In general, life insurance is a type of coverage that pays benefits upon a person's death or disability. In exchange for relatively small premiums paid in the present, the policy holder receives the assurance that a larger amount of money will be available in the future to help his or her beneficiaries pay debts and funeral expenses. Some forms of life insurance can also be used as a tax-deferred investment to provide funds during a person's lifetime for retirement or everyday living expenses. A small business might provide life insurance to its workers as a tax-deductible employee benefit—like health insurance and retirement programs—in order to compete with larger companies in attracting and retaining qualified employees. In addition, there are a number of specialized life insurance plans that allow small business owners to reduce the impact of estate taxes on their heirs and protect their businesses against the loss of a key employee, partner, or stockholder. Group life insurance is generally inexpensive and is often packaged with health insurance for a small additional fee. Companies that provide life insurance for their employees can deduct the cost of the policies for tax purposes, except when the company itself is named as the beneficiary. Life insurance is important for individuals as well, particularly those who—like many entrepreneurs—are not covered by a company's group plan. Experts recommend that every adult purchase a minimum amount of life insurance, at least enough to cover their debts and burial expenses so that these costs do not fall upon their family members. The insurance industry uses a standard of five time’s annual income in estimating how much coverage an individual should purchase. In her book Health Insurance: A Guide for Artists, Consultants, Entrepreneurs, and Other Self-Employed, Lenore Janecek claims that entrepreneurs should determine the minimum amount of coverage they need by calculating how much they spend annually and how much debt they have, then adding the cost of funeral arrangements and, if applicable, college tuition for children. The cost of life insurance policies depends upon the type of policy, the age and gender of the applicant, and the presence or absence of dangerous life-style habits. Insurance company actuaries use these statistics to determine an individual's mortality rate, or estimated number of years that person can be expected to live. Policies for women usually cost less than those for men, because women tend to live longer on average. This means that the insurance company will receive premiums and earn interest on them longer before it has to make a payment. Experts recommend that companies or individuals seeking life insurance coverage choose an insurance agent with a rating of A or better, and compare the costs of various options before settling on a policy. History
Main article: History of insurance
Insurance began as a way of reducing the risk to traders, as early as 2000 BC in China and 1750 BC in Babylon. Life insurance dates to ancient Rome; "burial clubs" covered the cost of members' funeral expenses and assisted survivors financially. Modern life insurance originated in 17th century England, originally as insurance for traders. Merchants, ship owners and underwriters met to discuss deals at Lloyd's Coffee House, predecessor to the famous Lloyd's of London. The first society to sell life insurance was the Amicable Society for a Perpetual Assurance Office. The first insurance company in the United States was formed in Charleston, South Carolina in 1732, but it provided only fire insurance. The sale of life insurance in the U.S. began in the late 1760s. The Presbyterian Synods in Philadelphia and New York created the Corporation for Relief of Poor and Distressed Widows and Children of Presbyterian Ministers in 1759; Episcopalian priests organized a similar fund in 1769. Between 1787 and 1837 more than two dozen life insurance companies were...
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