Updated March 2, 2021|4 min read
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In most cases, it’s not recommended you buy life insurance for children. Life insurance primarily helps dependents cover the bills when a breadwinner dies. Assuming no one depends on them financially, your children don’t need coverage.
While it’s true that life insurance rates go up as you age, it’s unlikely that your child will get priced out of or denied a policy as an adult. Life insurance for children is usually whole life insurance, which is five to 15 times more expensive than term life insurance, and costly to maintain over your child’s lifetime.
There are rare situations when child life insurance makes sense, like if your child has an illness that would make it harder for them to buy a policy as an adult. Otherwise, alternatives are more cost-effective.
Life insurance is meant to be used as income replacement
Most policies for children are whole life insurance, which is rarely cost-effective
Child life insurance is worth considering if your child has a chronic illness that will worsen as they age
Alternative savings vehicles like a 529 will better prepare for your child's future
Life insurance for children works much like life insurance for adults: the policyholder pays premiums and the policy pays out to a beneficiary (in this case, a parent or guardian) if the insured passes away while the policy is active. Because most life insurance for kids is whole life, this coverage lasts their entire life.
Most child policies, like Gerber Life Insurance, which you’ve probably seen advertised, are marketed as financial tools that serve as an investment for educational expenses, lock in affordable premiums for your child, protect your child’s insurability, and cover funeral expenses if your child passes away.
However, unless your child has a serious medical condition, these policies:
Don’t offer competitive rates compared to term life insurance
Aren’t necessary to guarantee insurability for your child
Come with high administrative fees and low rates of return
May not accumulate enough cash value by the time you need the funds
You can provide better protection for your child by having your own life insurance policy that pays out to a guardian—minors can’t accept life insurance payouts—to support their needs should you pass away.
These cases are rare, but you may benefit from buying life insurance on your child if:
Your child has a health condition that will worsen as they age
Based on family medical history, your child may develop a serious health condition early in life
You or your loved ones rely on your child financially
If you need to insure your child’s life, it's simpler and cheaper to add a child rider to your term life insurance policy. A child rider provides a death benefit if any of your children pass away without the complex investing component, and can be converted to a permanent policy in the future if your child needs lifelong coverage.
A child rider is more affordable than a full child life insurance policy. It usually costs about $5 per year for every $1,000 worth of coverage. So, you might pay $50 more per year for a $10,000 child rider.
Ready to shop for life insurance?
The cost of child life insurance varies based on your child’s age, the size of the death benefit, and when the premiums will be fully paid (known as the paid-up age). The table below compares sample monthly premiums for a child life insurance policy, an adult whole life insurance policy, and an adult term life insurance policy.
|POLICY TYPE||AGE AT PURCHASE||MONTHLY PREMIUM||DEATH BENEFIT||TERM LENGTH|
|Child life insurance||Less than 1 year||$101.58||$250,000||Lifetime|
|Whole life insurance||35 years||$261.00||$250,000||Lifetime|
|Term life insurance||35 years||$26.37||$250,000||30 years|
Short answer: no. Permanent life insurance has a cash value component that grows over time. The cash value is why insurance companies pitch life insurance for kids as a savings vehicle for your child’s future.
But life insurance for children isn’t a smart investment. The cash value earns interest at a rate set by your provider, often with a guaranteed minimum. However, whole life has higher fees and less growth than you’d get from a standalone investment account.
Patrick Hanzel, Policygenius’ Advanced Planning Specialist and Certified Financial Planner explains, “A lot of life insurance agents sell child policies as a great ‘investment’ or perfect place to save money for education costs in the future. However, these policies should never be used as a primary source of college savings/funding. The policies take many years to accumulate value, and oftentimes won't even have broken even (when cash value available for loan is greater than total premiums paid) by the time the funds are needed."
Child life insurance policies are often sold as a great ‘investment’, but they shouldn't be used as a primary source of college savings.
Many parents purchase life insurance for their children because it sounds like a good way to guard against worst-case scenarios. The reasoning is that if you lock in premiums now, your child won’t need to buy a more expensive policy as an adult, and they’re protected in case they develop a medical condition.
In reality, you don’t need to protect your child’s insurability unless you have a family history of serious medical conditions that develop early in life. As for locking in premiums, most adults have no issue securing affordable life insurance in their 20s and 30s.
If you’re looking for a way to save for your child’s future college or nest egg, these alternatives to children's life insurance give you more bang for your buck:
529 plan: These plans are exclusively for higher education expenses and qualified withdrawals are tax-free.
IRA: If your child earns money, manage an IRA savings account for them and match their earnings to jump-start retirement savings.
Custodial account: Parents can save and invest in a custodial account to build savings for their child and hand the account off to them when they turn 18 or 21.
Ready to shop for life insurance?
A child life insurance policy mainly makes sense for children with health problems who might have difficulty qualifying for life insurance as adults. If you’re looking to save for your child’s future, a life insurance plan isn’t the best way to invest. To protect your children financially, it’s more important to have your own life insurance policy so that a trusted guardian can use the proceeds to provide for them if you pass away.
Most people don’t need life insurance for their kids. If your child may be ineligible for a policy as an adult for health reasons or if you rely on them for income, then you may consider a policy.
A $50,000 policy for a juvenile costs $30-50 per month, while a child rider for term life insurance might cost $20 per month for the same coverage amount. As coverage amount and age increase, so do premiums.
Child life insurance is not a good investment. The cash value of the policies grows at a lower rate and comes with higher administrative fees than a traditional investment account.
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