How much insurance do you need? Another way of asking that is how much insurance do you have to pay for? Health insurance. Auto insurance. Homeowners insurance. It seems like a never-ending list of protection that you need to pay for and hope that you will never need to use.
Once you have a family, there are a few other kinds of insurance that are equally as important as health insurance. If you are the primary provider and something happens to you, will your family be able to manage financially? Making sure that your family has some protection in case you die or become disabled is something you should be sure to take care of now. If the worst happens, having insurance will make difficult times a little easier for your family.
Once you become a father, life insurance is essential. If you are an important source of financial support for your family — whether or not you are married, and whether or not your baby's mother also works — you need to make sure that support continues, even if you aren't around anymore.
How much life insurance do you need? That depends on what other source of income your family will have if you die, and what other assets you have. If your life insurance policy is going to be the primary source of money for your family over a long period of time, then you should get as much life insurance as you can afford. And the best time to buy it is when you are just starting to think about having a baby.
Fortunately, life insurance doesn't have to be that expensive to buy. Especially if you are young, healthy, and don't smoke, you should be able to obtain term life insurance at a very reasonable rate. For example, if you are in your twenties or thirties, you can get $500,000 of coverage in a twenty-year policy for only about $300 a year. That means that if you die within twenty years, then your beneficiary will get $500,000 tax-free to care for your family. You can increase your coverage to $1 million and still just pay about $500 a year.
Don't overlook the need for life insurance for a stay-at-home parent. Although not technically a “breadwinner,” if this parent dies, will you be able to afford day care or a nanny for your baby? If not, make sure that both you and your partner have life insurance.
What happens after twenty years? Ideally, by that time you will have amassed other assets that can provide for your family, or your children will be grown and able to support themselves. Or, for a few hundred dollars more each year, you may be able start off with a thirty-year policy instead.
Less well known than life insurance, disability insurance can help provide you and your family with financial support if you are injured and are no longer able to work. Because a younger father is much more likely to become disabled than to die, long-term disability insurance can be important to have. It will help to supplement any Social Security benefits that you will get, help pay your bills, and help your family to maintain their current lifestyle if you can't work anymore.
Because your family will be more likely to need and benefit from disability insurance, many experts consider it even more important to have than life insurance. Of course, having both types of insurance is best. Talk to a financial advisor if you can only afford one and aren't sure which to choose.