Do I need life insurance?

There are many reasons to get life insurance, but a simple rule of thumb is if you have shared debts or anyone relies on your income for their financial well-being, you should consider getting life insurance coverage. And every person’s life insurance needs are different and depend on many factors, such as how many dependents you have, how much you expect to earn, and even your gender.

How does life insurance work?

Life insurance can help protect your loved ones financially by providing a death benefit (usually a tax-free payment) to your beneficiaries if you pass away. Permanent life insurance can also build up cash value that you can access through loans and/or withdrawals to help fund life’s financial opportunities, or realities, like a down payment on a house, supplementing education costs, and health care expenses. 

Why should I consider life insurance?

If you have children, a spouse, or someone who depends on you, life insurance can be a great way to help ensure they can continue to financially support themselves should the unthinkable happen to you. In addition to the death benefit, however, you can also consider permanent life insurance to build up cash value you can use for other expenses while you are alive.

What are the benefits of life insurance?

It helps protect your family’s finances

All of our life insurance policies will pay your beneficiaries money in the event that you pass away, helping to ensure that they can continue to be financially supported.

According to Guardian’s Financial Wellness report, Protecting those we love: The role of life insurance in financial wellness, 8 in 10 people whose spouse passed away but had no life insurance say they have not yet fully recovered financially from their spouse’s death. In America, 75% of households that experience the premature death of a primary wage earner without life insurance report that they are living paycheck to paycheck.1

Benefits of life insurance

Why you need life insurance

Life insurance is an important part of your financial wellness, regardless of your family status.  Here are types of life insurance to consider for what’s important to you:

Single adult that is starting out

If you pass away and don’t have life insurance, some costs could be a burden on those around you. For example, the average cost of a funeral is $7,000 - $10,000.4 And if anyone, like a parent, has co-signed for loans or other types of debt you have — including some student loans — that person could be responsible for the debt, or related taxes.5

Type of life insurance to consider
Term life is an inexpensive approach. And generally, the cost when you’re young is typically lower than it will be later. With a convertibility option, you can lock in a much better deal now and then convert to a permanent coverage later when you have higher income.

How term life works

Term life insurance calculator

Figure out how much you need and get an instant quote


The most important thing is taking care of your family.

For the Carlsons, life insurance didn’t just help improve their financial picture, it enabled them to plan for the future education costs of their newborn child. See how life insurance helped them achieve some of their long-term goals.

Different types of life insurance

There are many varieties of life insurance that you can choose based on your needs, but there are three common types: term life insurance, whole life insurance, and universal life insurance.

Permanent life insurance policies, like whole or universal life, can provide coverage for your entire life. In contrast, term life is an affordable way to provide life insurance protection for a limited period you choose – typically 10, 15, 20, or 30 years. Permanent life insurance policies have a cash value accumulation feature for use during your lifetime, while term life insurance does not.6,7

Whole life insurance

Whole life insurance can be a good option for those looking to have guaranteed protection for the rest of their lives, while earning additional cash value. Whole life policies don’t expire as long as your payments remain current. Whole life policies can also provide dividends, helping you fund life’s other financial opportunities.

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How to buy life insurance

A good place to start is your workplace, as your employer may offer life insurance at lower group rates. If offered, think about enrolling. It’s generally more affordable and easier to buy.

Otherwise, you can work with a financial professional who can guide you through the options that will fit your immediate needs and long-term goals.

How much life insurance do you need?

How much coverage you may purchase mostly depends on where you are in life and how many people depend on the income you earn. In general, the younger you are, the more coverage you’ll need to compensate for the years of potential wage-earning ahead of you. And the more people depend on you, the more coverage you’ll want to meet all their needs in the event of your untimely death. 

How much life insurance should you buy? You can use the calculator below or speak with one our financial professionals to help determine your needs.

You can use this calculator to help estimate the cost of the protection you may need for your unique situation.

How much do you need?

Want to know your life insurance options?

Connect with a financial representative who can help you decide.

Frequently asked questions

Are life insurance policies taxable?

Life insurance death benefits are usually income-tax free. The cash value of your whole life insurance policy will not be taxed while it’s growing. This is known as “tax deferred,” which means that your money grows faster because it’s not being reduced by taxes each year.

What should you do when your term life expires?

You can get a new policy or possibly convert to permanent insurance such as whole life.

Can you buy life insurance with a medical condition?

Medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or even a history of cancer won’t necessarily prevent you from getting life insurance, but you’ll want to shop around to make sure you find the best rates for your health history.

What is the best life insurance for seniors?

Life insurance for those in their 50s or 60s may be more expensive than a policy for someone younger—say in their 30s. However, there are still plenty of choices available to you. The right choice of a life insurance policy will depend on what you want it to do for you.

What is permanent life insurance for?

Permanent life insurance refers to a set of life insurance policies that provide coverage for your entire lifespan, so long as premiums are paid. Whether you pass away immediately after purchasing coverage or 50 years later, your beneficiaries would receive a death benefit.



2Funeral Costs: How Much Does an Average Funeral Cost?” Parting, September 14, 2019

3Deceased Taxpayers – Understanding the General Duties as an Estate Administrator” IRS, July, 16, 2019 

4 All whole life insurance policy guarantees are subject to the timely payment of all required premiums and the claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

5 Dividends are not guaranteed. They are declared annually by Guardian’s Board of Directors. The total dividend calculation includes mortality experience and expense management as well as investment results.

6 Some whole life polices do not have cash values in the first two years of the policy and don’t pay a dividend until the policy’s third year. Talk to your financial representative and refer to your individual whole life policy illustration for more information

7Policy benefits are reduced by any outstanding loan or loan interest and/or withdrawals. Dividends, if any, are affected by policy loans and loan interest. Withdrawals above the cost basis may result in taxable ordinary income. If the policy lapses, or is surrendered, any outstanding loans considered gain in the policy may be subject to ordinary income taxes. If the policy is a Modified Endowment Contract (MEC), loans are treated like withdrawals, but as gain first, subject to ordinary income taxes. If the policy owner is under 59 ½, any taxable withdrawal may also be subject to a 10% federal tax penalty.

8 Universal Life Insurance may lapse prematurely due to inadequate funding (low or no premium), increase in cost of insurance rates as the insured grows older, and a low interest crediting rate. This does not apply to universal life policies which have a secondary guarantee, but if the secondary guarantee requirements are not met the policy will most likely lapse.

Guardian® is a registered trademark of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, NY.