If life insurance sounds like something you should have but can’t afford, you might be surprised. Term life insurance quotes for a hefty amount of coverage for young, healthy buyers is a few dollars a week — about the cost of a cappuccino.
Yet most people — especially young adults — overestimate the price.
Eight in 10 adults overestimate the cost of a 20-year, $250,000 term life insurance policy for a healthy, non-smoking 30-year-old. That’s according to the 2015 Insurance Barometer Study by industry group Life Happens and LIMRA, a life insurance industry research organization. The median estimate by consumers ages 25 and older was $400 a year, while the median estimate by adults younger than 25 was $600. The average estimates were twice as high. One in four respondents guessed that such a policy would cost at least $1,000 per year.
According to NerdWallet research, a 30-year-old, non-smoking man can buy a 20-year, $250,000 term life policy for as little as $157 a year. A 30-year-old nonsmoking woman can get the same coverage for as little as $139 a year.
Term life insurance pays your beneficiary in the event of your death. Coverage is cheap when you’re young and healthy for a couple of reasons.
First, term life is temporary. It pays a benefit only if you die within the term you choose — typically five to 30 years. Policies are usually inexpensive when you’re young because life insurers doubt you’ll die within the term.
Second, unlike permanent life insurance, such as whole life, term life has no investment component. You can’t withdraw or borrow money from the policy. Once your term expires, the coverage ends, and the policy has no value.
Term life insurance provides your family a financial safety net if you die. It’s the most inexpensive type of life insurance and is sold by all the best life insurance companies.
If you have friends or family members who depend on your income, then you probably need life insurance. It’s best to buy the coverage sooner rather than later. Rates go up every year as you age and develop health conditions, such as high blood pressure or unhealthy cholesterol levels.
Are you overestimating the cost of life insurance for yourself or your spouse? Find out with NerdWallet’s life insurance comparison tool.
Barbara Marquand is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. . Twitter: @barbaramarquand.