Lose the life insurance when you quit a job?

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Dear Insurance Adviser,
What happens to life insurance policies from previous jobs after you’ve left those employers?
— Darnell

Dear Darnell,
Group life insurance is a nice fringe benefit that many employers provide their employees. Typically, businesses pay for a base amount of coverage (such as one year’s salary) and give the employees the option to buy more out of their own pockets if they medically qualify.

So, what happens to the life insurance when you leave the job? In most cases, you, the employee, will lose the coverage. It stays behind with the job. That’s why, for most people in good health, I advise against buying more of an employer’s life insurance than the free amount. You can buy any additional life insurance you need more economically in the open market.

However, when you depart a job with group life insurance, you must be given the option to convert all or part of your coverage to a personally owned life insurance policy. Usually the option ends within 30 days of leaving the employer. And usually, the conversion policies are permanent policies with cash value and level premiums for life.

Conversion policies are expensive. But for someone who can’t qualify for life insurance because of medical issues, a conversion policy is a bargain.

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