Life Insurance for Seniors: Tips on Getting the Best

  • Life Insurance

Life insurance is essential if you want to provide for your family after your death and don’t have substantial assets to leave them. It’s something that everyone should consider when they have dependents, but if you’re over the age of 60 those insurance premiums could cost more than you can afford and more than they’re worth.

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If you need seniors life insurance that doesn’t cost the earth and provides the benefits you need, keep these tips in mind.

Why is Seniors Life Insurance So Expensive?

Insurance is an industry built on statistics and probability. You’ve probably heard detractors refer to it as gambling, using this as a reason to refuse any form of life, travel or home insurance. To an extent, they’re right.

Just like a casino, an insurance company studies the numbers and tweaks the outcomes to ensure they always fall in their favor. A policy may award an individual $200,000 when they’ve only paid $20,000, but for every big loss there are many big gains, just as a jackpot win is offset by the countless players who walk away with nothing.

Insurance premiums are fixed based on a series of probabilities. Where life insurance is concerned, the underwriters will look at previous health conditions, genetic disorders, mental health history, drug/alcohol abuse and more, before determining how likely that individual is to cash-out the policy.

For instance, they know that smokers live 10 years less on average, and that heavy drinking and a sedentary lifestyle are two leading causes of preventable death. The average life expectancy in the US is around 78 to 79 years. If you’re purchasing a 30-year policy aged 40, and you’re a heavy smoker, recovering alcoholic who works as a writer, designer, or IT technician, and doesn’t exercise, you fall into all those demographics. 

There is a high probability that you will not make it to the end of the term, in which case you’re a high risk and may be charged higher premiums, offered a reduced term or denied a policy altogether.

As a senior, you’re high risk because you’re more likely to cash in the policy than someone aged 20, 30 or 40. As a result, many insurance companies may refuse to work with you while others will simply offer you expensive policies and limited terms. To get around this, you may need to work with specialist senior life insurance companies. 

Do you Need Seniors Life Insurance?

At the outset of this guide, we noted that life insurance was essential if you have dependents and no assets. That “if” is key here, because with those things, it becomes less of a concern. It would certainly benefit your family more to have a cash payout on your death, but there is no guarantee and without that guarantee you could be paying into a policy that never pays out, thus taking valuable money from your pocket and your estate.

Life insurance should be considered for seniors who:

  • Have a mortgage to repay
  • Don’t have sizeable cash reserves or assets
  • Are the main breadwinner
  • Have debts

That final point is important, because if you have lots of debt then it won’t matter if you have assets because the debt could take them away. As discussed in our guide to what happens to your money when you die, your debt will be passed onto your estate (and if you live in a Community Property Estate, it could be passed onto your spouse). 

Prioritization will be declared, and tax debt will be placed at the top of the pile, after which all unsecured creditors can collect their pound of flesh.

If your debts are greater than the value of your estate, you could lose everything, assuming those debts are not forgiven upon your demise (as is the case with most student loan debt). At that point, your family will have nothing.

In this scenario, life insurance is essential. It’s also important to assign beneficiaries, ensuring that the money goes to them and not to the estate.

If your mortgage hasn’t been repaid in full and is passed onto your estate, your heirs will either need to continue making those payments or repay in full (either in cash or by selling the house). If there are additional debts that do not exceed the sum of the estate, these will be repaid, and your heirs will get what’s left.

Therefore, when calculating whether you need seniors life insurance, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I live in a Community Property State? (includes Louisiana, California, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, Wisconsin, New Mexico, and Arizona).
  • Do I owe a lot on my mortgage?
  • Will my heirs struggle to pay for my funeral?
  • Are my debts greater than my assets?
  • Will I leave my heirs with substantial debts and obligations?

If your answers are negative, life insurance is an optional extra. It’s something that we recommend looking into, but not something you should commit to if you can’t find a suitable deal. 

If you answered yes to most of these questions and you don’t have an existing policy, it’s worth doing all you can to acquire life insurance or to find another means of supporting your family after you’re gone.

Options for Senior Life Insurance

Unlike whole life policies, which are designed to pay out substantial sums of money in the event the policyholder dies, senior’s life insurance is often designed to payout relatively small sums. 

There are typically two options for seniors seeking the protection of life insurance:

Funeral and Burial Insurance

Funerals are expensive and can cost upwards of $10,000 if you want a burial with a premium casket and all the trimmings. That’s a lot of money for your heirs to handle, but it’s something that funeral and burial insurance can cover.

Funeral and burial insurance can either be purchased through an agent or through an insurance company. In the first instance, you can make the funeral home your beneficiary, which allows you to arrange and plan your own funeral in advance, knowing that the costs will be covered and your loved ones won’t have to deal with the stress of planning and paying for a funeral while grieving.

In the second instance, everything is arranged through an insurance company and the money goes to your heirs. There is no prerequisite stating that this money must be used to pay for your funeral, but you can prepare instructions for when you pass.

Generally, these policies cost anywhere from $10 to $100 a month, depending on how much coverage you want. We recommend looking at some catalogs and discussing with funeral homes to discover how much your desired funeral will cost before applying for this insurance.

Term Life Insurance

Whole life insurance is rare for seniors due to the high risk involved. As the name suggests, whole life insurance is designed to be paid for the whole of your life, at the end of which there will be a payout. The alternative is known as term life insurance and is fixed over a specific period.

This way, there is a chance that you won’t die during the term, which means the insurance company doesn’t have to payout, reducing the risk and the costs and allowing them to offer you some favorable terms.

Term life insurance for seniors typically begins at age 60 (if you’re younger, you can apply for traditional term life insurance). Many insurance companies will stop providing these plans when you hit 75, at which point the liability is too high. 

You pay a fixed sum of money every month for a predefined term, often 10 or 20 years. The insurance company will then pay out an amount if you die during that term. As an example, a healthy 60-year-old applicant on a 10-year term can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $150 a month with a $250,000 payout. 

As soon as you include previous and existing health conditions into the mix, those premiums increase. You’ll also pay a lot more for a 20-year term as that will take you to 80 years old.

The Best Life Insurance Policies for Seniors

Here for a few options to consider for seniors life insurance. But don’t just take our word for it. Do some research of your own, get as many quotes as you can, and choose the best one only when you’re absolutely satisfied that you’re getting the best deal.

Haven Life

With Haven Life, you can begin your cover up to your 65th birthday. The application process is quick and simple and it’s one of the cheapest options around for seniors, with term policies costing between $50 and $100 a month on average. If you’re 59 or younger, you don’t even need a medical exam for your cover to be finalized.

Haven Life policies are underwritten by MassMutual, an insurer that has existed for over 160 years.

AIG Life

One of the biggest insurers in the United States is also one of the cheapest for seniors. You can get up to $25,000 without the need for a medical exam. This is offered to all applicants aged between 50 and 85, with payouts that begin at just $5,000.

Transamerica

Transamerica offers a final expense policy, which provides a cash sum to be used for funeral expenses and other costs. This ranges from $5,000 to $50,000 and there are multiple policy options aimed at applicants up to the age of 85.

Mutual of Omaha

Although the costs can be a little higher and the options fewer, Mutual of Omaha offers coverage up to $100,000 without the need for a medical. This is rare and will come as a welcome relief to countless applicants who don’t want the additional stress and worry of a medical exam. 

What’s more, Mutual of Omaha will release part of your benefit in the event of a terminal or chronic illness.

New York Life

Apply for a policy that lasts for between 5 and 20 years and get a death benefit paid to your family when you die. There are many policy options to add and remove and very respectable premiums and payouts.

Summary: When to Apply for Seniors Life Insurance

The sooner you apply, the greater your options will be. Whether you’re 29 or 59, if you need life insurance then now is a good time to apply. A single year can make a massive difference the older you get, potentially adding tens of dollars to your monthly premiums and reducing your chances of getting the payout you seek.

As soon as you have dependents, bills, and responsibilities, look into getting a whole life or extended-term life insurance.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com

How to Start Building Credit Once You Turn 18

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Good credit is crucial to unlocking many financial opportunities in life. When you have a great credit score, you can get lower interest rates on car loans, credit cards and mortgages. Some employers and landlords even check credit reports before they make a job offer or approve a resident application. While developing a solid credit history takes time, follow some of these tips on how to establish credit once you turn 18 to get started as soon as possible.

1. Understand the Basics of Credit

Make sure you understand the basics of how credit works. Your credit reports are maintained by three major credit bureaus—Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. It contains data on your current and past debts, payment history, residential history and other facts. This data is supplied by lenders, creditors and businesses where you have accounts.

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  • I need that peace of mind in my life. What else do you get with ExtraCredit?
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  • It’s settled; I’m getting ExtraCredit tonight. Totally unrelated, but any suggestions for my new fear of sharks? I watched that documentary too.
  • …we live in Oklahoma.

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The information contained in your credit report determines your credit score. Higher credit scores are more attractive to lenders and creditors. The factors that influence your score include:

As a new adult, some of these factors may not currently apply to you. However, they can all negatively or positively affect your score, depending on your behavior as a consumer. Educating yourself on credit now helps you avoid costly mistakes in the future.

2. Monitor Your Credit Report and Credit Score

Now that you understand the basics of building credit, you need to start monitoring your report and credit score. Monitoring your credit is one of the best ways to learn what will positively or negatively impact your scores. It also helps you catch inaccuracies or signs of identity theft sooner.

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You can check your credit report for free annually with each major credit bureau. As you review your report, look for any negative or inaccurate information that could be screwing up your credit. You can also check your credit score, updated every 14 days, for free at Credit.com.

If you’re really serious about understanding your credit reports and scores, sign up for ExtraCredit. With Track It, you can see 28 of your FICO scores and credit reports from all three credit bureaus.

3. Sign Up for ExtraCredit

ExtraCredit does more than just show you your credit scores. Have you recently started paying rent or utilities? BuildIt will add them as new tradelines with all three credit bureaus. That means you’ll get credit for bills you’re already paying—building your credit profile each month.

4. Become an Authorized User

If you have a friend or family member willing to add you as an authorized user on their credit card, you can piggyback off their credit card activity to help establish your credit. Even if you don’t use the card, the account can still land on your credit report and potentially positively impact your score.

This method poses some risks to the primary cardholder and you, the authorized user. If you or the primary cardholder rack up too much debt or miss payments, that activity could end up damaging the credit of both parties.

You should also verify that the credit card company in question reports card activity to the credit file of authorized users. If they don’t, your credit won’t see any benefit.

5. Get a Starter Credit Card

Credit cards are one of the best tools around for building credit, but you might have trouble qualifying for one when you have no credit history. Luckily, there are a few credit card options for young people with little or no credit.

Unsecured Credit Cards: If you don’t have the money to make a security deposit, consider an unsecured credit card such as the Avant Credit Card. This card offers a process that presents you with a credit line based on your creditworthiness before you apply. It also has no penalty or hidden fees—a perfect fit for any young adult’s starter card. You do need at least some fair credit history to be approved, though.

Avant Credit Card

Card Details
Intro Apr:

Ongoing Apr:
25.99% (variable)

Balance Transfer:

Annual Fee:

Credit Needed:

Snapshot of Card Features
  • No deposit required
  • No penalty APR
  • No hidden fees
  • Fast and easy application process
  • Help strengthen your credit history with responsible use
  • Disclosure: If you are charged interest, the charge will be no less than $1.00. Cash Advance Fee: The greater of $10 or 3% of the amount of the cash advance
  • Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC

Card Details +

Secured Credit Cards: A secured credit card requires an upfront security deposit to open. Your deposit will typically equal your initial credit limit. For example, a $500 security deposit would get you a $500 credit limit. These cards are easier to qualify for, and you can use them to make purchases, just like traditional credit cards, while also establishing some credit history.

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

Card Details
Intro Apr:

Ongoing Apr:
17.39% (variable)

Balance Transfer:

Annual Fee:

Credit Needed:
Fair-Poor-Bad-No Credit

Snapshot of Card Features
  • No credit check necessary to apply. OpenSky believes in giving an opportunity to everyone.
  • The refundable* deposit you provide becomes your credit line limit on your Visa card. Choose it yourself, from as low as $200.
  • Build credit quickly. OpenSky reports to all 3 major credit bureaus.
  • 99% of our customers who started without a credit score earned a credit score record with the credit bureaus in as little as 6 months.
  • We have a Facebook community of people just like you; there is a forum for shared experiences, and insights from others on our Facebook Fan page. (Search “OpenSky Card” in Facebook.)
  • OpenSky provides credit tips and a dedicated credit education page on our website to support you along the way.
  • *View our Cardholder Agreement located at the bottom of the application page for details of the card

Card Details +

6. Make Payments on Time

Making timely payments is the most important thing you can do to build credit, as payment history makes up 35% of your credit score. This applies to credit cards, loans, utilities such as cell phone services and any other account that requires a monthly payment. No matter the account type, a late or missed payment that lands on your credit report can do significant damage to your credit score.

7. Maintain a Low Credit Card Balance

Your credit utilization ratio, or the amount of available credit you have tied up in debt, is another major contributor to your credit score. Most experts recommend keeping your credit card balances below 30% of the available credit limit. Ideally, you should pay your balance off in full each month to avoid interest and keep your utilization low.

8. Get a Loan

Getting a loan just to build credit is generally not a good idea, as you shouldn’t take on debt only for the sake of your credit score. But if you have a valid reason, such as needing a car or money for college, a small loan in your name can help you build credit.

As with credit cards, loans only build a good credit history if you pay them on time every month. You also want to ensure your creditor reports payments to the credit bureau. If you also have a credit card, getting a loan can help improve your account mix, which makes up around 10% of your credit score.

9. Keep It Simple for Now

The more credit cards and loans you open, the higher your chances are of falling into debt. When you’re just starting out, you should probably play it safe and manage one basic credit card and/or small loan until you get the hang of things. Trying to manage too many debts at once could get you in over your head.

Over time, you can start to add other credit cards or loans to the mix, diversifying your credit profile and adding more opportunities to build credit. And because the age of your accounts affects your credit score, just keeping accounts open will help you build credit history in the long run. When you’re starting to figure out how to build your credit, do it slowly, carefully and with a constant eye on your statements and credit reports.

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Source: credit.com

What’s the Fastest Way to Boost My Credit?

October 29, 2018 &• min read by Jeanine Skowronski Comments 0 Comments

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Article originally published September 1st, 2016. Updated October 29th, 2018. 

It’s a common question around these parts: how do I fix my credit? And, while credit scores do have a lot of nuances, the answer is actually pretty straightforward: pay all your bills by their due dates, keep your debt levels low, add a mix of accounts as you can afford it and voila! — your credit score should rise steadily over time.

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Still, for people plagued with bad credit or someone looking to get the absolute best rates on a new loan, waiting it out can seem like an unattractive option — and so the question gets a little more pointed: how do I fix my credit fast?

Truth be told, there are no guarantees when it comes to getting a quick credit boost. Exact point increases will vary depending on your full credit profile and, even if you’re teetering toward top-tier credit, your score’s beholden to a lender’s schedule when it comes to reporting new information to the major credit bureaus.

Most creditors provide updates to the big three bureaus every month — meaning, yes, you can boost your credit in 30 days, but any shorter timeframe is admittedly a long shot.

Still, there are few steps you can take to try to raise your credit score in the short-term. Here’s a breakdown of ten of your best options.

Credit utilization ratio— how much debt you’re carrying vs. your total available credit — is a huge part of credit scores, second only to payment history. But while you can’t just erase a missed payment from your credit file (most negative information takes seven years to age off of your credit reports), you can pretty readily boost your utilization rate by wiping out big credit card debts.

Experts generally recommend keeping the amount of debt you owe collectively and on individual cards below at least 30% and ideally 10% of your credit limit(s).

So, if you’re close to maxing out one card and/or you’re carrying big balances on all of them, paying those debts down can result in a fast boost. Just be sure to pay charges off by your statement’s billing date as opposed to their actual due date because that’s when most creditors will update account information with the credit bureaus.

And, of course, refrain from making any new purchases once the debt’s been eradicated.

Essentially, a different solution to the same problem — you may be able to improve your utilization rate by getting an issuer to give you a higher limit on one of your existing cards. Just be sure not to use up that extra credit. Otherwise, this move can have the opposite effect.

And be prepared to see an initial ding to your score — creditors sometimes pull your credit when you ask for a limit increase, and that could generate a hard inquiry on your credit reports and cost you a few points.

You might easily make up those points and then some, however, if the credit limit increase is large enough.

Errors on credit reports are more common than you may think, so it’s important not to simply take a bad score at face value — particularly because getting an error removed can be one of the faster ways to fix your credit.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that the bureaus investigate and remove items deemed to be errors within 30 days of a dispute being filed.

That’s why it’s a good idea to pull your credit reports — you can do so for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com — and routinely review them for any inaccuracies that may be unduly weighing your credit down.

Once you receive a copy of your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus- Experian, Equifax, and Transunion, you can take a closer look at each item that is on there.

You have already read about getting an error removed, and this is a good step to take, but don’t stop there. Look for accounts you have on your credit profile that show late or missing payments and verify the accuracy of each item. If you see something that is wrong, send your dispute so that the problem can be investigated.

Yes, you may be paying your balances each month, and you are paying them on time, but you need to keep in mind that your creditors are reporting your balances to the credit bureaus only once per month.

If you have a credit card, for example, that you are constantly maxing out and reaching your limit on throughout the month, the statement you receive will show the balance. You make the payment, but since it was reported only once that month, it is basically showing that you are using 100% of the available balance on that credit card.

If you send in payments twice a month, however, you are essentially breaking up your payments, and you are effectively keeping your overall credit card balances much lower than if you continue to only pay once per month.

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If you want a nice boost to your credit and you want to help improve your credit utilization ratio, you can consider opening a new credit account. This is especially helpful if you find that your current credit utilization ratio is much too high.

Opening the new account adds to the available credit you have and will show that with the new balance, you are using less. However, this is not a good option if you are already juggling multiple accounts. You may end up hurting your credit instead of helping it if you try to stretch your credit too thin.

Have you taken a closer look at the current debt you owe? Have you considered negotiating the debt you have in collections to rebuild your credit? Many collection agencies will be willing to negotiate because they really won’t be losing any money on the debt if you are able to settle for less because they most likely bought the debt account for a minimal price.

It never hurts to open a negotiation to try and settle the debt you have for a smaller and more manageable amount on your credit accounts. If you find that you are unsure about this process, or if you don’t know if it is something you should do, you can always seek the help of a credit counselor to help educate you on the process and offer suggestions as to what you can do otherwise.

Another fast way to boost your credit could be to become an authorized user on someone else’s credit account. For this to be a viable and recommended option, you will need to find someone you trust, such as a close friend or relative, that is financially responsible and is willing to do this for you to help improve your credit rating.

As an authorized user on someone else’s account, their account will still show up on your credit report, and their payment history, credit utilization ratio, and credit card balances will become part of your credit history and may award you with a good credit score.  Not all credit card companies report authorized users however, so you will want to make sure that if you do become an authorized user, that the account information will show up on your credit reports.

In addition to paying on your accounts twice a month, you should also make sure to make your payments on time every month. Your payment history makes up approximately 35% of your FICO score.

If you find it hard to remember your due dates, consider placing your accounts on auto pay with reminders so it reminds you that the payment is coming due and it will then automatically make the payment for you.

Finally, make sure you are mixing up your credit choices instead of focusing on using just your credit cards, for example. Using different types of credit can boost your score fast – even though it wouldn’t be a significant boost.

If you need an appliance, instead of using your credit card, you should consider a small personal loan instead. It shows that you can effectively and responsibly utilize different types of credit.

One of the biggest hits to your credit is a bankruptcy and people are often anxious and ready to begin boosting their credit following their bankruptcy. In theory, someone looking for credit after a bankruptcy may actually appear to be less of a risk because they are not able to qualify for Chapter 7 for another eight years.

Following your bankruptcy, it is recommended that you make all your payments on time, learn how to manage your money efficiently, and find ways to reestablish your credit without trying to borrow money too soon and this could prove to be the fastest way to build credit.

You should also keep a very close eye on your credit reports and credit scores from the major credit bureaus and look for any errors or inaccuracies including any mistakes with your address, employment, or personal contact information.

The best way to start improving credit following a bankruptcy is to open a secured credit card account and make your first deposit into the account.

Although these ten strategies are a good start to finding the fastest way to boost your credit, you need to remember that it still may take several months for the credit reporting agencies to report the improvements on your credit report.

While they may be “fast” methods, they are certainly not miracle credit cures, so you need to have a fair amount of patience when it comes to seeing the positive effects on your credit report.

Be sure to dispute any errors you find with the credit bureau in question (you go here to learn how). You can also view two of your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com as you monitor your progress toward building better credit.