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Too Late for Affordable Life Insurance?

Couples in their 50s can protect assets at a reasonable cost with term policies.

Q: My husband and I are both self-employed and don't have life insurance to cover the mortgage and other expenses in case one of us dies. What’s the best thing to do to cover each other on a limited income? We're in our late 50s.

— Hilarie, 58, Charleston, S.C.

A: It's not too late to get life insurance coverage. You and your husband should focus on obtaining term policies that will cover a specific period of time. In general, the premiums on term life insurance are more affordable than the premiums on permanent life insurance.

Before you can select a term policy, you’ll need to estimate how much insurance you and your husband need. Would enough coverage to pay off the mortgage enable the surviving spouse to live off his or her income? Or would additional coverage for living expenses be necessary? You’ll also need to decide how long both of you will need life insurance protection.

The cost of coverage may not be as much as you fear. A large life insurance company I checked with indicated that the annual premium on a 10-year, $100,000 level term policy for a 58-year-old in good health is around $350. The premium on a level term insurance policy stays the same each year over the policy period (10 years in this example). Coverage is also available for longer than a decade, but at greater cost.

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