Life Insurance

Last Updated Feb 5, 2010 11:47 AM EST

What's the best kind of life insurance to buy?

by Jane Bryant Quinn

Term insurance is pure protection, like fire insurance or auto insurance. Its sole function is to support your family if you die. You can buy large amounts of coverage for modest amounts of money — and big policies are what your spouse and children need. Most breadwinners are seriously underinsured, partly because they're wasting their limited budget on cash-value coverage. Only with term will you be able to protect your family well.

Most term policies last for a certain number of years at a fixed price. Then the protection ends. If you still need coverage, you can re-up for another term at a higher price. At late ages, you usually don't need life insurance anymore, so you can let the policy run out. If you do need protection, you can convert your term policy into no-lapse coverage at a reasonable price. Conversion rights usually end at age 65, 70, or 75, depending on the policy.

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Excerpted from Making the Most of Your Money Now by Jane Bryant Quinn

Copyright 1991, 1997, 2009, by Berrybrook Publishing, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc

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