How much life insurance protection do you need?

The amount of life insurance you need will change with your life. Getting married, growing your family or getting a new job are all good times to review your life insurance needs. Even if you already have some life insurance, it’s important to make sure you have enough.

A general guideline is to have coverage equal to seven to ten times your annual salary.1

7-10 years X Annual Salary = Amount of Life Insurance

That might sound like a lot, but consider this: It can take years for a family to financially recover from the loss of a loved one.2 Even if you already have some life insurance, are you sure that it could meet your financial needs?

Working adults who have lost their spouse or partner who was the household’s main wage earner report that after 5–7 years, they are still feeling the financial impact.³

The right times to consider getting life insurance

Life insurance can be an important part of your financial wellness as your life changes.

  • If you pass away and don't have life insurance, final expenses and other costs could be a burden on those around you. For example, the average cost of a funeral is $8,000–$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

    • Working parent
      You need a death benefit large enough to replace your income and cover family expenses for a given amount of time, usually until your kids are out of the house or your mortgage is paid off, but it could be longer. 
    • Stay-at-home parent with a young family 
      When a parent chooses to care for children full time rather than pursue a career, they have life insurance needs, because their labor has economic value. If a stay-at-home parent passes away unexpectedly, how would their spouse pay for child care or other services that a single working parent might rely on to help keep the household running? Life insurance can help. 
    • Homeowner 
      If you have a mortgage on your house and something should happen to you, life insurance can help to ensure that your family can continue to live their lives in the place they call home.
  • Hoping to head into retirement within the next five to 10 years? Congratulations! Maybe you plan to travel, or shift your professional life into consulting or part-time gigs. As you reflect and recognize how far you’ve come, you may also want to look more closely at the legacy you’d like to leave.

Life insurance for financial health

There’s strength in knowing that who and what you love is protected. Purchasing life insurance through your workplace is a great way to boost your financial confidence knowing you’re prepared for whatever comes your way.

Top three reasons reported for obtaining life insurance are to cover final expenses, replace lost income, and leave an inheritance.⁶

Frequently asked questions

  • Life insurance is paid directly to your beneficiaries, generally not subject to income taxes, and the value is not affected by market conditions.

  • Purchasing life insurance through work is often less expensive because of the buying power of a group. What’s more, the process can be easier, especially if the coverage your employer is offering does not require health questions or a medical exam, and premiums are paid through convenient and automatic payroll deductions.

  • Yes, you can take the coverage with you if you change jobs or retire. You will pay the premium yourself, typically on a monthly or annual basis, and it will be different than the group rate.

How to take advantage of your life insurance benefits at work

Review the benefits offered through your workplace and determine how much life insurance is available to you. If your employer provides life insurance as a benefit, consider this an easy and convenient way to secure additional financial protection for who and what you love. 



This is Guardian's Rule of Thumb based on experience and may not apply universally to every individual and their unique set of circumstances.


11th Annual Workplace Benefits Study, Guardian Life, 2022.


"Funeral Costs: How Much Does an Average Funeral Cost?" Parting, September 13, 2022.


Does a person’s debt go away when they die?, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, May 16, 2022.


2022 Insurance Barometer Study, LIMRA and Life Happens, 2022

Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents, and employees do not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. Consult your tax, legal, or accounting professional regarding your individual situation.

Guardian’s Group Term Life Insurance is underwritten and issued by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, NY. Products are not available in all states. Policy limitations and exclusions apply. Optional riders and/or features may incur additional costs. Generic Policy Form # GP-1-LIFE-15. The state approved form is the governing document. For NY, the Policy Form # is GP-1-LIFE-12-NY.

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

2023-157772 20250731