Before comparing life insurance quotes, whether you’re buying term life insurance or universal or whole life insurance, you’ll have two basic categories to consider: Group policies and individual policies.

If you’re employed by a company or individual who contributes to your life insurance costs, then you’re sitting prettier than many folks, and your choice becomes whether or not to purchase a supplemental policy. Hopefully your boss—or your boss’s bosses—will pay a sizable chunk of any permanent or whole life insurance premiums you have. The downside to a group policy is that you often can’t choose the company or the extent of coverage.

If you’re self-employed or your employer doesn’t subsidize life insurance (or the company doesn’t offer what you want—let’s say you want a no-exam life insurance plan or a term life insurance plan), then you’ll gravitate toward an individual policy.

One of the best things about the latter is that you get to select the plan, the company, all the features that will best suit you and your beneficiaries. To do this, talk to the company that already insures your car, home and/or business. You may not get a discount, but it will simplify your financial life to have all insurance handled by the same entity.

A third option is to get group insurance through a professional association, workers guild, credit union, college alumni association or even an automobile club. Often, you can find lower prices through these sorts of organizations.

Also, you might find life insurance through your credit card company or some lending institution, such as your bank. If you’re going with a credit card company, be sure to read the fine print and research the policy heartily before signing up (or speak to your financial advisor or insurance agent). More than a few policyholders in this category have been left empty-handed when a credit card company got bought out or went bankrupt. Not something you want to discover all of the sudden, or when you are facing potentially terminal medical problems.

According to the experts at Free Advice.com, choosing between individual and group is a matter of narrowing down your needs: “Build your financial plan around personal life insurance that you buy on your own and that you can control. Then your group coverage can be used to add to your personal coverage and help meet your total insurance needs,” the online organization recommends.

FreeAdvice warns that some consumers feel their employer-provided policy is sufficient, but “keep in mind that this coverage may not be permanent.” In other words, people with employer-subsidized insurance policies sometimes forget that if they lose their job or the company fails, the policy often goes with. And if you’ve relied solely on that plan for a number of years and you’re in your middle years, not only will you suddenly be without coverage, but when you begin gathering life insurance quotes for an individual policy, your premiums will be much higher. (As a tool to determine how much insurance you’ll need, use the tables and guidelines that are easily found online—at sites like www.lifehappens.org/life-insurance/ or www.iii.org/individuals/life/basics/howsold/.)

Ryan Patterson is president of US Insurance Online based in Austin, TX. He graduated in 2000 from the University of Texas with a combined business and computer science degree, and started the company in May of 2005 with fellow entrepreneur Jim Waltrip. The recently re-launched site is designed to provide insurance shopping help and free insurance quotes. For free life insurance quotes, visit www.USInsuranceOnline.com

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