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Juvenile Life Insurance: The Whys and Hows

As a parent, perhaps you’ve been able to check the critical financial boxes for your family. You’ve established emergency funds, secured life and disability insurance, and are on track with your retirement goals. You may wonder, is there anything else I could be doing to help my children?

This can be the time for parents and even grandparents to consider juvenile life insurance. It’s an often-misunderstood type of life insurance that provides protection for your children or grandchildren.

For some, the topic of juvenile life insurance evokes confusion and perhaps even fear. After all, why would one want to insure a perfectly healthy child?

Thankfully, the loss of a child is extremely rare. So while a juvenile life insurance policy does indeed insure against this very slim risk, some types of coverage are also designed to protect your child’s financial future—in a way no other financial product can.

3 types of juvenile life insurance

1) Juvenile permanent life insurance. This type of coverage is permanent, as long as premiums are paid, and typically accumulates cash value over the years, just like with permanent life insurance for adults. Juvenile policies are generally issued at the lowest rates available, and with limited underwriting. They’re owned by a parent or grandparent until the child is 18, at which point the now-adult insured (even if he’s still just a child in his parents’ eyes) can assume ownership.

Upon ownership, the insured adult child enjoys some distinct benefits:

Guaranteed insurability. Your daughter or son locks in a low rate and continued coverage—and can generally purchase more life insurance up to allowable limits. This may be the most compelling reason parents buy juvenile life insurance. Insurability is easy to take for granted when you have it. While most children are healthy, a future health concern could one day make your son or daughter hard to insure. This affects their entire family, who must find other ways to protect against financial vulnerability.

Cash value. The policy’s cash value grows tax-deferred over time, making it a reliable savings vehicle with some unique characteristics. If the cash is needed, the policyowner can access it through low-interest policy loans or outright withdrawals. The policy can also be surrendered for the cash value, typically minus a surrender fee.

2) Juvenile term life insurance. In contrast to juvenile permanent life insurance, juvenile term offers parents significantly less expensive coverage. However, term life insurance does not have a cash value, and only lasts for a specific length of time, such as 10, 20 or 30 years. Policyowners pay a level premium during the length of the term, at which point the term expires and coverage becomes more expensive, often significantly so.

Juvenile term coverage is typically available as a rider (basically, a coverage option) on a parent’s term policy. This rider typically lasts until your child reaches adulthood. You can often purchase coverage for all your children for the same price, with a single rider. In the event of the unexpected death of an insured, the policy’s death benefit can be used to cover expenses.

3) Juvenile group life insurance. Finally, some employers offer juvenile life insurance options through their group life insurance coverage. While convenient, keep in mind employee benefit programs can change at any time, and that in general, group life insurance can be hard or impossible to take with you if you leave your employer.

Remember, while you may have a lot of other priorities on your plate, juvenile life insurance can help create a bedrock of financial stability for your children as they come of age in an uncertain world.

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