Q. My husband and I plan to buy a new home together using our mortgage-free home.
However, my husband is considerably older than I, and, even with a 15-year mortgage, I am worried that, should he die before me, I would not be able to keep the home. We think the premiums on a life insurance policy to cover the mortgage would be rather expensive. Have you any suggestions as to how we can achieve our dream and also alleviate my worries?
A. I find it interesting that, every time one purchases (or even refinances) a house, the insurance industry sends you a virtual deluge of literature and information relating to mortgage life insurance.
I do not know the statistics on how many people purchase this kind of insurance, but it is my opinion that such an insurance policy generally is really not worthwhile.
Usually these kinds of mortgage life insurance policies maintain the same policy premium each and every year, even though the amount insured (i.e., the value of the mortgage) is going down in value.
It makes sense to sit down with a number of insurance agents to evaluate many different kinds of insurance options. You first have to determine exactly what income you will be receiving if your husband dies. With pension plans, Social Security benefits, or other insurance policies, and the proceeds from other investments, your monthly mortgage payments may be covered in any event. Thus, you may not need to spend the additional funds for that mortgage life insurance policy. Indeed, I often have recommended that people self-insure themselves, and put the amount of the monthly or quarterly premium in a savings account, so that it will build up its own equity.
You also may find that other kinds of insurance are more suitable for your particular needs. For example, compare the cost of mortgage life insurance to that of a term insurance policy. You may find that the latter is less expensive, and will give you greater coverage.
Additionally, why do you want to have your house free and clear if your husband dies? If, for example, the other income you will be receiving will be adequate to pay the monthly mortgage payments, wouldn't it be better to invest the proceeds of other insurance policies so that you can have a comfortable nest egg for your own future needs and comfort?
You also should consider whether you really want to stay in the house if your husband dies. The survivor often decides to move for a number of reasons, including the house being too large for one person, the memories too strong or the survivor reluctant to live in the house alone.
If there is a possibility that you'll be selling or renting the house when your husband dies, then, in my opinion, mortgage life insurance will serve no valid purpose.
Needless to say, insurance is a very personal factor. Everyone should consider his or her own needs and desires, based on financial and personal circumstances. It may very well be that mortgage life insurance is best for you. But you should ask yourself the various questions raised in this article, and discuss the situation with your husband, your family and your insurance agents.