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5 common mistakes when buying term life insurance online

Get the best coverage for you and your loved ones by avoiding these frequent mistakes

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Let’s get something out of the way right up front: If you’re avoiding the chore of buying term life insurance because you expect it to be a major hassle, don’t. Times change and so has the experience of shopping for life insurance.

Thanks to this magical thing called the Internet (and real-time underwriting), the process of securing life insurance coverage is becoming less complicated and more convenient. But although it’s simpler than ever to check life insurance off your adulting to-do list, there are still a few critical steps you’ll need to watch for along the way. Use these five tips to help you get the right coverage for your situation and at the best value.

In this article:

What kind of policy are you really buying?

There’s a lot of types of life insurance out there, and not all insurers are invested in matching you with the absolute best policy for your situation. Rather than focusing on products that are easier to sell or provide more profit to the issuer, you want an insurer that works with you to choose products that align with what you actually need.

Get clear on what you need before you start browsing. Are you looking for an inexpensive way to protect your spouse and young kids for the next 10 to 30 years? Then you may want to consider medically underwritten term life insurance.

It’s a solid, affordable choice for many families looking for financial protection during the most years they need it most. (Like until the children are financially independent or your partner is near retirement.)

Additionally, if you’re in the market for term life insurance, make sure you are actually getting term life, not another type of insurance like an accidental death policy. This isn’t the same as term life.

Accidental death insurance, for example, will only pay a death benefit to your beneficiaries if you die because of an accident. This might seem reasonable, but keep in mind that, over time, you’re probably a lot more likely to die due to illness rather than an accident.

Sure, there are some situations where accidental death insurance might make sense. For example, if you wouldn’t qualify for medically underwritten coverage due to an illness, it might be your best option for having some kind of coverage to help financially protect your family. If you would qualify for medically underwritten coverage, though, accidental death insurance can leave you gambling on how you might die.

By comparison, term life insurance provides you with a policy that pays out to your beneficiary should you die in a particular time frame — usually 10, 15, 20 or 30 years – regardless of whether you died by accident or illness. The benefit doesn’t rely on the specific cause of your death.

Are you paying more than is necessary?

The cost of life insurance is often a determining factor in where (and even whether) someone gets life insurance.

If that sounds familiar, know that one of the easiest ways to pay more for coverage is to buy a 100% “no exam” policy. These might seem like a good idea because they remove the hassle of a physical. And they might be the right fit if you have a medical history that prevents you from qualifying for medically underwritten coverage.

However, skipping a medical exam could prove costly. It turns out most “no medical exam” policies carry higher life insurance premiums because they are typically guaranteed or simplified issue products. These types of policies ask less about your health history, and, as a result, cost more because the insurer knows less about you. While these policies may have a shorter approval process, they often come with higher monthly premiums and are often limited in amounts of coverage of up to $250,000, compared to $1 million+ with medically underwritten policies.

The no medical exam-required term life insurance offering from Haven Life, however, offers policies of up to $1 million. And thanks to Haven Life’s innovative underwriting process, it might be more affordable than you would expect. It’s called Haven Simple, and you can get a quote today.

That said, there are some companies and agencies (like Haven Life) that have leveraged modern technology to not need an exam in all cases. However, it’s very important to be honest when completing the life insurance application. The issuance of the policy or payment of benefits may depend upon the truthfulness of the answers given in the application.

If you are healthy and have an uncomplicated medical history, then you’ll usually get a better value with a medically underwritten term life insurance policy.

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Did you compare prices to locate the best rate?

Foregoing the medical exam or skipping medical underwriting aren’t the only ways to end up paying more for a policy. Just like anything else you buy online, you should make sure you shop around and get a collection of quotes before you make a decision.

An online price comparison site like Quotacy can help you quickly sort through some of your most affordable options. You can also search online to find lists of “average term life insurance prices,” as many sites offer free quote estimate tools. We have a free tool. For example, a 35-year-old woman in excellent health could buy a 20-year, $500,000 Haven Term policy issued by C. M. Life, a subsidiary of MassMutual, for roughly $17.50 per month.

Just keep in mind that these are estimates or averages and don’t reflect your actual rate. A number of factors influence the price of a life insurance policy once it is underwritten for you. That’s why with Haven Life, you can actually apply for your real life insurance rate, so you have a more personalized price versus a quote.

Is the process really online?

You’ve done your research, you’ve gotten a few quotes, and you found a policy that fits your needs.

…but you soon learn that these “online” companies require a phone number to start the application process. No thanks.

With a truly online-centric buying process, you should be able to actually apply online. In some cases, you’ll need to complete a medical exam to get your final rate, though, but that should be the extent of your offline communications. Unless, of course, you would like assistance from customer support.

One of the best ways to ensure you’re really getting a self-directed, digital buying experience is to read customer testimonials. By searching for customer reviews, you’ll know what kind of experience other people like you had.

Are you buying dependable coverage?

Know what’s arguably more important than customer testimonials? Company ratings.

When you buy life insurance online, you need to consider how dependable that coverage is. In other words, how likely is it that the insurer will be able to pay out on your policy should your beneficiaries need it? The insurer needs to be financially viable today and demonstrate a history of financial strength that helps you to feel confident that it will still be around 30 years from now (especially if you have a policy that stretches over several decades.)

There are a number of life insurance rating agencies that help consumers by offering an opinion of the life insurer’s strength and stability, including A.M. Best, Standard and Poor’s, and Fitch’s. S&P’s and Fitch’s both use a rating system with AAA, AA+, AA, AA- as its top four ratings. For example, Haven Life’s parent company MassMutual is rated A++ by A.M. Best (Superior; top category of 15) — that’s the highest mark you can get from that particular rating agency*.

You’ll want to start your comparison shopping by evaluating quotes on similar policies. But once you do that, consider the ratings for the issuer of the policies, too. Choose an insurer that earned high marks from more than one independent agency and offers you the best pricing on the policy you want.

With all that time saved, you can spend more of it with the ones you love

There’s no reason to put off buying term life insurance because you expect it to be a significant hassle. Now that comprehensive coverage can easily be purchased online (and on your time), the barrier to financial protection for your loved ones has been drastically reduced. Although, feel free to tell your family it was a “huge pain” if you think it’ll make you seem like more of a hero.

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About Brittney Burgett

Brittney Burgett is the marketing and communications director at Haven Life, a customer-centric life insurance agency backed and wholly owned by MassMutual. She joined the startup more than five years ago as one of the first ten employees and oversees external communications, content, SEO and various other growth marketing initiatives. Brittney is a passionate leader who believes that managing your financial life doesn't need to be intimidating or complicated and brings that philosophy to all the editorial and brand work at Haven Life. Prior to her role at Haven Life, Brittney worked in public relations, her client list included brands in the tech, food and nutrition spaces.

Read more by Brittney Burgett

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.

Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

Our disclosures

Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.

MassMutual is rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.

Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider, which is included as part of the Haven Term policy and offers access to additional services and benefits at no cost or at a discount. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made accessible under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners). For more information about Haven Life Plus, please visit: https://havenlife.com/plus

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