Assessing Your Life Insurance Needs


Disclosure: This article is sponsored by Navy Mutual.

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Changes in your life affect your life insurance needs going forward. Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) might be more than sufficient when you’re young and single. But as you start your family and take on new obligations, your needs change.

So, how can you choose the insurance that meets your current needs and figure out when it is time to make a change?

When to Reassess Your Life Insurance Needs

First, let’s take a look at when it might be time to update your coverage.

In general, it is a good idea to review your needs and coverage at least annually. This ensures that any life events (children, home purchase, or new financial obligation) are accounted for in your future coverage. Developing a habit of annually reviewing the “terms” of your home, auto, life, and disability insurance coverage can prevent leaving anything to chance.

Set aside some time specifically to evaluate how your life insurance needs have changed after any major life events.

Growing Family, Growing Needs

The most important events to account for are marriage and parenthood. There is nothing more meaningful than growing your family. As painful as it is to think about, it is important to make sure that your family will be taken care of if anything were to happen to you or your spouse. That means purchasing an amount of life insurance that not only matches your family’s minimum needs today, but considers the loss of income, the loss of future income, or providing for childcare. Each new family member will add needs that will have to be met by your life insurance policy.

That said, a growing family is not the only reason to reevaluate your life insurance coverage. Other life events that merit examining your coverage include buying a house, transitioning out of the military, and retiring. For example, term life insurance may have been the right choice to supplement SGLI while you were deploying, but you may want to transition to a permanent life insurance policy as a long term estate planning solution when you leave the military.

Determining Your Needs as Your Family Grows

There are many ways to determine your current life insurance needs. Some of the most popular methods include:

  • Income Multiple: rough calculation to offset some number of years of future economic benefit, such as multiplying your current salary by ten
  • Human Life Value: the present value of the insured’s after-tax future expected income
  • Needs Approach: offsetting current or planned debts the beneficiary could not or would not be able to handle on their own – typically this involves a mortgage balance, present value of future education expenses for children, 1 or more new auto purchases, and a lump sum for the survivor’s ancillary expenses

At Navy Mutual, we find that the Needs Approach is the most helpful for our Members. It allows you to choose the coverage that will protect the ones you love without paying for coverage that they do not need.

The basic calculation to determine the right amount of coverage through the Needs Approach is as follows:

Financial Obligations – Non-Retirement Assets = Necessary Coverage

First, add up all outstanding financial obligations including mortgage payments, tuition for your children, and living expenses for your family. Next, subtract the value of your assets, include only assets that will be available for liquidation should you pass. The resulting number is the amount of money that would take care of your family’s needs if anything happened to you.

The all-encompassing Needs Approach may seem complex, but Navy Mutual’s free and easy-to-use Basic Life Insurance Needs Calculator will painlessly guide you through the process. Once you have determined your preferred needs assessment method, our team of experienced sales representatives will help you tailor the policy design that is right for you; schedule an appointment today.


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