Mashing 8 myths about life insurance

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Life insurance provide precious peace of mind that your family and dependants will be looked after financially in the event of your death.

But for many of us, life insurance remains an awkward topic – we’re talking about death, after all, and that’s never easy.

That goes some of the way to explaining why a number of myths have grown up around the way life insurance works.

Here, we expose the most common ones so that you can make a better choice about which policy will provide the best protection for you and your loved ones.

Myth 1 - You’ll need to have a medical or release your medical records

It’s unlikely you’ll be asked to undertake a medical. An insurer will only request one if you’ve had severe health problems in the past and it wants to check how you are now.

Same with insurers wanting access to medical records. This only happens in a minority of cases, usually if the applicant has past or current health issues, or there is a history of, say, heart disease in the family.

Myth 2 - You’ll need annual health check-ups to maintain your policy

Actually, once you’ve got your policy, there’s no requirement for annual medical check-ups.

Myth 3 - You don’t need life cover if you’re not working

Wrong. You need to think about the financial impact your death could have on the family, even if you’re not a breadwinner.

For example, if you stay at home looking after the children while your partner works, you’ll need cover to fund childcare costs if you’re no longer around.

Myth 4 – Couples should always take out joint life policies

Not always. It depends on the circumstances. A joint life policy will almost always be cheaper than two separate policies, but the cover won’t be as extensive or as flexible.

Joint policies will only pay out once, so the first claim you make would result in the end of the policy. That would mean the second person would no longer be covered and would need to take out a new policy if they wanted to continue having life insurance.

They’d be older at that point, so their premiums on the new policy would be higher. Also, if the couple splits up, complications might arise.

But if separate policies are unaffordable, a joint policy is a valuable option.

Myth 5 - You’ll be credit-checked by the insurer

No you won’t. No credit check is required for an insurer to provide you with cover. If at any point you can no longer afford premiums then you simply stop paying them and the policy and cover will cease.

Myth 6 - If you have combined life and critical illness cover, the policy can pay out twice

In reality, this type of combined policy will only pay out once, at which point cover will cease.

For example, if you got cancer and claimed on the policy, it would pay out and the policy would end. If you subsequently die, there wouldn’t be a further payment.

Myth 7 - If you have term insurance, you’ll get a cash lump sum if you survive

If only that were the case. In real life, if you’ll pardon the phrase, you don’t get your premiums back if you don’t make a claim during the term of the policy.

Myth 8 – Life insurance pay-outs are always tax-free

No, they’re not, but they can be. They key is to have the policy ‘written in trust’. Your insurer or broker should sort that out for you – make sure they do.

Proceeds from a policy written in trust are not taxed. If the policy is NOT written in trust the pay-out will be added to the deceased person’s estate, which means it could be subject to inheritance tax, levied at 40%.

Writing the policy in trust is not only tax efficient, it will also speed up the payment process.

Please note: any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

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