Buying life insurance is a great way to protect your family’s financial security. But there are a few things to consider before doing so in Washington state. There is a wide variety of policies to choose from, as well as numerous regulations that apply to Washington policyholders. So, you should learn as much as you can about the life insurance industry in Washington before making a purchase. But don’t worry, EZ is here to assist you. First, read our comprehensive guide to life insurance in Washington. Then contact an EZ agent; we can answer any questions you have and help you find the best policy for you.
How Life Insurance Works in Washington
When you buy life insurance, you and your insurance company enter into a legally binding contract. You agree to pay the required premiums to the insurer. Then if you die while your policy is active, your chosen beneficiary (or beneficiaries) will receive a lump-sum payment, known as a death benefit, from the insurance company. They can use the funds for whatever they choose. Such as mortgage payments, income replacement, or saving for retirement or college tuition.
People who have dependents, debts, or other financial obligations that must be taken care of even after death should purchase life insurance. And life insurance is an absolute must if you are the sole provider for your family. A policy ensures that your family’s current standard of living will be preserved, even after you are gone.
Types of Life Insurance In Washington
There are so many different types of life insurance policies available these days that almost anyone can find one that is right for them. But because there are so many options out there, you’ll have to make a lot of decisions about what you’re looking for. The first decision you’ll have to make is which of the two main types of life insurance you should purchase:
- Term life insurance
- Permanent life insurance
There are multiple differences between these types of policies, as laid out below.
Because of its low premiums, term life insurance is the more popular type of life insurance. Premiums for term life are usually lower since these policies do not provide indefinite coverage. Instead, when you purchase a term life policy, you choose how long you want to be covered for. A policy’s term is typically 15 years. But it can be as short as one year or as long as 30 years. In most cases, your premium will remain the same for the duration of your policy. If you die while the policy is active, your beneficiaries will receive a tax-free death benefit.
There are several types of term life policies available, including:
Level Term Life Insurance
The death benefit and premiums for level term life insurance are set at the time of purchase. They will stay the same for the entire term of the policy. When it comes to life insurance, the vast majority of people opt for level term policies.
Annual Renewable Term Life Insurance
Annual renewable life insurance is a one-year term life insurance policy. You will be able to renew your policy on an annual basis. However, the premiums will rise with each passing year.
Increasing Term Life Insurance
The death benefit of an increasing term life insurance policy grows over time. The value of your benefit, for example, could increase by 5% per year. Increasing term insurance premiums, unlike other types of term life insurance premiums, are likely to fluctuate over time.
Decreasing Term Life Insurance
While the death benefit of decreasing term life insurance decreases over time, the premium stays the same. This type of policy is commonly purchased for coverage while repaying a loan or mortgage. So, as the loan is repaid, the death benefit will decrease.
Return-of-Premium Life Insurance
Return-of-premium (ROP) insurance is a type of term life insurance that refunds your premium payments if you die before the policy’s expiration date. Many people like the return of premiums feature, but keep in mind that ROP policies are much more expensive than other types of term life insurance.
Permanent Life Insurance
Unlike term life insurance policies, a permanent life insurance policy will remain in effect for the rest of your life as long as you continue to pay your premiums on time. Because of this, as well as the fact that these policies typically include an interest-bearing savings account (known as cash value), the premiums for permanent life are usually higher than those of a term policy.
There are numerous types of permanent life insurance policies available, including:
Whole life insurance offers both a guaranteed death benefit and fixed premiums. A whole life insurance policy, in addition to providing a death benefit, can accumulate cash value that earns interest at a predetermined, tax-free rate.
Universal life insurance (UL) is a versatile type of permanent life insurance. You will be able to change the death benefit and premium payment amounts. Your UL premiums will be applied to both the cost of insurance (COI) and the savings component (also known as the cash value), and you will eventually be able to use the cash value to pay your premiums. You will also be able to reduce your premium payments by reducing the amount of your death benefit if you so desire.
Indexed Universal Life Insurance
Indexed universal life insurance (IUL) is another type of permanent life insurance with a cash value, but its cash value can earn more money because its interest rate is determined by investment in a stock index. The premium for an IUL policy can be adjusted in the same way that it is for a universal life policy as the cash value of the policy increases. It could become a no-premium policy in the future, with the cash value covering the entire premium.
Variable Universal Life Insurance
The cash value of a variable universal life (VUL) policy, like the cash value of other permanent life insurance policies, can be invested. The premium can also be changed, just like with conventional universal life insurance. But variable universal life insurance policies provide subaccounts, which are similar to mutual funds, in which the cash value can be invested.
Final expense insurance is a type of whole life insurance that pays a small death benefit, typically ranging from $2,000 to $35,000. Because they do not require a medical exam, these policies are a good option for people who are older or in poor health, but they are relatively expensive and only pay out a small amount.
The death benefit from final expense insurance is intended to cover final expenses such as a burial, cremation, or funeral service. Your beneficiary, though, will be able to spend the death benefit on anything they want, such as a vacation or property taxes.
Washington Life Insurance Laws
The federal government has delegated much of its responsibility for regulating insurance industries and protecting consumers to the states. The insurance industry in Washington is primarily governed by Title 48 of the Revised Code. However, other provisions have been adopted as consumer protection laws. The state of Washington’s insurance industry is regulated by the Office of the Insurance Commissioner.
You should pay close attention to the following guidelines:
Free Look Period
A life insurance policy is binding in Washington once it has been signed, since there is no statutory “free look period.” Free look periods give new policyholders a short amount of time (usually) two weeks to review and try out their policies before making a commitment. But even though Washington state law does not mandate that insurance companies give you a risk-free trial period, many do. Speak to your chosen life insurance company to find out if they offer a free look period before you purchase a policy.
Payments can be missed for a variety of reasons, including incorrect due dates, checks that are lost in the mail, or oversight. It would be difficult for an insurance business to function if a policy had to be canceled immediately every time a payment was late. To keep things consistent Washington has established a minimum period of time before an insurance company can deny a death claim or cancel a policy after a missed premium. In Washington companies have to give you a minimum of 30 days from the payment due date to file or make a payment. This protects beneficiaries and saves policyholders from having to go through the reinstatement process.
Your insurance policies in the state of Washington will remain in effect even if your insurance company goes bankrupt. Death benefits up to $500,000 are guaranteed by the Washington Life and Disability Insurance Guaranty Association. But it’s important to note that even if you have multiple life insurance policies with a combined face value greater than $500,000, only $500,000 will be paid out to your beneficiaries by this organization if your insurance company goes out of business.
To be eligible for this protection, your insurance company must have been licensed in Washington State, and your policy must be in good standing.
There are no mandated timelines in the state of Washington for paying out claims. But state law mandates that the beneficiary’s account begin earning interest on the date of the decedent’s death. This clause ensures claims will be paid out promptly and keeps insurance companies in check. As a result, in Washington state, most people receive their benefits within a month.
The price of your premiums will be affected by factors such as your age, health, and even your gender. The quickest way to find out how much a policy will cost you is to get in touch with one of our EZ agents. Simply give them some basic information, and they will find you free quotes that are tailored to you. To give an example, though, a healthy 30-year-old man who does not smoke could pay anywhere from $23 to $69 per month for a 20-year $965,000 policy in Washington.
Washington Life Insurance Resources
In Washington there are several resources available to help you with any problems with your insurer or policy. These resources include:
- Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner – You might have questions when looking for a policy or submitting a claim after a loved one’s passing. The Washington State Insurance Commissioner’s Office, the state’s regulatory agency, offers numerous helpful resources for policyholders.
- Washington Life and Disability Insurance Guaranty Association – If an insurer declares bankruptcy and is unable to meet its financial obligations to policyholders, Washington residents are protected by the association.
Does Washington require life insurance?
No, you will never be forced to get life insurance. It is always your choice.
What are the best life insurance companies in Washington?
There are a lot of good ways to get life insurance in Washington. At the top of the list are New York Life, Northwestern Mutual, Prudential, Lincoln Financial, and State Farm.
How much does life insurance cost in Washington?
There are many things that can affect how much life insurance costs, but here’s an example. A healthy 30-year-old woman in Washington who wants a $965,000 20-year term policy that lasts for 20 years and costs on average $35.87 per month will pay for it. A healthy 30-year-old man, on the other hand, will pay about $37.02 for the same policy.
EZ Can Help!
At EZ, we get that everyone has unique requirements, priorities, and financial constraints. We also know that you want the best for your family without depleting your savings account. So, we make every effort to simplify the process of purchasing life insurance, and we do it all for free. You will not be charged any additional fees for assistance with anything. From answering basic questions to navigating policy selection to the enrollment process and beyond. Simply enter your zip code in the space provided below or call us at 877-670-3560 to get started.