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Intellectually, almost everyone understands the value of life insurance. A life insurance policy is a way to look out for loved ones in the event of your death.

But when is the right time – and the right way – to buy life insurance?

Three out of five Americans currently own some form of life insurance, according to a recent study by the insurance education group Life Happens.

The earlier you buy the better when looking at life insurance. Age and health history play a role in the premium so buying life insurance is less expensive at age 30 versus age 51 or 61. However, our needs also change throughout the years. The income we will make at 50 or 60 is much different than what we make at 30. Unfortunately, we don’t always buy it at 30 or buy enough to take us through the life changes we experience.

When a young person buys a home and takes on debt that is also a great time for them to buy a life insurance policy. When they have children they need to look at what life insurance they have and figure out if they need to add to more. The good news is they can keep the policy they have and simply get an additional policy to cover the life changes.

In our 40’s, 50’s and 60’s after a promotion or a big move is another time to review your life insurance needs. You have more to protect now so you may need to rethink what coverage you have. You may have kids getting ready for college, investment properties or a business to think about. All great things but what happens in the event of your premature death? What would your spouse and loved ones need to continue? Paying off the debt on the properties, having enough to pay for the kids college and enough money for the family to live on for a period of time are all things to consider.

There are “cash value” products with investment components that work as an additional tax-deferred savings vehicle for high-income earners. That’s because, like an IRA account, the money you contribute into the policy can grow tax-free via the investments you choose. And, with the right provider, you can invest with more flexibility and fewer restrictions than an IRA.

Cash-value policies are often more expensive because they offer coverage for an extended period of time but can be an effective way to grow your wealth and pass it on to future generations.

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