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How Do I Protect My Income-Earning Potential?

Just because you landed a new job doesn't mean that your loved ones are more secure. What if something happened to you tomorrow?

Your income-earning potential is probably your most valuable asset. Your income helps guarantee that the bills are paid, college tuition provided, your family's lifestyle maintained — that, every month, the money is in the checking account to help pay the mortgage, auto and other loans, buy clothes and put food on the table.

Some defensive strategies for protection include buying health insurance, auto insurance, and homeowner's insurance, renter's insurance, and life insurance.

Life Insurance
Life insurance can be one of the most effective tools for replacing lost income, as it can deliver a designated amount of money to your beneficiary, generally income-tax-free, at the very time it is needed most.

To determine how much is enough, take a look at our Survivor Needs Calculator.

When estimating a ballpark figure of coverage needs, there are other facts to consider:

  • When factoring in existing coverage, be careful about including employer-sponsored insurance when calculating your needs. Coverage may end with your employment if you change jobs, leaving you underinsured.
  • When counting term life insurance as you add up your total coverage, consider the number of years you will have this coverage.
  • If you have a child with special needs or a disabled spouse, you may need life insurance to provide a lifelong income for them, not just for a limited number of years.
  • If you have excessive debts or higher education bills on the horizon, you may need more coverage than the formula indicates.
  • Taxes and inflation.

The sooner you protect yourself, the more financial sense it makes. Click here to learn more about life insurance.

Disability Insurance
When protecting your income-earning potential, make sure to think about disability. What would happen to your family if you become disabled and were unable to work? The risk of disability — as well as the potential cost — is simply too great to ignore. Between the ages of 35 and 65, the average American worker runs a 30% risk of being disabled — and unable to work — for 3 months or longer. (Disability Insurance policies are underwritten by the following subsidiaries of UnumProvident Corporation: Provident Life and Accident Insurance Company, 1 Fountain Square, Chatanooga, TN, 37402 or The Paul Revere Life Insurance Company, 18 Chestnut St., Worcester, MA, 01608. In New York, Disability income policies are underwritten by First Unum Life Insurance Company, 99 Park Avenue, NY, NY, 10016, Provident Life and Casualty Insurance Company, 1 Fountain Square, Chatanooga, TN, 37402 and The Paul Revere Life Insurance Company, 18 Chestnut St., Worcester, MA, 01608.)

If you become disabled, here are five possible ways to manage financially:

  1. Tap into savings. But how long will the funds last? You could use up in a few short months assets that took years to accumulate.
  2. Borrow. But who will lend you the money? Even family and friends can only help so much. This is a short-term and potentially short-sighted solution.
  3. Sell assets. But if you have the assets to sell, what price will you get for them? Will you sell your home? Your cars?
  4. Count on Social Security. But will your claim be approved and, if so, how much will you receive?
  5. Transfer the risk to an insurance company. This can be more affordable and safer in the long run.

Click here to read more about disability income insurance.

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How Do I Protect My Income-Earning Potential?

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