If you are one of the millions of adults who have never bought life insurance, online or in person, there are newer, smarter ways to approach the task. For starters, consider that buying online is now the most prevalent way to obtain a policy of any kind, whether it’s life, auto, health, business or home insurance you’re shopping for. Second, it’s now easier than ever to find out minute details about sellers, contract specifics, types of products and more. Plus, consumer review websites offer a wealth of information from real life buyers of certain products who are happy to tell you what they think about their experience.
If you intend to buy life insurance online, consider the following seven tips. They’ll help you get the best deal possible for your particular needs. Whether you have diabetes, smoke, are already past middle age or have been turned down in the past, you can find some good deals online if you know where, and how, to search for them.
1. Check Out the Carriers
People tend to focus on price, no matter what the consumer product or service. But as anyone can attest after buying a car, hiring an accountant, or paying for a cruise, the lowest priced option is not always the smartest buy. The same thing applies to insurance products and services. That’s why it’s vitally important to research the companies you’re thinking about buying from.
If you look at the industry in a particular country or globally, it’s pretty clear that there are about 20 or 30 top quality companies. If you purchase from an organization that is not in that top tier of sellers, you’re taking a big risk. Always research the carriers before buying anything from them, even if it’s only a short-term policy that costs a few dollars per month. Fortunately, there are many informative websites that provide in-depth reviews of the industry’s top carriers. Read as much as you can from several different sources in order to obtain a feel for who the high-quality sellers are.
2. Compare Prices
Price isn’t everything, but it’s something. When you research prices for specific products, you’ll often find that, unlike in the auto industry, insurance policies from top carriers don’t differ that much. There are usually a few outliers for any given niche you’re looking at, but for the most part, premiums tend to group around a common number. That’s because the best carriers use similar statistical analysis algorithms to configure their price structures. So, don’t worry too much about slight differences in price. Look more at the average prices for the kinds of coverage you are shopping for.
3. Read Plenty of Reviews
It’s possible to fall down the rabbit hole of research. Avoid that pitfall by limiting your review reading to one or two hours. Try to find three or four good review sites out of the dozens you’ll stumble upon. Read reviews of products and companies that interest you, and remember to take notes. There’s a lot of information out there and brief notes will help you keep everything straight in your head.
4. Pick Up the Phone
After coming up with a short list of companies you’re considering, test out their customer service function by calling them. Ask a few generic questions, or pull a specific query from your list. Make notes about how quickly the call was answered, whether a human ever got on the line, how the automated system handled your initial query, and how well the human answered your questions. Remember, you’ll likely be making many calls to a company after buying from them, so customer service is a key part of your decision process. It’s also smart to make a follow-up call a few days later just to be fair to the carriers. You don’t want to judge the entire customer service experience based on a single phone call.
5. Get Details About Viatical Settlements
Adults who face the prospect of a terminal illness can sell their life insurance policies for an amount greater than the cash value but less than the death benefit. Why would someone want to do this? There are several reasons, including the need for a lump sum of cash to cover medical expenses. When you shop for a policy online, be certain to find out if the carrier offers viatical settlements and what the requirements are for being able to sell your policy should the need arise.
States have their own laws about viatical contracts, so read the fine print on any material you find on company websites or in sample contracts. To be sure, contact the companies directly like Mason Finance and ask how they deal with policyholders who face life threatening conditions. It’s important to note that not all carriers offer this kind of arrangement, so be specific when you ask questions about viatical settlements.
6. Make a Short List
Toward the end of your research phase, make a short list of carriers you’d like to have more information about and want to contact directly. Aim to have no more than three or four company names on your short list and do your best to find local agents, in your town, who work for those companies. Put their phone numbers and names on the list. Also, include specific questions you intend to ask the individuals about products that their companies sell. Remember to take notes when you speak with the agents and note the answers they give and their overall level of helpfulness. You’ll be dealing with these people if you end up buying from them, so make sure you feel comfortable speaking with them.
7. Research the Various Products
If you’re not well versed with insurance products, spend a few hours online studying the industry. This doesn’t have to be an academic endeavor but should involve some serious reading of key terminology for consumers. Fortunately, there are many excellent industry glossaries online that you can read in under a half-hour. After that, read a half dozen or so articles about the types of policies and what the most important features of the good policy are.