How much is Your Life Worth?
Calculating your life insurance value may sound depressing, but the good news is you’re likely to be worth much more than you thought. It also means knowing that the loved ones in your life will be secure, and can be a useful exercise to plan your pension or make changes in your life.
It will probably take you less time than it would to catalogue your DVD collection for home insurance, particularly with a range of online tools available to help. But even with a pen, paper and some rough figures you can get an idea of your value, which will help ensure you can choose the right life insurance policy at the right premium. Once calculated, expats will need to find a company that will insure them worldwide if planning to travel between countries.
How companies calculate life insurance:
Although the idea of life insurance can be traced back to Ancient Rome, until the 18th Century it was based purely on pooling money to be distributed on a share basis.
The first attempt at a life table to be able to predict mortality rates and risks was written by Edmund Halley in 1693. Halley became better known for his work in astronomy, which included computing the orbit of Halley’s Comet, but his work led to the development of actuarial science, which assesses risk.
It was in the mid-1700s that the first insurance company was established to allow for age-related premiums based on the mortality rate, and to employ an actuary as the chief official.
The modern insurance company will look at the occupation, earnings, assets and debts, funeral costs and other information before suggesting a figure for your policy.
Your premium will then be calculated based on your age, health and other risk factors. Although life tables will indicate a lower mortality rate for the relatively young, high risk occupations and hobbies will affect the price you pay. Also taken into account will be your location, health and lifestyle and family history to eventually settle on what should be a fair price for all involved.
Calculating your life worth:
The first step is to consider your income and check with your employer whether they will pay an amount (usually equivalent to four times your salary). Don’t ignore this step if you’re a stay-at-home parent, as you can calculate childcare costs instead.
This will give you a rough idea of what amount would be lost to your family if the worst happens. Generally for income replacement, a figure of 10 times your present salary would be a starting point. Depending on your circumstances such as the size of your family, you may want to increase this up to as much as 25 times your current wages.
You should also look at the debts which would continue to require payment after your death. This could include mortgage payments (if it is interest-only, remember the capital will also need repayment), credit cards, personal loans etc. Recent research showed 18% of UK people believe your debts die with you, this is not the case!
Then it’s time to look at the other outgoings, such as food, heating, petrol etc.
The final stage is to look at the other outgoings which may occur in the future, including education expenses such as school or university for children. And lastly the funeral costs, with the average burial costing around £3,168.
Probably not the most fun way to spend your time, but you should now have a figure for the income which would be lost, and the debts which would need covering. You can now make an educated decision as to how much you should insure yourself to give you and your loved ones peace of mind regarding the future. And unlike an insurance actuary, you won’t need to think about it again unless you choose to cash in your policy in the future.
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