Group life insurance from work tends to be a good deal, but it’s usually not enough — and you can’t take it with you

Group life insurance might not be enough to protect your family. fewerton /

If you have life insurance through work, it is most likely group life insurance. Group life insurance is cheap, but it often isn’t enough to cover your family’s needs and has some other serious shortcomings.

I bought a $US1 million term life insurance policy for myself outside of my job in my 20s, and I’m so glad I did. If I hadn’t, I might be paying a lot more today.

How group life insurance works

Group life insurance is a type of life insurance where multiple people gain coverage as a group. A group of people is less risky for an insurance company than an individual, in most cases, so group insurance can be very inexpensive compared to getting life insurance on your own.

Most people find group life insurance through an employer. You may also find it through a trade union or other organisation. Wherever you find group life insurance, make sure to read the fine print and understand the cost, death benefit, and any policy limitations.

If you get group life insurance at work, your coverage is often tied to a multiple of your earnings. You may be able to get insurance up to a certain policy value automatically. Going over that limit may require medical underwriting – that’s the industry term for a basic checkup with a nurse.

As long as you stay with the employer or group and keep making payments, or they are made on your behalf, you can generally keep the coverage and name any beneficiary you choose.

Policygenius can help you compare life insurance policies to find the best fit for you, at the best price »

Group life insurance is limited in 2 ways

The first problem you may run into with group life insurance is a limit of how much coverage you can have. At a minimum, you should consider purchasing life insurance with a death benefit that is 10 times your annual expenses. More coverage is better.

If you can’t get enough coverage through your group policy, you should think about getting term life insurance on your own as a supplement. Term life insurance is the most affordable option for most people to get life insurance individually.

The other big problem with group life insurance from work is that it isn’t portable. That means it won’t go with you when you change jobs. If you get laid off, fired, or quit on your own, that life insurance from work will probably go away. Unless you can get good life insurance at your next job, you might be left without.

My life insurance went with me when I became self-employed

I spent about a decade in corporate finance and accounting before moving out on my own as a self-employed freelancer. Working at mostly Fortune 500 companies, I had excellent group life insurance at work.

When I left my job in 2016, I already had my own $US1 million life insurance policy. I don’t have an employer to get group life insurance anymore, so I’m thrilled I signed up for coverage when I did. By buying term life insurance in my late 20s, I locked in a rate for this level of coverage for 30 years.

No matter what job I have, my family will be protected by my life insurance until I’m nearly 60 years old.

When you have your own policy, you don’t have to worry about losing it

While a generation ago it was common for someone to stay with the same employer for their entire career, it’s rare for people to work at the same place for more than a decade today. You never know what the economy or your boss is going to do next, and your family’s financial security is too important to leave in someone else’s hands.

With your own term life insurance policy, you don’t have that worry. Just keep up with your monthly premium payments and you’re set for the entire life of the policy.

Policygenius can help you compare life insurance policies to find the best fit for you, at the best price »