Life insurance is too complex to buy online

Getting it right demands a face-to-face discussion with a professional adviser with the knowledge and time to understand your specific needs

From books and cars to airline tickets and shoes, you can buy just about anything online and lots of us are doing it.

You can even buy all sorts of insurance products online, including life insurance. But should you go the DIY Internet route for something as important as your life insurance policy?

If you’re thinking about life insurance, congratulations! But, you do understand the need to protect your family but buying life insurance on the Internet may not be a great choice. Here’s why.

Off the rack: Online life insurance product offerings are limited, usually to a one-size-fits-all solution. You need a policy that is tailored to your precise needs, your unique financial and life goals.

Standalone: An online purchase will get you a stand-alone product, but your life insurance choice should fit seamlessly with your overall financial plan.

Simplicity: Life insurance is not that simple. There are three basic choices, term, whole life and universal life, with many variations.

Which one do you need? Which does your spouse/common-law partner need? How much coverage is right for you — $100,000, $500,000, or more?

Who should own the policy and how should your designations to your beneficiaries be arranged? What is your age, income, health, number of dependents? Is the cash value of your policy more important than the cost of your premiums? Will you want to be able to borrow against the value of your policy to help pay for the cost of your children’s education or to supplement your retirement income?

Lots of questions that demand the right answers and you won’t find them online because life insurance policies have way too many optional features that can’t be adequately described on a website.

Assured service: Some life insurance websites are just order-taking clearing houses. What happens in a few years when you want to update your policy? Will the company’s website still be active?

Life insurance is a valuable and complex asset. Getting it right demands a face-to-face discussion with a professional adviser with the knowledge and time to understand your specific, individual needs and offer the correct solution for you.

J. Kevin Dobbelsteyn is a certified financial planner with Investors Group Financial Services Inc. His column appears every Wednesday.

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