For Consumers

What to consider before buying life insurance

Before you buy a policy, make sure you consider your financial situation and needs, and ask yourself:

  • What costs and hardships will my family deal with after I'm gone?
  • How will the loss of my salary affect my family?

You may have to answer health questions

  • Insurance companies can require you to answer health questions to buy life insurance.
  • Asking for your health information helps the insurance company determine the appropriate insurance policy to offer you. It also helps set a premium that adequately manages their risk and aligns with your health and life expectancy.
  • The insurance company needs to know the full details of your health, as honestly and accurately and to the best of your knowledge as possible. Few people are in 100% “perfect” health, so chances are you can still get good coverage even if you’ve had a few health problems.
  • Providing false health information could lead to the cancellation of your policy or no payment of benefits to your beneficiary.

Two types of life insurance to consider

Term life:

  • It provides you with coverage for a specific number of years.
  • It costs more as you get older.
  • It doesn't have a cash value so you can't cash it out.

Cash value life (whole life, universal life, variable life):

  • The insurer uses part of your premium to set up a financial account that earns interest.
  • It gives you actual dollars you can borrow or withdraw.
  • It costs more at the start of the policy.

What to do if you change your mind

When you get your new policy, read it carefully. Every new life insurance policy issued in Washington state comes with a 10-day free look period. This means if you're not satisfied with your policy, be sure to:

  • Return the new policy within 10 days after you receive it.
  • Mail it to the company's home office or give it back to the agent who sold it to you.
  • Get a dated receipt from the post office or insurance agent.

The company must return your premium within 30 days from the date you returned your policy or pay a penalty.