and higher costs associated with older policyholders. This is how the company can equalize premiums. E. Give four examples of ways policyholders can use the money they receive from the savings portion of their cashvalue policy. The insured person can borrow up to the full amount of the cash value at a favorable interest rate. cancel the policy and receive the cash value, use the cash value to pay future premiums and receive the cash value paid out over a period ofyears. F. What happens when a policyholder with cash-value insurance dies after taking out a loan against the policy? Do the beneficiaries get the full face value of the policy? Explain. The insurance company subtracts the amount of the outstanding loan plus any interest owed from the face value of the policy and pays the remainder to the beneficiaries. i:l NATIONAL COUNCIL ON ECONOMIC EDUCATION, NEW YORK, NY 3

4 G. How is a whole-life policy different from a limited-payment policy? Both are cash-value policies, but the p1'emiums for the limited-payment policy are compressed into a limited number of years, such as 20 years. Policyholders pay the premiums for a whole-life policy over their entire life. Some wholelife policies do not require premiums after the individual reaches a milestone age, such as 85 or 90. H. A young family wants as much insurance protection as possible at the lowest price. Should they buy a term or cash-value policy? A term policy, because for the same amount of insurance coverage, the family pays less than with a cash-value policy 7. Tell the students that in addition to rates, a buyer must consider the financial strength of the insurance company because the buyer wants the company to be around when the claim must be paid. A.M. Best Company, Standard & Poor's and Moody's Investors Service publish financial-strength ratings of insurance companies. It is best to purchase insurance from a company with the highest possible rating. CLOSURE 8. Give each student a copy ofactivity 2.4. Tell them these are the same questions they answered on the pretest at the beginning of the lesson. Tell them they have 10 minutes to complete the post-test. At the end of 10 minutes, hand out the pretests so the students can compare their answers before and after the lesson. Go over the answers with the class. A. People should buy life insurance primarily to pay for their funerals. False. Individuals should buy insurance primarily to protect their families f,'om the loss of income because of the death of a primary wage earner or provider: B. Policyholders can take loans against some life-insurance policies. True. Cashvalue policies have a loan provision. c. If you stop making payments on a life-insurance policy, you cannot get any of your money back. False. Ifyou have paid enough years on a cash-value policy, the1'e generally is a cash value {l'om which the insurance company can give you a refund. D. Some life-insurance policies have a savings/investment feature. True. Cashvalue life-insurance policies have a savings/investment feature. E. The premiums for a limited-payment policy are less than the premiums for a whole-life policy with the same amount of coverage. False. P1'emiums are more for a limited-payment policy because they are made for only a limited number of years, not over the life of the insured. F. Some life-insurance policies allow the insured person to get the full amount of the policy before he or she dies. True. An endowment policy, which is a cash-value policy, has a provision that allows the insured to get the full amount of the policy after he or she pays a specific number ofpremiums. G. Most experts in personal finance say that almost everyone should have life insurance. Fa,lse. i\1ost experts believe that consumers should purchase life insurance to protect against loss of income to the family if the wage earner dies. Many experts UJould not recommend, for example, that a child have life insurance since he or she does not support others. The same can be said for a wage earner who is single and not supporting anyone else. H. Generally, the wage earner in a family with small children should have more life insurance than a wage earner without any children to support. True. The primary purpose of life insurance is to protect j'amilies from loss of income caused by the death of a wage earne1: In a lamily with small children, the insurance proceeds substitute for the lost income to support the family. I. A young working parent can get the most inexpensive life-insurance coverage io NATIONAL COUNCIL ON ECONOMIC EDUCATION, NEW YORK, N,Y, 4

5 with a term-life instead of a cash-value policy. True. Term life provides only insurance protection; a cash-value policy provides insurance protection plus an investing feature, so policyholders in the younger age brachets pay highe1' p1'emiums. J. A whole-life policy has a cash-surrender value, while a limited-payment policy carries no savings feature. False. Both are cash-value policies. K. When you shop for life insurance, you should consider only the cost or premium you will pay False. YlJU should also consider the financia.l stability of the insurance company. ASSESSMENT Multiple-Choice Questions 1. The primary purpose of life insurance is to A. protect a, family from lost wages. B. provide a safe savings/investment program. C. provide for the expenses that are related to death. D. protect a family from unemployment. 2. The kind of life-insurance policy that provides only insurance protection and no savings/investment plan is A. whole-life. B. term. C. endowment. D. cash-value. 3. Who is in the most need of having life insurance? A. Single working person with no dependents B. Student in high school who are saving for college C. Single parent with two elementary school children D. A family with two parents, one of whom is a wage earner, and two elementary school children Essay Questions 1. Why is the premium for a given amount of life-insurance protection higher for a whole-life policy than for a term policy? The primary reason is that part of the premium on a whole-life policy goes toward building up a cash value - one on which you can get a loan or a refund or which you can cash in ifyou decide that you don't want the policy anymore. The pr'emium for the term policy goes entirely toward insuring your life, without any cash-value component. 2. You have just graduated from high school and are planning to go to college in the fall You meet an insurance salesperson who says that you should buy at least $100,000 worth of insurance. She says it is a great way to save: You would have a nest egg in a few years from which you could borrow at a reasonable rate, which would be important when you have a family of your own. Also, in the event that you die in the next few years, your family would have a nice sum to pay all of your funeral expenses and have some money of their own. What would be your response to this sales presentation? There is no need for you to buy life insurance. The primary purpose oj'lij'e insurance is to protect a family against loss oj'income because oj'the death of a primary wage earner: In this case, you are not supporting anyone. Yes, there is a savings j'eature to the life insurance, but you can do as well OJ' better ifyou put the money into a savings/investment account for yourself. For most individuals starting college, money is tight; buying a cash-value life-insurance policy should be CJ, low-priority item. I:! NATIONAL COUNCIL ON ECONOMIC EDUCATION, NEW YORK, N,Y, 5

6 _---~~---- VISUAL 2.1 LIFE INSURANCE PRETEST THE BASICS OF LIFE INSURANCE - LESSON 2 Write T (true) or F (false) before each of these statements. F T F T F T.F T T A. People should buy life insurance primarily to pay for their funerals. B. Policyholders can take loans against some life-insurance policies. C. If you stop making payments on a life-insurance policy, you cannot get any of your money back. D. Some life-insurance policies have a savings/investment feature. E. The premiums for a limited-payment policy are less than the premiums for a whole-life policy with the same amount of coverage. F. Some life-insurance policies allow the insured person to get the full amount of the policy before he or she dies. G. Most experts in personal finance say that almost everyone should have life Insurance. H. Generally, the wage earner in a family with small children should have more life insurance than a wage earner without any children to support. I. A young working parent can get the most inexpensive life-insurance coverage with a term-life instead of a cash-value policy. [? J. A whole-life policy has a cash-surrender value, while a limited-payment policy carries no savings feature. F K. When you shop for life insurance, you should consider only the cost or premium you will pay. l:l NATIONAL COUNCIL ON ECONOMIC EDUCATION, NEW YORK, N.Y. 6

7 VISUAL 2.2 THE PRIMARY PURPOSE OF LIFE INSURANCE The primary purpose of life insurance is to protect families from loss of income caused by the death of a wage earner. The beneficiary is the person who receives the benefits from a life-insurance policy when the insured person dies. There can be more than one beneficiary of an insurance policy. A key to the amount of life insurance a person needs is the amount of additional money the survivors will need to maintain their quality of life if the insured person dies. io NATIONAL COUNCIL ON ECONOMIC EDUCATION, NEW YORK, N.Y. 7

8 ACTIVITY 2.1 LIFE INSURANCE PRETEST Write T (true) or F (false) before each of these statements. A. People should buy life insurance primarily to pay for their funerals. B. Policyholders can take loans against some life-insurance policies. C. If you stop making payments on a life-insurance policy, you cannot get any of your money back. D. Some life-insurance policies have a savings/investment feature. E. The premiums for a limited-payment policy are less than the premiums for a whole-life policy with the same amount of coverage. F. Some life-insurance policies allow the insured person to get the full amount of the policy before he or she dies. G. Most experts in personal finance say that almost everyone should have life Insurance. H. Generally, the wage earner in a family with small children should have more life insurance than a wage earner without any children to support. I. A young working parent can get the most inexpensive life-insurance coverage with a term-life instead of a cash-value policy. J. A whole-life policy has a cash-surrender value, while a limited-payment policy carries no savings feature. K. When you shop for life insurance, you should consider only the cost or premium you will pay. NATIONAL COUNCIL ON ECONOMIC EDUCATION, NEW YORK, N,y' 8

9 .._.._---~---_._._--_._ , THE BASICS OF LIFE INSURANCE - LESSON 2 ACTIVITY 2.2 WHO NEEDS LIFE INSURANCE MOST? The primary purpose of life insurance is to protect survivors who depend on the insured person for financial support. Unlike the beneficiaries of other types of insurance, the beneficiaries of life insurance - people who receive the benefits - aren't the insured person. His or her survivors are the beneficiaries. Given the primary purpose of life insurance, rank the following people or families in order of their need for life insurance, with 1 being the greatest need and 6 the least. A. Single person with no children B. Young child C. Retired couple with self-supporting children D. Working spouse married to a nonworking spouse with children E. Working spouse married to a nonworking spouse with no children F. Single working parent with children <0 NATIONAL COUNCIL ON ECONOMIC EDUCATION, NEW YORK, N.Y. 9

10 ACTIVITY 2.3 ANALYZING THE TWO BASIC TYPES OF LIFE INSURANCE There are two basic types of life insurance: term and cash-value. Read these definitions, and then answer the questions. Term Life Insurance Term life insurance is considered "pure protection." When you buy term life insurance, you are buying insurance only on your life; there is no savings feature as there is with a cash-value policy. If you die during the covered period, or term of the policy, the insurance company will pay your beneficiaries the face value of the policy. The face value is the amount of money the beneficiaries receive if the insured person dies. The annual premium increases as the insured person gets older. Premium rates are based on the probability of death at each age level and on the insurance company's cost of doing business. The major advantage of term insurance for younger families is the opportunity to secure a lot of protection against the loss of the primary wage earner for relatively little cost. As people grow older, there is a greater likelihood or probability of death, so the premiums become quite high. Many older people stop paying for their term insurance since they no longer need to protect survivors from income loss. One variation on term insurance is a level-term policy. Both the premium and the face value of the policy remain level in this type of policy. This is why it is called levelterm. The insured person pays the same premium throughout the term of coverage, say 20 years, and the amount the insurance company pays when the insured person dies remains constant. These policies have higher premiums for younger policyholders than traditional term policies, and the premium is less than the actual cost in the later years. The higher payments in the early years, together with the interest that is earned, serve to balance out the underpayment of the later years. Another variation is a decreasing-term policy. The premium remains the same during the term of coverage, as with level-term insurance, but the face value paid out at death decreases each year. People frequently purchase this type of policy to cover a mortgage in case one of the primary breadwinners in the family dies. The amount the insurance company pays out decreases over time, just as the mortgage debt decreases when homeowners make payments through the years. Some term insurance has a guaranteed-renewability feature. This means the insured person doesn't have to take a medical test or otherwise prove insurability to continue coverage when the term of the policy expires. This feature is important if you plan to keep the coverage for longer than the original term. I) NATIONAL COUNCIL ON ECONOMIC EDUCATION, NEW YORK, N.V. 10

11 ACTIVITY 2.3 (continued) ANALYZING THE TWO BASIC TYPES OF LIFE INSURANCE Cash-Value Life Insurance A cash-value policy offers protection plus a savings feature. As with term insurance, the insurance company pays the beneficiaries the face value of the policy if the insured person dies while the policy is in force. With most cash-value policies, the premiums are the same each year as long as the policy is in force, unlike premiums for most term policies, which increase with the age of the insured person. Because part of the premium goes toward the savings feature, the insurance company charges more for a cash-value policy than for a term policy with the same dollar coverage. The amount of savings available in cash, loans or withdrawals is called the cash value or cash-surrender value. There are many different kinds of cash-value policies. Only three will be described here. The most popular type is the whole-life policy. The insured person pays the same premium each year of his or her life (hence the term "whole life") or until he or she reaches some specified age, such as 85 or 90. As its name indicates, a limited-payment policy requires the insured to pay a level, or unchanging, premium for a limited number of years, such as 20. The policy is then paid up. For the same coverage, the premiums are generally higher for a limited-payment policy than for a whole-life policy because the number of premiums is less. Many athletes, models and entertainers like limited-payment plans because they can afford large premiums during their primary earning years, which for most are quite limited. An endowment life-insurance policy also has a limited number of level premium payments, such as 20. The primary difference between an endowment and a limited-payment policy is that the insured can receive the face value of the endowment policy after making the last payment. In other words, the cash value of the policy is equal to the face value of the policy after all premiums are paid. For limitedpayment policies, the cash value is less than the face value after all premiums are paid. When a policy has a cash value or cash-surrender value, the policyholder can do several things with the accumulated amount: Borrow up to the full amount of the cash value at a favorable interest rate. Cancel the policy, and receive the cash value. Use the cash value to pay future premiums. Receive the cash value paid out over a period of years. When the policyholder dies, the insurance company deducts from the face value of the policy anything it paid out to him or her, such as a loan. The company then pays the remainder to the beneficiaries. People who have trouble saving may like the investment feature of cash-value policies. Others believe they can do much better investing the difference in premiums between a term and cash-value policy in their own savings and investment plans. o NATIONAL COUNCIL ON ECONOMIC EDUCATION, NEW YORK, N.Y. 11

12 ~. ACTIVITY 2.3 (continued) ANALYZING THE TWO BASIC TYPES OF LIFE INSURANCE Questions A. What is the primary difference between term and cash-value life insurance? B. Why do premiums for a term policy increase as the insured person gets older? c. What is a decreasing-term policy, and why do people frequently purchase this type of insurance? D. Why do the premiums on many cash-value policies stay the same as the policyholder grows older instead of increasing like premiums for a term policy? E. Give four examples of ways policyholders can use the money they receive from the savings portion of their cash-value policy. F. What happens when a policyholder with cash-value insurance dies after taking out a loan against the policy? Do the beneficiaries get the full face value of the policy? Explain. G. How is a whole-life policy different from a limited-payment policy? H. A young family wants as much insurance protection as possible at the lowest price. Should they buy a term or cash-value policy? io NATIONAL COUNCIL ON ECONOMIC EDUCATION, NEW YORK, N,Y, 12

13 ACTIVITY 2.4 LIFE INSURANCE POST~TEST Write T (true) or F (false) before each of these statements. This test is the same as the pretest you took at the beginning of this lesson. A. People should buy life insurance primarily to pay for their funerals. B. Policyholders can take loans against some life-insurance policies. C. If you stop making payments on a life-insurance policy, you cannot get any of your money back. D. Some life-insurance policies have a savings/investment feature. E. The premiums for a limited-payment policy are less than the premiums for a whole-life policy with the same amount of coverage. F. Some life-insurance policies allow the insured person to get the full amount of the policy before he or she dies. G. Most experts in personal finance say that almost everyone should have life Insurance. H. Generally, the wage earner in a family with small children should have more life insurance than a wage earner without any children to support. I. A young working parent can get the most inexpensive life-insurance coverage with a term-life instead of a cash-value policy. J. A whole-life policy has a cash-surrender value, while a limited-payment policy carries no savings feature. K. When you shop for life insurance, you should consider only the cost or premium you will pay. Copyright National Council on Economic Education. All rights reserved. 13

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