How to get life insurance—tips and advice

Buying life insurance is about making sure the people who depend on you will be cared for, even if you’re not around. But how do you know how much protection you need, or which type of coverage is right for you and your family?

woman sitting and researching insurance on her laptop

First time buying life insurance? Let us walk you through it.

If you’ve never purchased life insurance before, there’s a good chance you have lots of questions. Fortunately, we’ve been doing this for a very long time, so we’ve put together a mini ”How-to Guide” to help you get started.

Know what you want your coverage to do.

As you get started, it can be helpful to revisit the reasons why you are buying a life insurance policy. Is it to replace your income, pay off your mortgage, or create an inheritance for your loved ones? Whatever the reasons, you’ll want to keep them in mind as you select your coverage.

Figure out how much protection you need.

There are plenty of formulas you can use to determine how much insurance you need. However, it often comes down to the reasons you need coverage in the first place. For example:

  • If you need income replacement, you can add up your annual expenses and multiply that by the number of years you have until retirement.
  • If you want to make sure your loved ones have enough money to pay for a wedding, go to college, take over your business, or fulfill any of your other long-term goals, you could calculate the total cost.

The number you come up with will give you a ballpark idea. But we strongly recommend reviewing your results with a New York Life agent before making any decision.

Decide how much insurance you can afford.

As with any major purchase, it’s important to make sure your life insurance premiums fit within your budget. Remember, some life insurance premiums increase over time, so it’s important to make sure you can afford them today—and tomorrow.

Find the right policy.

Once you figure out how much coverage you'll need, you’ll need to find the right coverage. Your main options are term life, which may better fit your current budget, or whole life, for permanent coverage that also builds cash value.

Learn the lingo.

With terms like "premium," "dividend," "beneficiary," and so on, understanding how life insurance works can be confusing. To help you understand this whole process, we have put together a glossary of insurance terms.

Check out the insurance provider.

An insurance policy is only as good as the company that backs it, so make sure you choose a company that has a proven history of keeping its promises and is financially strong and enough to be there for you and your loved ones when needed.

If you’ve never done it before, figuring out how to purchase life insurance can be a real challenge. That’s why we encourage first-time buyers to work with a New York Life agent. That way, you’ll have an experienced professional to guide you along the way and make sure you have all the information you need to make the best decision. 

Buying Life Insurance FAQs

Anyone who wants to protect the lifestyle and financial well-being of loved ones.

While the amount of time varies by policy, it generally takes two weeks to a month from submitting your application to having your policy issued.

There are lots of ways to purchase life insurance, such as online or at your workplace; however, we believe that a more personal approach is best. By working with an insurance professional, you can make sure all your questions are answered and that you ultimately end up with the right coverage for you and your family.

When you have decided on your coverage and are ready to move forward, make sure you review your policy with your agent and understand all the terms and conditions. When the time comes, do the same with your completed application so that you can be sure all your answers are complete and accurate.


Want to learn more about buying life insurance?

A New York Life financial professional can help determine what’s right for you.

1Diversification does not assure a profit or protect against market loss.