When I discuss life insurance and disability insurance with clients, it is often in the context of others who are dependent on them for financial support (spouse, children, family). If you have dependents, and are a substantial breadwinner, you should strongly consider owning some form of individual life insurance and disability insurance. We often discuss needs in terms of income replacement or financial goals, such as replacing seven to 10 years of salary or paying off a mortgage. It can also apply to what you would have to pay someone to do your uncompensated work, such as child care, cooking, cleaning and parental care.

You can purchase insurance on an individual basis or through work on a Group basis. I often recommend purchasing insurance on an individual basis if possible. If you switch jobs, there is no way you can control if your new employer will offer similar levels of life or disability insurance coverage, if any at all.

Before working with an insurance professional, you may want to consider the advice of a fee-only financial planner who can offer you an objective review of your insurance needs and options. Determining an appropriate amount of coverage requires an assessment of your unique financial situation, and individual goals and needs.

Once you determine how much insurance you need and what type of policy you want to buy, there are many insurance companies from which to choose. Do some research at the library or online to find companies with the highest ratings from the four ratings agencies: AM Best, Duff Phelps, Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s. You can also tell your financial planner or other trusted advisor that you are considering life and disability insurance and ask for referrals to an independent insurance professional who can help you select a company and make your purchase.