What Is Indexed Universal Life Insurance (IUL)?

What Is Indexed Universal Life Insurance (IUL)?

When life insurance policy types are listed and described, the focus is usually on two of them: term life and whole life policies. There are more types than those two, though, and they’re typically more complex. They include universal life insurance — and, as a subset, indexed universal life insurance, or IUL. This is an advanced type of policy, where interest on the cash value component is linked to a market index.

In this post, we’ll define IUL, explain how it works, share its pros and cons, and more.

Definition of Indexed Universal Life Insurance (IUL)

First, let’s define universal life insurance. Universal life insurance is a permanent policy, which means that it doesn’t have a set term (say, for 10 or 20 years) and it comes with a cash value. A universal life insurance policy allows policyholders to flexibly adjust premiums and death benefits, though this can have an adverse effect on the policy.

Now, what is IUL? Indexed universal life insurance adds another twist to the equation. This is a type of universal life insurance that doesn’t come with a fixed interest rate. Instead, its growth is tied to a market index. (More about the index soon.)


💡 Quick Tip: With life insurance, one size does not fit all. Policies can and should be tailored to fit your specific needs.

How Does IUL Work?

After someone buys an IUL policy, they pay premiums, which is similar to other types of life insurance policy structures. Part of that premium covers the insurance costs that, like with other types of life insurance, are based on the insured’s demographics. Remaining fees paid go towards the cash value of policy. Interest paid is calculated in ways that are based on an index (or indexes).

This may sound similar to investing in the stock market, but there’s a key difference. The part of the premium that goes towards the cash value of the policy doesn’t get directly invested in stocks. Instead, the market index(es) is how the interest rate and amount is determined, with a minimum fixed interest rate usually guaranteed.

IULs typically offer policyholders a choice of indexes and allow them to divide the cash value portions of their premiums between fixed and indexed account options.

Explaining the “Index” Feature

A market index represents a broad portfolio of investments with the use of weighted average mathematics to come up with the index figure, which then plays a central role in the amount of interest paid. The three most commonly used market indexes in the United States are the Dow Jones, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite.

Note that funds invested for the cash portion of the insurance policy do not need to be invested in the index used to calculate the interest. Many times, insurers invest these dollars in bonds rather than stocks.

Benefits and Drawbacks of IUL Insurance

Like other types of life insurance policies, indexed universal life insurance comes with pros and cons. Here is an overview of the benefits and drawbacks of IUL.

Benefits of IUL Insurance

Benefits include:

•   There’s a death benefit for beneficiaries, as well as the cash value of the policy.

•   Withdrawals can be tax-free up to the amount of premiums paid.

•   Premiums are flexible — you can pay different amounts each month as long as it’s enough to cover fees and doesn’t go beyond an IRS limit.

•   Gains are locked in each year, which means you can’t lose the previous years’ gains. However, if the market is down the following year, it can decrease unless the policy has a built-in floor.

•   Because of the annual reset feature, you never need to make up any losses from prior years.

•   No mandatory distributions exist.

•   You can explore your tax benefits with your accountant or other financial advisor, and they may be significant for your situation.

•   You can borrow against this policy and, if you do, you typically won’t face negative tax consequences.

Recommended: Life Insurance Definitions

Cons of IUL Insurance

Challenges include:

•   An IUL is complicated and, to get the most benefits from this policy, you’ll need to understand how to maximize its value.

•   Although you can pay a minimal premium amount when you want, this can have a negative overall effect on the policy’s cash value.

•   Because the cost for the insurance portion depends on your rating, how much is insured and your age, the cost will go up over the years as you get older.

•   Although the rate is based on an index, policies come with a cap. So, during high index years, you likely won’t realize the full benefit because of this cap. On the flipside, however, many policies also have built-in floors to offset the cap.

•   Fees can take a big chunk out of the policy, causing you to lose much of its value.

•   If you don’t keep the policy in force, you may lose the death benefit (which is true of other types of policies), along with the extra money paid into the premiums.

Alternatives to IUL Insurance

Whether you’re not sold on IUL insurance or simply want to know what your other life insurance options are, here are some of the alternatives to indexed universal life insurance:

•   Adjustable life insurance: This combines aspects of term life insurance with whole life and provides policyholders with the flexibility to adjust the policy’s amount, term premiums and more. Adjustable life policies also come with a cash value component. A key benefit of adjustable life insurance is that you can make adjustments to your policy without the need to cancel the current policy or buy a new one.

•   Variable universal life insurance: Variable universal life is similar to IUL, as it is a permanent life insurance policy that has a cash value and flexible premiums. The investment portion comes with subaccounts and can resemble investing in mutual funds. When the market is doing well, this can benefit the policyholder, but when it’s not, significant losses can occur.

•   Standard universal life insurance: Then, of course, there are universal life insurance policies. These come with a fixed interest rate rather than one tied to an index.

•   Whole life insurance: Additionally, there’s the more basic whole life insurance policy with standard premiums. There is also a guaranteed death benefit and a cash value component.

•   Term life insurance: Then, life insurance at its simplest: term life insurance policies. These don’t come with cash value components or any real bells and whistles. These policies have a term limit (perhaps 10 to 20 years) and are more straightforward and affordable than other options, coming with a death benefit to beneficiaries when the covered individual dies while the policy is paid up and in force.

•   Current assumption whole life insurance: Another type of cash value insurance is called current assumption whole life (CAWL), and it has similarities to universal life insurance policies. Premiums are fixed for a certain period of time and, on predetermined dates, premiums are recalculated (and perhaps the death benefit is, as well). Plus, interest is handled in a way that’s similar to universal life.

Recommended: How to Buy Life Insurance

Is IUL Insurance Right for Me?

By comparing this overview of indexed universal life insurance with, say, term or whole life insurance, you can see that IUL insurance is quite complex. If, though, you’re earning a high income or want to explore long-term investment opportunities, it can make sense to consider whether the tax benefits associated with an IUL would be worthwhile.

For those who do consider moving forward with exploring indexed universal life insurance, it’s important to compare its pros or cons against those of other types of life insurance. Also take the time to research and compare different life insurance policies.


💡 Quick Tip: Term life insurance coverage can range from $100K to $8 million. As your life changes, you can increase or decrease your coverage.

The Takeaway

Although the question of “What is IUL?” is quite short, the answer isn’t. If this type of policy interests you, consider exploring it in more depth to ensure that you’re clear about its complexities.

SoFi has partnered with Ladder to offer competitive term life insurance policies that are quick to set up and easy to understand. Apply in just minutes and get an instant decision. As your circumstances change, you can update or cancel your policy with no fees and no hassles.

Explore your life insurance options with SoFi Protect.


Photo credit: iStock/DragonImages

Coverage and pricing is subject to eligibility and underwriting criteria.
Ladder Insurance Services, LLC (CA license # OK22568; AR license # 3000140372) distributes term life insurance products issued by multiple insurers- for further details see ladderlife.com. All insurance products are governed by the terms set forth in the applicable insurance policy. Each insurer has financial responsibility for its own products.
Ladder, SoFi and SoFi Agency are separate, independent entities and are not responsible for the financial condition, business, or legal obligations of the other, Social Finance, LLC (SoFi) and Social Finance Life Insurance Agency, LLC (SoFi Agency) do not issue, underwrite insurance or pay claims under Ladder Life™ policies. SoFi is compensated by Ladder for each issued term life policy.
SoFi Agency and its affiliates do not guarantee the services of any insurance company.
All services from Ladder Insurance Services, LLC are their own. Once you reach Ladder, SoFi is not involved and has no control over the products or services involved. The Ladder service is limited to documents and does not provide legal advice. Individual circumstances are unique and using documents provided is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice.


Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

SOPT0224007

Read more
How Much Does It Cost to Make a Will?

How Much Does It Cost to Make a Will?

With costs as low as $10, making a will doesn’t have to be expensive, but you may want to spend more to get exactly what you need.

Granted, the prospect of writing a will can feel boring, morbid, and as if it will be a big drain of time and money. While there’s no doubt that thinking about a world without you in it isn’t “fun,” the peace of mind that people can obtain from making a will, the right will, can be invaluable.

Whether you choose to go with an online template that will guide you through the how-to’s of creating a will or work with an attorney, it’s important to know your options. Let’s dive into that now and see how much making a will costs and which approach is best for you.

How Much Does It Cost to Make a Will?

The cost of a will varies from free to thousands of dollars, depending on whether you do it yourself or work with an attorney. Some people with a fairly straightforward situation (basic assets, one child) may find that an online template provides everything they need at a low cost. In general, however, people with high-net-worth or a complex personal situation, such as needing to provide for a disabled family member, may find it advantageous to work with an attorney.

You may wonder if you need a template at all. Can’t you just take pen to paper to share your wishes? In some states, the answer is yes: A handwritten will is legal. But there are good reasons to not write up a will on a piece of notebook paper. Not only can these take longer to go through probate — a legal process that vets the validity of a will — but a template may help make sure all bases are covered and legally valid.

There are templates online that are free, but some that are state-specific and go into greater depth (say, by guiding you through more questions about your situation) may cost from $40 up to over $100.

If you work with an attorney, you may pay $1,000 or more to create a will. But working with an attorney may be beneficial if you have a complex situation. For example, an attorney can help you create a trust, which can be one way to avoid probate and may provide tax advantages for your heirs. They may also have recommendations for the most tax-advantageous way to set up a will and can also answer any questions that may come up as you make the will.

Regardless of how you create a will, it’s also important to ensure that your will is legal in your state. This may mean having the will notarized or witnessed when you sign. It can also be a good idea to make several copies of the will, and let your executor know where the will can be found.

You also may need to update your will. You can do this via a codicil (this is akin to a PS to your will), but in many cases, it may make sense to create an entirely new will to avoid confusion. You may consider updating or redrafting your will whenever a major life event occurs, such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of a new child. If you’re working with a lawyer, ask them how they will handle potential changes and how much they will charge.


💡 Quick Tip: We all know it’s good to have a will in place, but who has the time? These days, you can create a complete and customized estate plan online in as little as 15 minutes.

The Cost to Have a Lawyer Write a Will

Having a lawyer write a will may be the most expensive option at $1,000 or more, depending on where you live and the complexity of the will. However, this path can have its benefits.

Creating an Estate Plan

Working with a lawyer can ensure you cover all bases and potentially create an estate plan. This can maximize tax-savings opportunities for your heirs. As part of this, a lawyer can be helpful in setting up a trust. A trust can be a tax-advantageous way to distribute assets upon your death and help avoid the possibly long and winding process of probate.

Negotiating a Large or Complicated Estate

You also may want a lawyer if you have a large or complicated estate, with a variety of assets, which could be investments, real estate, and the like. Also, if you have a complicated family situation, a lawyer can be very helpful in creating a will that addresses these situations. In this case, scenarios include divorce, remarriage, step-children, or complex (possibly contentious) relationships.

Developing End of Life Documents

When drawing up a will, a lawyer also can make sure that you have all end-of-life documents in place. While “will” can be used as a catchall term for end-of-life documents and directives, other important documents can include:

•   A medical power of attorney

•   A living will or advanced healthcare directive

•   Do-not-resuscitate orders

All of the above documents reflect what would happen if you were no longer able to advocate for yourself and needed someone to make medical decisions for you.

Before you work with a lawyer, make sure you’re clear on the fee structure: Will they charge by the hour? How much will it cost to update things in the future? Is there anything you can do on your own to help save money?

Recommended: What Happens If You Die Without a Will?

Cost Of Writing a Will Yourself

Online templates range from free to several hundred dollars, depending on the complexity and the range of documents provided. Online templates can help guide you through itemizing your assets and can be simple to update if necessary. Here are some details to note:

Online Templates Can Offer a Speed Advantage

Online templates may advertise that wills can be completed in 15 minutes or less. This can be true as long as you have relevant information at your fingertips. Prior to beginning a will (either online or with a pro), it can be helpful to itemize assets and discuss guardianship and executor plans with the people you hope to name prior to starting. This will make the process run more smoothly.

Online Templates May Need Witnessing

Once an online template is filled out, it will likely need to be signed and witnessed to be made legal. Keep this in mind: If you are thinking you can complete your will 100% online and don’t need to leave your home, you may be in for a surprise.

Some online services offer attorney services for an additional cost. This can be a hybrid option that allows you to have a lawyer answer any specific questions while doing the majority of the work yourself.

What’s the Difference Between a Trust and a Will?

You may see the terms trust and will used interchangeably. That’s wrong; a trust is not a will! A trust is a customized estate planning tool that can be helpful to heirs in addition to a will. If you hold assets such as real estate or have a positive net worth, a trust may make sense.

A trust can help your heirs:

•   Avoid probate, the legal (and sometimes lengthy) process in which property is distributed

•   Potentially limit tax implication of any gifts or inheritances

Trusts can be complex, but a fairly simple trust can be created through online templates. Having a trust can help ensure that your assets not only go to the people you intend them to go to, but that your heirs are provided for exactly in the way you intended. The time spent making the trust can pay off in peace of mind, both for you right now and for your heirs in the future.


💡 Quick Tip: It’s recommended that you update your will every 3-5 years, and after any major life event. With online estate planning, changes can be made in just a few minutes — no attorney required.

Does a Will Need to be Notarized?

You’ve taken the time, created a will, and printed it out. You’re done, right? Not so fast! A will usually does need to be signed and watched by a witness.

What’s more, while a will does not always need to be notarized to be valid, it may be in you and your beneficiaries’ best interests to do so. When a will is notarized, it is considered “self-proving,” which helps confirm that you had the mental capacity to create the will and were not under any duress. It proves the validity of the document and therefore can help avoid probate. Notarizing a will is typically a fairly minor expense of up to $15.

While it can be tempting to put off the notarization process (we know, it can be a hassle to find a notary nearby), getting it done immediately ensures that there are no loose ends if the worst were to happen unexpectedly. It can also be a good idea to make sure the will is printed out and put in a safe place, like a bank safe, and that your executor knows where to find it.

What Should You Never Put in a Will?

There are some things you want to sidestep when creating a will. Here are some considerations that can make the probate process more difficult.

•   Certain types of property, including property owned jointly, life insurance, or other accounts with a beneficiary already named.

•   Specific funeral or end of life wishes. The will may not be read until weeks or months after death.

•   “Rules” about who gets what. A will is not the place to put limitations on gifts, such as money only being available if someone were to marry or turn a certain age.

•   Providing money to pets. However, you can set up a trust to ensure that a pet is provided for.

•   Provisions for taking care of a dependent beneficiary. These kinds of long-term care needs can also best be set up in a trust.

In short, a will can’t cover all the what-ifs, but in many cases, a trust can do so. If you’re not sure how to appropriately manage your estate, consider consulting with a lawyer.

The Takeaway

Creating a will does not need to be expensive or time-consuming to be valid. While a trust may make sense for complex needs or if you have a positive net worth, having a will drawn up in the short term can cover your bases, ensure guardianship wishes are met if you have kids, and provide peace of mind now and in the future. Whether you spend $10 or over $1,000 creating one, if you have assets and/or dependents, now is a good time to act!

When you want to make things easier on your loved ones in the future, SoFi can help. We partnered with Trust & Will, the leading online estate planning platform, to give our members 15% off their trust, will, or guardianship. The forms are fast, secure, and easy to use.

Create a complete and customized estate plan in as little as 15 minutes.


Photo credit: iStock/fizkes

Insurance not available in all states.
Experian is a registered service mark of Experian Personal Insurance Agency, Inc.
Social Finance, LLC ("SoFi") is compensated by Experian for each customer who purchases a policy through Experian from the site.

Coverage and pricing is subject to eligibility and underwriting criteria.
Ladder Insurance Services, LLC (CA license # OK22568; AR license # 3000140372) distributes term life insurance products issued by multiple insurers- for further details see ladderlife.com. All insurance products are governed by the terms set forth in the applicable insurance policy. Each insurer has financial responsibility for its own products.
Ladder, SoFi and SoFi Agency are separate, independent entities and are not responsible for the financial condition, business, or legal obligations of the other, Social Finance, LLC (SoFi) and Social Finance Life Insurance Agency, LLC (SoFi Agency) do not issue, underwrite insurance or pay claims under Ladder Life™ policies. SoFi is compensated by Ladder for each issued term life policy.
SoFi Agency and its affiliates do not guarantee the services of any insurance company.
All services from Ladder Insurance Services, LLC are their own. Once you reach Ladder, SoFi is not involved and has no control over the products or services involved. The Ladder service is limited to documents and does not provide legal advice. Individual circumstances are unique and using documents provided is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice.


Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

SOPT0224006

Read more
What Is Supplemental Life Insurance?

What Is Supplemental Life Insurance?

Supplemental life insurance is typically an additional policy that you can purchase to augment the group life insurance policy obtained via your employer.

These policies can provide extra peace of mind when it comes to protecting your loved ones, but is more insurance always better? You may wonder whether purchasing this kind of policy is a good idea or not worth the added expense. Let’s take a closer look to see whether supplemental life insurance makes sense for your situation.

Understanding Supplemental Life Insurance

Supplemental life insurance is a policy taken out in addition to basic coverage, which might be term or permanent life insurance. You can often purchase a supplemental policy through an employer to augment what they offer as an employee benefit. However, these policies don’t have to be secured through your job. We’ll learn more about that in a minute.

Some of these policies come with a death benefit, a lump sum payment that goes to the beneficiaries you’ve named (the loved ones who will inherit the money). Others may be a different kind of policy; say, one that pays funds that are earmarked to pay for funeral expenses. Depending on the details of your life, these add-ons may be an inexpensive way to boost your protection and sense of security.


💡 Quick Tip: With life insurance, one size does not fit all. Policies can and should be tailored to fit your specific needs.

Do You Need Supplemental Life Insurance?

Deciding whether or not to buy a supplemental policy is a very personal decision. To help figure out the right answer for your situation, it may help to ask yourself and answer a few questions. Let’s consider some of those here.

Does Your Employer Provide Life Insurance?

Because supplemental insurance is meant to enhance the life insurance policies you already have, check to see if your employer offers basic life insurance as a benefit. If so, how much? Many times, employers offering this insurance will provide a multiple of the employee’s current salary. Other times, it’s significantly less — $10,000 to $25,000 worth of coverage is common. Those are figures that many people will find too low to provide the kind of protection they’d like.

If you feel you don’t have enough protection, you may want to look for ways to boost your coverage so that in a worst-case scenario, you know your loved ones will have enough money to cover their expenses. Perhaps your employer offers supplemental policies that will get you to the level of life insurance coverage that you desire. Otherwise, you can also look on the open market for primary or supplemental policies.

Have Your Compared Life Insurance Rates?

If you haven’t compared prices of life insurance rates in a while (or ever), you might want to give it a try. Just because an employer offers life insurance, including supplemental coverage, you may not want to buy it. You may discover that you can get enough life insurance through a standard policy without adding a supplemental one.

You can quickly get quotes by calling an insurance agent or, to save even more time, from a website that provides them from multiple companies. When looking at the quote that gives you the best coverage for the most affordable premiums, would you still need a supplemental policy? The answer may be no. There’s a good deal of competition in the marketplace and great deals to be found.

Recommended: How to Buy Life Insurance in 9 Steps

How Is Your Health?

First, let’s understand that your health rating is a key factor in buying life insurance on the open market. Rates tend to be lower when you are healthier and younger. Health is typically assessed by the insurer asking you questions about your medical status and possibly having you submit to a brief health exam that involves the collection of blood and urine samples.

While plenty of life insurance policies require health exams and/or medical records, many insurers also offer lab-free options that don’t require medical exams (although you’ll almost certainly need to answer health-related questions). These are often the kind employers offer employees. Typically, these policies are for people who fit into certain age groups and other categories in which they’re likely to be healthy. These lab-free policies are often available for up to $1 million.

Now that you know how this works, understand the implications of your health status. If you have an underlying health condition, are a smoker, or have other qualifying factors, you would probably pay more for life insurance if you went shopping on the open market. In these cases, buying a supplemental policy through your job could be a good way to get coverage at a relatively low cost.

Do You Need Portable Coverage?

Before you sign up for a supplemental policy, consider whether it’s portable. “Portability” is your ability to keep certain benefits if you switch your place of employment or leave the workforce entirely — in this case, your life insurance. If you’re thinking about changing jobs or have reason to believe that you may not work at your current employer for much longer, it’s important to know if your life insurance is portable.

How Much Supplemental Life Insurance Should You Buy?

A common recommendation is to carry 10 to 15 times your annual income in life insurance coverage. Your goal is to choose a policy that would replace the income you would have brought in if you weren’t around to provide for your family. So, if you multiply your salary by those numbers and then subtract what you have in your “regular” life insurance policy, that can be a starting point to determine how much supplemental insurance makes sense.

If you make $50,000 a year and multiply by 10 or 12, that’s $500,000 to $600,000 in coverage you want to purchase. (You might want to bump it up a bit to account for inflation.) So, if you have a term life insurance policy for $500,000, you might decide to get a supplemental policy for $200,000.

Now, factor in your outstanding debt. Life insurance payouts can be used to pay them off, including mortgage loans, car loans, student loans, credit cards, and so forth. So, if you have these debts, you can add their outstanding balances up and consider adding those amounts to your life insurance needs. If, for example, these debts total $300,000, you might bump up the supplement policy example above to $500,000.

Recommended: Life Insurance Definitions

Types of Supplemental Life Insurance

We’ve been focusing on one kind of supplemental insurance, a popular option that lets you increase the overall life insurance coverage you own. This kind of policy would pay a lump-sum death benefit to your beneficiaries. If you purchase this, it’s an employee benefit that can increase the amount of coverage that you own (although you may be responsible for part of all of those premiums albeit at a group rate).

But let’s consider some other possibilities that may be offered:

•   Supplemental spouse life insurance. This kind of insurance provides a death benefit if the employee’s spouse dies and may also be called supplemental family life insurance. Employees may also have the option to buy supplemental child life insurance to cover the death of a child or other dependent who qualifies.

•   Accidental death and dismemberment. This provides coverage to your beneficiaries if you are killed or lose physical function in a type of accident that’s covered in the policy. Depending on the kind of work you do or the pastimes you pursue, this may or may not suit your needs. With AD&D insurance, you could receive a benefit, say, if you were to lose your eyesight, your hearing, or limb in an accident. But it won’t provide any benefit if you die due to other medical conditions, which are more likely to occur.

•   Final expenses. These policies pay a small benefit (typically between $5,000 and $35,000) to cover end-of-life expenses, such as funeral and burial costs. Some people like to have this kind of coverage, which means your loved ones wouldn’t have to pay out of pocket for these charges.

How Much Coverage Can You Get Through Work?

It’s worthwhile to evaluate what life insurance options are available through your work. Employers may offer lower rates since they get a group insurance rate. Also, it’s also possible that your employer would pay part of your premiums. It’s typically easier to get insured through a group plan. While you may need to answer medical questions, it’s less likely that you’ll need a medical exam for group insurance.

Group plans through your employer, though, are usually not portable. This means that if you leave that employer, the coverage ends and then you’ll need to shop around again — now at an older (although not necessarily old) age and perhaps with new health conditions. Plus, these plans aren’t as customizable as you might get on your own.

How Much Does Supplemental Life Insurance Cost?

If your employer offers this benefit as part of a group policy, the cost may be minimal, especially if the workplace subsidizes the premiums.

Otherwise, it can make sense to get personalized quotes, given that age, gender, health conditions, amount of the policy, term, and more can impact the price. There are online calculators that can help you do the math and see how the numbers add up.


💡 Quick Tip: Term life insurance coverage can range from $100K to $8 million. As your life changes, you can increase or decrease your coverage.

The Takeaway

To recap: What is supplemental life insurance? It’s a policy that enhances a person’s primary life insurance policy. It helps to ensure that they have enough financial benefit to protect their loved ones if they weren’t there to provide for them.

While supplemental policies through your employer can be affordable, they may not deliver the level of coverage you need. Take a close look at your options, and take advantage of the simple online tools that can help you find the kind of policy you need at the right price.

SoFi has partnered with Ladder to offer competitive term life insurance policies that are quick to set up and easy to understand. Apply in just minutes and get an instant decision. As your circumstances change, you can update or cancel your policy with no fees and no hassles.


Explore your life insurance options with SoFi Protect.


Photo credit: iStock/Kemal Yildirim

Coverage and pricing is subject to eligibility and underwriting criteria.
Ladder Insurance Services, LLC (CA license # OK22568; AR license # 3000140372) distributes term life insurance products issued by multiple insurers- for further details see ladderlife.com. All insurance products are governed by the terms set forth in the applicable insurance policy. Each insurer has financial responsibility for its own products.
Ladder, SoFi and SoFi Agency are separate, independent entities and are not responsible for the financial condition, business, or legal obligations of the other, Social Finance, LLC (SoFi) and Social Finance Life Insurance Agency, LLC (SoFi Agency) do not issue, underwrite insurance or pay claims under Ladder Life™ policies. SoFi is compensated by Ladder for each issued term life policy.
SoFi Agency and its affiliates do not guarantee the services of any insurance company.
All services from Ladder Insurance Services, LLC are their own. Once you reach Ladder, SoFi is not involved and has no control over the products or services involved. The Ladder service is limited to documents and does not provide legal advice. Individual circumstances are unique and using documents provided is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

SOPT0224003

Read more
Do I Need Uninsured Motorist Insurance?

What Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

Uninsured motorist coverage shields you from having to pay for injuries and property damage in accidents that weren’t your fault and were caused by an uninsured driver.

According to the Insurance Research Council, 14.0% of motorists on the road are uninsured. Purchasing uninsured motorist coverage reduces the likelihood that you’ll have to pay out of pocket if you’re involved in an accident caused by one of these irresponsible drivers.

It’s generally a good idea to add uninsured motorist coverage to your auto insurance policy, as it’s fairly inexpensive, usually only costing an extra $5 – $10 a month, per vehicle, for policyholders with clean driving histories. Below, we give you the scoop on the different kinds of uninsured motorist coverage and what these policies entail.

Breaking Down Uninsured Motorist Coverage Variations

There are two main kinds of uninsured motorist coverage. Similar to your standard auto insurance policy’s collision and bodily injury coverage, this kind of policy breaks down into uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage and uninsured motorist property damage coverage.

•   Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage: Covers your party’s medical expenses and related costs in accidents caused by uninsured drivers.

•   Uninsured motorist property damage coverage: Covers your repair bills and related costs in accidents caused by uninsured drivers.

Bodily injury and property damage coverage for uninsured motorists are sometimes packaged and sold together when you purchase uninsured motorist insurance. However, this isn’t the case with all policies; check with your insurance provider to know for sure. Now, let’s take a closer look at each of these kinds of coverage.

Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage (UMBI)

Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage (UMBI) pays for the cost of medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and funeral costs (though we hope that is never needed) in the event an uninsured driver causes an accident in which you’re the victim.

In some instances, this policy may pay out if you, as a pedestrian or bicyclist, are involved in an accident caused by an uninsured driver. Check with your insurance provider to confirm whether this might be covered.

UMBI typically does not have a deductible to meet; you would get full reimbursement of the costs.

Uninsured Motorist Property Damage Coverage (UMPD)

Uninsured motorist property damage coverage (UMPD) pays for the cost of repair bills for either your vehicle or property in the event either is involved in an accident caused by an uninsured driver.

Unlike bodily injury coverage, UMPD often requires the payment of a deductible when used. This is usually set by state law and typically is between $100 and $1,000.


💡 Quick Tip: If your car is paid off and worth only a few thousand dollars, consider updating your car insurance: You might choose to opt out of collision coverage and double down on liability.

Uninsured vs Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Here’s another kind of coverage you should know about: underinsured motorist coverage, which helps cover your costs if you’re involved in an accident where the party at fault has insufficient insurance coverage to pay for your medical costs.

Underinsured motorist coverage differs from uninsured motorist coverage in that it’s designed to cover any shortfalls in your costs due to the underinsured motorist’s inadequate insurance policy. By contrast, uninsured motorist coverage covers your bills due to the uninsured driver’s failure to purchase insurance.

Similar to uninsured motorist coverage, underinsured motorist coverage also comes in bodily injury and property damage variants. Both bodily injury and property damage coverage is usually packaged and sold together, though insurance policies may vary.

Underinsured motorist coverage is sold separately from uninsured motorist coverage, and states can have different coverage requirements for each. Check with your insurance provider to verify whether you need to purchase these separately.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage Limits

Your auto insurance quote will typically break down your uninsured motorist coverage limits into two numbers: a smaller dollar figure followed by a larger dollar figure, separated by a slash. For example, $100,000/$300,000.

This can also be expressed as follows:

•   $100,000 per person

•   $300,000 per accident

These two numbers represent the per person and per accident coverage limits of your uninsured motorist insurance. The per person limit is the maximum your insurance company will pay for any single individual injured in a covered accident. Conversely, the per accident limit is the maximum your insurance company will pay for a covered accident, regardless of how many injured people are in your party.

How Uninsured Motorist Coverage Limits Work

If you’re thinking, “But what exactly does that mean?” we hear you. Let’s spell out how this coverage would work. If you have a family of five that’s riding in a car and it gets hit by an uninsured driver, the maximum amount your insurance company will pay for their cumulative medical bills is $300,000, despite each individual’s coverage limit being $100,000.

If you’re ever involved in an accident caused by an uninsured driver where your costs exceed your coverage limits, in most cases, your health insurance policy will usually kick in to cover the balance. Consult your insurance providers for the specifics on your policies.

Recommended: How Much Auto Insurance Do I Really Need?

How Much Uninsured Motorist Coverage Do I Need?

The answer depends on whether your state requires uninsured motorist coverage. If it does, you must buy at least the state’s minimum (for more details, see below). Typically, this amount will match your liability coverage amounts. If your state does not require this kind of coverage, consider variables like the healthcare costs in your state and how much your vehicle is worth. Generally, uninsured motorist coverage is fairly affordable and is a worthy investment for some peace of mind.

According to the Insurance Research Council, approximately one in seven drivers on the road are uninsured. This figure is even higher in states like Mississippi and Michigan, where over 25% of drivers on the road are estimated to be uninsured.

Based on those figures, residents of higher risk states may be well-served by purchasing uninsured motorist coverage, while it might not be as high of a priority for residents of lower-risk states, like Massachusetts or New Jersey, where 3.5% and 3.1% of drivers respectively are estimated to be uninsured.

Now, let’s circle back to the states that do require this kind of policy. The table below lists the regulations regarding the minimum required uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage for each state.

Recommended: What Does Liability Auto Insurance Typically Cover?

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage Requirements by State

Let’s take a look at the guidelines in every state, so you can see how much coverage may be required where you live. In each category, the amount shown is per person/per accident. When there is not a figure in an area of the chart, that means the insurance isn’t required.

State

Uninsured Bodily Injury

Uninsured Property Damage

Underinsured Bodily Injury

Underinsured Property Damage

Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut $25,000/$50,000 $25,000/$50,000
Delaware
District of Columbia $25,000/$50,000 $5,000
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois $25,000/$50,000 $25,000/$50,000
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas $25,000/$50,000 $25,000/$50,000
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine $50,000/$100,000 $50,000/$100,000
Maryland $30,000/$60,000 $15,000 $30,000/$60,000 $15,000
Massachusetts $20,000/$40,000
Michigan
Minnesota $25,000/$50,000 $25,000/$50,000
Mississippi
Missouri $25,000/$50,000
Montana
Nebraska $25,000/$50,000 $25,000/$50,000
Nevada
New Hampshire* $25,000/$50,000 $25,000 $25,000/$50,000 $25,000
New Jersey $15,000/$30,000
New York $25,000/$50,000
North Carolina $30,000/$60,000 $25,000 $30,000/$60,000 $25,000
North Dakota $25,000/$50,000 $25,000/$50,000
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon $25,000/$50,000
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina $25,000/$50,000 $25,000
South Dakota $25,000/$50,000 $25,000/$50,000
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont $50,000/$100,000 $10,000 $50,000/$100,000 $10,000
Virginia* $30,000/$60,000 $25,000 $30,000/$60,000 $25,000
Washington
West Virginia $25,000/$50,000 $25,000
Wisconsin $25,000/$50,000
Wyoming

*New Hampshire and Virginia do not require drivers to purchase auto insurance, but drivers who do choose to purchase auto insurance must have at least the minimum uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage amounts listed.

Recommended: 5 Steps to Switching Your Car Insurance

How Much Does Uninsured Motorist Coverage Cost?

Depending on how much uninsured motorist coverage you choose to purchase and your personal driving habits, your costs could be as little as $5 to $10 per month. This figure also tends to vary widely based on the overall percentage of uninsured motorists in your area, according to national insurance data.

Insurance premiums vary widely across drivers, states, and even insurance providers, so make sure you check around for a personalized quote.


💡 Quick Tip: Saving money on your fixed costs isn’t always easy. One exception is auto insurance. Shopping around for a better deal really can pay off.

The Takeaway

The prospect of being in an accident caused by an uninsured driver is a real concern, given the number of these motorists on the road. Adding uninsured motorist coverage to your auto insurance policy may be a good idea. In some states, it may even be required by law. For a relatively low cost, you can protect yourself from the possibility of being left with bills because another driver didn’t have enough insurance. The right package of car insurance policies is one way to protect yourself from unexpected circumstances.

When you’re ready to shop for auto insurance, SoFi can help. Our online auto insurance comparison tool lets you see quotes from a network of top insurance providers within minutes, saving you time and hassle.

SoFi brings you real rates, with no bait and switch.


Photo credit: iStock/RyanJLane

Insurance not available in all states.
Experian is a registered service mark of Experian Personal Insurance Agency, Inc.
Social Finance, LLC ("SoFi") is compensated by Experian for each customer who purchases a policy through Experian from the site.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

SOPT0224004

Read more
How Much Is Renters Insurance? Average Cost in 2022

How Much Is Renters Insurance? Average Cost in 2024

The Insurance Information Institute cites that the average cost of renters insurance across the United States is about $173 per year, according to their most recent data. That said, renters insurance premiums can vary widely based on where you live, your claims history, and your chosen coverage limits, among other factors.

Let’s take a look at renters insurance and what factors go into its cost.

What Is Renters Insurance?

Renters insurance policies offer similar coverage to homeowners insurance. The goal is to reimburse you for any losses that you suffer in an emergency. Imagine if you were renting a house and a leak flooded your clothing closet, destroying your entire wardrobe. Or if a burglar broke in while you were out and made off with your laptop and other electronics. These losses would be one level of pain. Not having insurance that could help you afford replacements would only add a whole other level to that!

It’s generally a good idea to purchase a renters insurance policy if you’re renting a home, regardless of whether it’s an apartment or a house. This holds true even if you are renting an apartment in a private home rather than an apartment complex. Your landlord may have homeowners insurance that is designed to reimburse them in the event of say, damage or a robbery. This however generally does not cover your assets in the event of a loss.


💡 Quick Tip: Online renters insurance can cover your belongings not just at home but also in your car and on vacation.

Average Cost of Renters Insurance by State

We’ve included the average annual renters insurance premiums for each state in the table below. This data is based on the latest figures from the Insurance Information Institute, a nonprofit organization that collects and shares data related to the insurance industry.

State

Average annual premium

Alabama $225.00
Alaska $186.00
Arizona $164.00
Arkansas $210.00
California $171.00
Colorado $161.00
Connecticut $180.00
Delaware $151.00
D.C. $159.00
Florida $182.00
Georgia $212.00
Hawaii $176.00
Idaho $148.00
Illinois $157.00
Indiana $164.00
Iowa $136.00
Kansas $162.00
Kentucky $157.00
Louisiana $247.00
Maine $148.00
Maryland $160.00
Massachusetts $172.00
Michigan $181.00
Minnesota $134.00
Mississippi $256.00
Missouri $172.00
Montana $153.00
Nebraska $143.00
Nevada $179.00
New Hampshire $147.00
New Jersey $154.00
New Mexico $180.00
New York $173.00
North Carolina $160.00
North Dakota $116.00
Ohio $162.00
Oklahoma $226.00
Oregon $154.00
Pennsylvania $152.00
Rhode Island $183.00
South Carolina $186.00
South Dakota $118.00
Tennessee $187.00
Texas $216.00
Utah $147.00
Vermont $151.00
Virginia $152.00
Washington $158.00
West Virginia $179.00
Wisconsin $128.00
Wyoming $146.00
United States average $173.00

Top 5 Most Expensive States for Renters Insurance

According to data from the Insurance Information Institute, the most expensive state for renters insurance in the nation is Mississippi. Renters in the Magnolia State pay an average of $256 per year for renter’s insurance. Let’s look at the top five:

State

Average annual premium

State ranking by cost

Mississippi $256.00 1
Louisiana $236.00 2
Oklahoma $226.00 3
Alabama $225.00 4
Texas $216.00 5

Mississippi and Louisiana are expensive states in terms of renters insurance because of their proximity to the coast. Being right on the Gulf Coast means residents are often vulnerable since hurricanes may first make landfall in these areas. The risk of loss is higher than inland.

Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana all lie in the infamous “Tornado Alley,” which is a strip of states, bordered by the Dakotas to the north and Texas to the south, that is historically prone to fiercely damaging tornadoes. Combined, these factors have resulted in higher renters insurance premiums due to each location’s heightened susceptibility to wind and storm damage.

Top 5 Least Expensive States for Renters Insurance

North Dakota is the least expensive state for renters insurance in the United States, according to data gathered by the Insurance Information Institute. North Dakotans pay an average of $116 per year for renters insurance coverage.

State

Average annual premium

North Dakota $116.00
South Dakota $118.00
Wisconsin $128.00
Minnesota $134.00
Iowa $136.00

In general, renters policies are lower in areas that aren’t subject to extreme weather (like hurricanes and tornadoes) and that have low crime rates.

What Factors Determine Cost of Renters Insurance?

The cost of your renters insurance may be influenced by a multitude of factors, the most prominent being the following:

•   Coverage limits

•   Deductible

•   Claims history

•   Location

•   Pets

•   Added coverage

Understanding these variables can go a long way towards reducing your costs and helping you choose the renters insurance policy that best suits your needs.

Coverage Limits

This is one of the key factors impacting the costs that you can control. Most insurance companies will give you a choice between higher and lower limits on your renter’s insurance policy.

Coverage limits are the maximum amounts an insurer is willing to pay in the event of a covered claim. There are different kinds of coverage (more on that below), and the limits offered usually range from as low as $10,000 in personal property coverage (the items in your home that could be damaged or lost) to as high as $500,000 in liability coverage (this be tapped if someone got injured at your house).

Generally speaking, the more insurance coverage you need, the higher your costs.

Deductible

The deductible is the other major component of your renter’s insurance costs that you can influence. In the event you file a claim, the deductible is the amount you agree to first pay out of pocket before renters insurance will kick in.

Your renters insurance deductible transfers risk from the insurer to you, when it comes to losses incurred in a covered claim. Consequently, insurers are willing to charge you a lower premium if you opt for a higher deductible, as this reduces how much they need to pay out. As you might guess, if you want a low deductible, so you would pay as little out of pocket as possible, your rates will be higher.

Depending on your insurance provider, your optional deductible will usually range anywhere from $0 to $2,000. In some instances, insurance providers will allow you to pick your deductible as a percentage of your total insurance limit, for example, if your policy limit is $10,000 and your deductible allotment is 10%, your deductible will effectively be $1,000 for each claim filed.

Claims History

Similar to your FICO score, insurance companies use what’s called a “CLUE” report (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) to track your history when it comes to filing insurance claims. This report contains information regarding all insurance claims filed within the past 5 to 7 years, regardless of whether you move or change insurer.

Repeated claims with hefty payouts can be a red flag for insurers and result in a hike to your insurance premiums. Beware that even claims filed under other types of insurance policies, like homeowners insurance, can impact your renters insurance premium.

Location

You know that saying about the three most important things in real estate are location, location, location? Well, in terms of renters insurance, location isn’t the only thing, but it’s a major variable in terms of how much you will pay. Are you renting a cabin in the woods, in a low-crime rural area? Or are you moving into an apartment in the middle of a major city, where robberies are common? Or are you perhaps planning on signing a lease for the sweetest beach shack, just steps from the shore? The location of your rental will impact how expensive your premium is.

Behind the scenes, insurance actuaries rely on complex formulas to price your premium; these take many factors into account, including the risk of natural disasters, crime, and fire, among other factors.

Depending on how risky the insurer perceives your area to be, expect to be charged a higher premium if you live in an area that’s especially prone to crime or natural disasters.

Pets

While we all love our pet pals, it’s fairly commonplace for pet owners to be charged higher premiums if they live with a furry friend. Regardless of how sweet your pet may be, insurers deem pets a liability risk, particularly when it comes to things like bites, scratches, and damage to personal property. Your renters policy will potentially pay out if your critter bites a guest or even nips someone while you are walking it in the lobby of your apartment building.

In some instances, insurers may be unwilling to insure certain types of pets; these are typically certain breeds of dogs or exotic animals deemed “higher risk.” Check with your insurer to verify whether or not your pet is covered under your renters insurance policy.

Added Coverage

Your policy will likely include standard coverage for personal property, liability, and loss of use (meaning expenses incurred if you can’t live in your usual dwelling) offered through your standard rental insurance policy. In addition, many insurers offer a suite of optional coverages, riders, and endorsements that you can tack onto your renter’s insurance policy to best suit your needs.

Naturally, added coverage comes with added cost. However, as renters insurance is fairly affordable, it usually adds only a few dollars a month.

Depending on your personal assets, it may be worthwhile to consider some of these optional coverages. Some of the most common add-ons/endorsements/riders offered through insurers are as follows:

•   Scheduled personal property: This ups the coverage limit for a specific named item or items that would fail to be fully covered under the policy limits of your standard renters insurance.

•   Replacement cost: Typically, an insurance policy will reimburse you for the actual cash value of an item. So if your 5-year-old laptop is stolen or destroyed, you’d be paid the current value of it. With replacement cost coverage, the depreciation is eliminated from the calculation of your property’s value, resulting in a higher payout in a covered claim.

•   At-home business: This covers damages to any business equipment you have at home that isn’t covered under a standard renters policy.

•   Pet damage: This sometimes allows you to add coverage for property damage and liability caused by pets that isn’t covered under your standard renters policy. Exclusions may apply for specific breeds or types of pets.

•   Earthquake coverage: This covers damage to your property caused by an earthquake, which isn’t typically covered under renter’s insurance.

•   Identity theft: This covers costs incurred if you’re ever the victim of identity theft, as well as fees for expert assistance when it comes to restoring your identity and resolving any fraudulent activity.

What’s Covered by Renters Insurance

The majority of renters insurance policies provide the following standard coverages:

•   Personal property: This covers any loss or damage to your possessions due to a covered event, such as fire or theft.

•   Liability: This covers any property damage or bodily injury costs that you’re found liable for in the event of a covered claim.

•   Loss of use: Also known as “additional living expenses”, this covers the costs of temporary housing in the event your rental is rendered unlivable due to a covered loss.

•   Medical payments to others: This covers the medical costs of guests that are injured on your property. Unlike liability insurance, this does not require you to be legally liable for any injuries.

Most insurance providers will allow you to adjust the limits on these coverages to suit your needs. Keep in mind, this will likely impact your renters insurance costs; more coverage will probably mean higher premiums.

Recommended: What Does Renters Insurance Cover?

Do You Need Renters Insurance?

Legally, you are not required to purchase renters insurance. However it’s advisable for most individuals to purchase renters insurance, as your landlord’s homeowners insurance policy will not cover any losses or damage to your personal property; nor will it typically cover any liability for bodily injury or property damage that occurs while the property is under lease.

Certain rental properties will require you to purchase and maintain an adequate renters insurance policy as part of your lease agreement. Make sure to check with your landlord to fully understand what your contract requires.


💡 Quick Tip: Did you know that, in most states, landlords can require tenants to carry a renters insurance policy? Fortunately, the average monthly cost is just $15.

Are There Ways to Save on Renters Insurance?

There are a variety of ways you can save on your renters insurance costs, these include bundling your insurance policies under one insurer, increasing the size of your deductible, and generally staying safe and claim-free. Here’s a closer look:

•   Bundle your insurance policies: Most insurance companies offer discounts for purchasing multiple policies through the same company. Purchasing renters insurance in tandem with other policies, like life or auto insurance, can result in cumulative discounts across all your insurance policies.

•   Increase your deductible: Raising the amount of your deductible increases your share of the costs in the event of a covered claim and consequently can lower the cost of your premiums.

•   Pay your entire premium at once: Some insurance companies offer a discount for paying your entire premium upfront as one annual payment rather than in monthly or quarterly installments. Check with your provider to see if they offer lump sum payment discounts.

The Takeaway

Renters insurance is relatively inexpensive when compared to other types of coverage, like homeowners, auto, or health insurance. However, it can prove invaluable in the event of any emergency that occurs on your rental property.

It’s a good idea to purchase a renters insurance policy when renting a home. Remember that your landlord’s homeowners insurance policy typically only covers their interests and generally will not reimburse your costs in the event of any incidents. Imagine losing all your possessions, or even just all of your clothes, to a fire. Or having a burglar break in and steal your electronics. Renters insurance can help minimize the pain by helping pay for you to replace what you’ve lost. That kind of peace of mind is well worth the usually inexpensive premiums these policies charge.

The Takeaway

Renters insurance is relatively inexpensive when compared to other types of coverage, like homeowners, auto, or health insurance. However, it can prove invaluable in the event of any emergency that occurs on your rental property.

It’s a good idea to purchase a renters insurance policy when renting a home. Remember that your landlord’s homeowners insurance policy typically only covers their interests and generally will not reimburse your costs in the event of any incidents. Imagine losing all your possessions, or even just all of your clothes, to a fire. Or having a burglar break in and steal your electronics. Renters insurance can help minimize the pain by helping pay for you to replace what you’ve lost. That kind of peace of mind is well worth the usually inexpensive premiums these policies charge.

Looking to protect your belongings? SoFi has partnered with Lemonade to offer renters insurance. Policies are easy to understand and apply for, with instant quotes available. Prices start at just $5 per month.

Explore renters insurance options offered through SoFi via Experian.


Photo credit: iStock/dragana991

Insurance not available in all states.
Experian is a registered service mark of Experian Personal Insurance Agency, Inc.
Social Finance, LLC ("SoFi") is compensated by Experian for each customer who purchases a policy through Experian from the site.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

SOPT0224001

Read more
TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender