A Boomer Guide to Proper Insurance

The coverage you need changes with time. Here's what to look for in your 50s and 60s

by Chris Farrell • Next Avenue

Insurance is an invaluable safety net against all kinds of costly calamities. Although a careful review of your policies is hardly anyone’s definition of fun, it’s a smart move in your 50s and 60s, primarily because insurance needs shift over time — chances are you've got too much coverage in some areas and too little in others.

(MORE: Insurance Is Protection, Not an Investment)

“As people move through their lives, their financial risks change,” says Jonathan Guyton, a certified financial planner and principal at Cornerstone Wealth Advisors in Edina, Minn.

But before I detail the coverage every boomer should have, I want to share my four basic rules for buying insurance at any age:

  • Buy insurance only from companies that are financially stable. You can find financial-strength grades of insurers on the websites of the major rating agencies, including A.M. Best, Moody’s Investor Services and Standard & Poor’s. If possible, stick with insurers that have also been around for a long time.
  • Keep it simple. I’m wary of insurance policies laden with bells and whistles that make a policy more expensive and increase its complexity. Take life insurance, for example. I like plain-vanilla term life insurance because you get a death benefit — and nothing else. (It's also easy to do comparison shopping online.) At the other end of the complexity spectrum are variable universal life policies with mutual fund-like investments, flexible premium payments and death benefits you can raise or lower down the road. Eek.

Click here for Chris Farrell's other two rules on Next Avenue.

Next: How to Beat the Soaring Cost of Long-Term Care Insurance

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