• Wed. Apr 24th, 2024

Life insurance for children: Is it worth it?

Buying life insurance is a financial planning rite of passage for many adults. But do you need to buy a policy for your children?

“Rarely would we ever see a need for a child to have a life insurance policy,” says Eddy Jurgielewicz, a certified financial planner with Facet, an investment advisory service. “Life insurance is, first and foremost, intended to provide that financial protection for someone who others financially depend on.”

Life insurance for children does have some benefits, including guaranteeing their future insurability and locking in lower premiums for the future.

Here’s what parents and grandparents need to know about life insurance for children, including when it makes sense and alternative ways to ensure your young one’s financial future.  

What we’ll cover  

What to know about life insurance for children

There are two main ways life insurance for children can be purchased, either as a standalone policy—typically as whole life insurance—or as a rider on a parent’s policy. Riders usually cover the child until they reach a certain age, then give them the option to get their own policy.

There are several reasons people buy life insurance for their kids.

  • It guarantees future insurability. Certain health conditions and occupations can make it harder to get life insurance as an adult. Children’s life insurance policies typically allow the insured minor to get coverage as they mature, regardless of these factors.
  • It can help make premiums more affordable in the future. Getting life insurance for a child can lock in a low premium for life, helping make a policy easier for them to pay for as an adult.
  • It can cover funeral expenses. If the worst happens, it could give a parent peace of mind to know that they’ll be able to cover the costs and take time away from work to grieve.

However, there are also drawbacks to getting a child a life insurance policy.

  • It’s a permanent cost. To keep the policy in force, you — or the child — will likely need to continue to pay the premium on the life insurance policy.
  • It may be a limited policy. Many children’s life insurance policies are small, with less than $100,000 of coverage. They’ll likely need more coverage when they’re older and have dependents of their own to protect.

If you feel that life insurance for your child is important, several of our top picks offer coverage for children as young as 14 days old.

Mutual of Omaha Children’s Whole Life Insurance offers coverage for up to $50,000 with just three health questions, and the opportunity to add more coverage later in life.

Three steps parents can take to help their children financially 

According to Jurgielewicz, there are several things parents can do to provide for their children that don’t involve buying them a life insurance policy.  

Check your own coverage  

“Certainly the most important thing is making sure that the parents have the appropriate coverage in place,” Jurgielewicz says.  

While there are several ways to determine how much life insurance you need, one common method is multiplying your gross annual income by 10. A person making $100,000 a year, therefore, would need $1 million in coverage. 

Another formula for determining adequate coverage is the DIME method. Add up:  

  • Debts you’d leave behind 
  • Income multiplied by the number of years you think your family would need support 
  • Mortgage expenses 
  • Education costs for your children  

Shopping for a life insurance policy or increasing your coverage can be complicated, but we’ve done the research for you. One of our favorite providers is Guardian Life Insurance, for its high financial strength ratings and flexible term life policies.

Guardian Life Insurance

  • Cost

    The best way to estimate your costs is to request a quote

  • App available

  • Policy highlights

    Guardian offers a variety of policies, including term, whole and universal. It also offers term policies that can be converted into whole or universal life policies, along with strong financial strength ratings.

We also like Northwestern Mutual for its long history, excellent financial strength ratings and variety of the products it offers.  

Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance

  • Cost

    The best way to estimate your costs is to request a quote

  • App available

  • Policy highlights

    As the largest life insurer by market share in the U.S., Northwestern Mutual is an established choice with a proven record. And, it offers a number of types of policies across the country. 

Establish an emergency fund  

Having ready cash is critical to protect your family financially when the unexpected happens, Jurgielewicz says. While many experts recommend keeping three to six months’ worth of expenses in reserve, any amount you can quickly tap into is helpful.  

A high-yield savings account (HYSA) is a great place to build an emergency fund since it grows more quickly than a typical savings account. Some HYSA are even offering 5% annual percentage yields (APY).  

We recommend LendingClub’s High-Yield Savings for its high APY and because it doesn’t have any monthly fees or minimum deposits.  

LendingClub High-Yield Savings

LendingClub Bank, N.A., Member FDIC

  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

  • Minimum balance

    No minimum balance requirement after $100.00 to open the account

  • Monthly fee

  • Maximum transactions

  • Excessive transactions fee

  • Overdraft fees

  • Offer checking account?

  • Offer ATM card?

UFB Secure Savings accounts also offer a high APY and no monthly fees or minimum deposits. In addition, depositors can withdraw funds from 91,000 ATMs across the US without paying a fee.

UFB Secure Savings

UFB Secure Savings is offered by Axos Bank, a Member FDIC.

  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

  • Minimum balance

  • Monthly fee

  • Maximum transactions

    No max number of transactions; max transfer amounts may apply

  • Excessive transactions fee

  • Overdraft fee

    Overdraft fees may be charged, according to the terms, but a specific amount is not specified; overdraft protection service available

  • Offer checking account?

  • Offer ATM card?

Invest for college  

With the already high cost of college increasing every year, education can be a huge expense for families.

“When it comes to protecting kids, one of the best things parents can do is make sure that they’ve got a good plan in place to save for college,” says Jurgielewicz. “There are a lot of other really advantageous accounts to consider that will certainly fill a need far greater than potentially looking at life insurance for the child.”  

One way to save for higher education is a 529 plan, a state-sponsored investing account that can be used for education expenses tax-free. Beyond tuition, it can cover fees, books, supplies, room and board and other school-related costs. Anyone can start a 529 plan, making it a great option for grandparents and other family members or loved ones who want to support a child’s future.  

One of CNBC Select’s top picks for 529 plans is my529 (Utah). This policy is available to residents of any state and allows you to invest in age-specific portfolios that rebalance as your child gets older.

my529 (Utah)

Information about my529 has been collected independently by CNBC Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer prior to publication.

  • Minimum opening balance

  • Maximum overall contribution

  • Portfolio options

    4 age-based options with various risk tolerance, which automatically rebalances each year; 10 static options based on risk tolerance and U.S. stocks and bonds (investors will need to manually change their allocations); 2 customizable options (either age- or static-based)

  • Underlying funds

    Investors can choose from Dimensional Fund Advisors mutual funds, PIMCO Interest Income Fund, Vanguard Group funds and FDIC-insured accounts from Sallie Mae Bank and U.S. Bank

  • Fees and expenses

    Total asset-based expense ratio: 0.131% to 0.136% for my529 target-date options; 0.130% to 0.455% for customized static and age-based options, depending on investment mix; 0.211% for stable value option

Bright Start College Savings (Illinois)

Information about Bright Start College Savings has been collected independently by CNBC Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer prior to publication.

  • Minimum opening balance

  • Maximum overall contribution

  • Portfolio options

    Choose from age-based, target (based on risk tolerance and/or fixed-asset allocation) and individual fund portfolios

  • Underlying funds

    Investors can choose from 11 funds including ones through DFA, Dodge & Cox, T. Rowe Price and Vanguard

  • Fees and expenses

    Total asset-based expense ratio: 0.07% to 0.79%

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Bottom line  

There are some benefits to buying a life insurance policy for a child, but it may not be the best way to protect your family. Parents should revisit their own policies, grow their emergency fund and make investments that can help pay for their children’s education. 

Meet our experts

At CNBC Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. For this story, we interviewed Eddy Jurgielewicz, a financial planner at Facet.

Why trust CNBC Select?

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.

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