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How to calculate your insurance needs

Last updated on: November 16, 2009 11:59 IST

If choosing the right insurance for you is hard, imagine having to calculate how much you need to buy!

Here, shows you how to go about calculating the right amount of insurance cover.

There are two ways to calculate life insurance cover requirements: Expense Protection and Human Life Value approach.

While the former considers your expenses, the latter considers your future income. Human Life Value is the economic value of an individual; the present value of one's his future income. Setting aside the part of income one spends on oneself, the protection required through Human Life Value calculates today's value of one's income for the years till one's retirement.

Expense protection, on the other hand, calculates the corpus required to take care of the family's future expenses and goals. Inflation diminishes the value of money and hence expenses need to be adjusted to inflation for calculation of protection required.

For what term do you need this cover?
Ideally insurance must be taken to cover the working period in one's life. You take insurance to protect your dependents from the loss of your income; using the same logic, you take insurance for the time that the dependents are being supported by your income. Hence, it is advisable to take insurance till one's retirement. However, when insurance is taken for protecting and saving towards specific goals, then the tenure of the plan should match the years left for meeting the goal.

What type of products suit you?
Choosing a product will depend on the specific need and the life stage one is in.

What is the final product you will choose?
When there are multiple choices that match the need, it is affordability that makes the final choice. Most importantly, individuals must be educated. They must know that life insurance products for investment and savings are structured for the long term and meant for someone who is earning and whose earnings are supporting his/her dependant(s).

We have seen clients who have 17 insurance policies. We have seen clients who bought insurance policies for their non-working mothers as a gift, not realising that a non-working member of the household with no young children does not need to have insurance purchased in her name. It is better to have bought insurance for the father who is supporting the mother, so that she can get some financial help when he is no longer there.

To demonstrate the importance of adequate insurance and planning, we'll take an example of a 35-year-old married man with two children.

He earns Rs 5 lakh per annum, spends Rs 3 lakh to run the household and is the only earning member in the family. He has an existing term plan with risk cover of Rs 15 lakh which he took when his second child was born. In March 2009 he invests Rs 10,000 in a pension plan to make up the shortfall in the income tax deductions allowed for him. As far as he is concerned he is well insured and set for the future.

Let's see what happens if he were to die tomorrow. The family will receive Rs 15 lakh as claim settlement from the insurance company. Assuming that they invest the entire corpus in an FD at 10 per cent interest per annum, their annual income would be Rs 150,000. The shortfall in this case, to meet the household expenses, will be an additional Rs 150,000 every year.

To meet the shortfall, they will have to dig into the accumulated corpus, which in turn will diminish to nothing in just seven years. What will happen to his family post that? Who will provide for his children's education, marriage, his wife's retired life and all such important aspects that should have been planned for?

Let's now assume that he survives till his retirement. Assuming his retirement age to be 60 years and the return on his pension investment of Rs 10,000 per annum to be 8 per cent, the accumulated corpus at his retirement would be Rs 7.9 lakh (the value of which today is Rs 1.15 lakh). Will that suffice to take care of him and his wife for their retired life?

Some points to consider: is a one-stop personal finance website which helps in managing finances, investments and taxes through services like financial planning, online tax filing, budgeting and 'Ask the Expert'.