Which Insurance Types Do You Really Need? Here Are 6 to Consider

October 27, 2023 · 7 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

Which Insurance Types Do You Really Need? Here Are 6 to Consider

These days, you can insure almost anything. Did you know, for example, that Julia Roberts has insurance for her teeth, and before Daniel Craig filmed a James Bond movie, he insured his entire body? While you probably don’t need to insure any of your body parts for millions of dollars, you might find yourself wondering when you should buy life insurance, or whether renter’s insurance is really necessary.

To help you decide on the right type and amount of coverage, we’ve broken down which kinds of insurance you will most likely need (other than health insurance, of course).

1. Life insurance

Life insurance is about more than just financing your funeral. It also allows your family to keep paying the bills if something happens to you.

People often think they don’t need life insurance if they don’t have dependents. But if you have debt such as student loans that someone has co-signed, your life insurance can be used to pay off your loans.

It’s common for employers to offer life insurance as part of their benefits package, but it’s worth noting that the life insurance your employer offers may not be enough, especially if you have dependents. Ideally, your life insurance payout should be enough to invest and yield returns that could replace your income annually. For example, if you assume that you’ll get a 5% return on the money you invest, you would need $1 million in coverage to replace a $50,000 income.

Here’s an overview of some of the most common life insurance options you might consider.

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance is the simplest and most common form of life insurance. It covers your life for a specific period of time, and pays only if your death occurs during the term. This timeframe is typically anywhere from one to thirty years, the longer the term the higher the premium. Term life insurance can be more affordable than other types of life insurance.

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

Whole Life Insurance

Whole life insurance covers you for your entire life. If you make consistent payments toward your policy, you’ll build a cash reserve for your family upon your death.

Universal Life Insurance

In exchange for premiums, universal life insurance can provide coverage for as long as the policyholder is alive, and some policies also accrue cash value. When the policyholder dies, their beneficiaries typically receive a tax-free death benefit in the amount specified by the policy.

Indexed Universal Life Insurance

Indexed universal life insurance (IUL) gives policyholders the option to put money towards either a fixed account or an equity index account. Index accounts with universal life policies often include well-known indexes and can be a good option if you’d like to accumulate tax-deferred cash as well as maintain a set amount of money in a fixed account.

2. Disability Income Insurance

Disability income insurance, also referred to as disability insurance, replaces a portion of your salary if you become disabled. Some employers don’t offer disability insurance, but even if yours does, you may want to consider a supplementary policy to top up the amount that you receive.

Depending on the policy, disability insurance kicks in when you become partially, completely, temporarily, or permanently disabled. Keep in mind that there is often a waiting period before benefits start, which could range from one month to a year, depending on your policy and whether you have short-term or long-term disability insurance. The longer the waiting period on your policy, the cheaper your premiums often are.

If you have to take a job that pays less because of a disability, some policies may pay you part of the difference.

Note that disability insurance is expensive, often between 1% and 3% of your salary, and many organizations offer it as a benefit. If you’re evaluating offers between two employers, it’s worth factoring in how valuable this type of insurance is to you.

3. Long-Term Care Insurance

If you’re considering a nursing home, day care, home health aide, or other type of long-term care, be prepared to pay. A Genworth survey found that the average price of a private room in a nursing home is $9,034 a month. A typical assisted living facility charges around $4,500 a month, while a home health aide runs $5,148 a month.

To ensure you can foot the bill, the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance recommends buying a policy in your mid-50s to qualify for the best premiums. Benefits kick in when someone isn’t able to take care of everyday activities or suffers from severe cognitive impairments. Policies vary by the specific level of impairment, the type of services provided, and the length of time the covered person lives after becoming impaired.

Depending on your policy, your benefits may not start until up to 90 days after impairment, and some may require that you receive paid care in the meantime.

Recommended: 8 Popular Types of Life Insurance for Any Age

4. Car Insurance

If you own or lease a car, car insurance is a must. But there are different kinds to consider.

Collision and comprehensive insurance will cover damage to your car and can help replace it if it’s been stolen.

Liability insurance covers you if you get sued after causing an accident. There are three maximum liability limits you can get in a car insurance policy: bodily injury per person in a given accident, bodily injury for all injuries in a given accident, and personal property damage in a given accident. Each state requires different insurance minimums by law.

However, you may want higher limits than the minimum. You may be able to save money on collision and comprehensive coverage by getting a higher deductible of $500 or $1,000. If you drive a car that’s worth less than $1,000, you may want to consider dropping collision and comprehensive, though you’ll still need liability.

💡 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.

5. Homeowners or Renter’s Insurance

Homeowners insurance covers damages to your home or theft of personal possessions. It also includes liability insurance to cover accidents that happen on your property. However, it excludes things like floods, earthquakes, and the (hopefully unlikely) event of war.

You should have at least enough insurance to cover the replacement value of your home and possessions. This usually means getting guaranteed (or extended) replacement cost coverage. That’s different from actual cash value coverage, which covers you for the current value of your possessions.

If you’re renting instead of buying, renter’s insurance is similar, but only covers your possessions and personal liability for damages. It’s worth having in case you leave the water on and accidentally flood your kitchen. The minimum deductible for tenant or homeowner’s insurance is usually $500, but according to the Insurance Information Institute, raising the deductible could save you money.

One important element for both of these is liability insurance. This helps protect you against lawsuits, and covers things like people slipping and falling on your property. One hundred thousand dollars of liability coverage is a fairly standard amount.

Recommended: How Much Homeowners Insurance Do You Need?

6. Umbrella Liability Coverage

Umbrella coverage is essentially extra liability insurance, and most importantly, it protects you and your assets in the event of a lawsuit. It covers you beyond the limits of your car or home liability coverage. For example, umbrella coverage will protect you from libel, slander and false imprisonment.

Often it is more economical to get an umbrella policy rather than getting excess home or car liability coverage. It’s a good idea to coordinate car, home, and liability coverages. After all, you wouldn’t typically have a $100,000 deductible on your umbrella policy if your car and homeowner’s insurance have $100,000 of coverage.

The first $1 million in umbrella coverage typically costs about $150 to $300 a year, which is often less than what most people would pay for additional coverage in that amount. As your income grows and you accumulate assets, you may want to consider raising the limit.

The Takeaway

Insurance can offer peace of mind and a degree of financial security. But the type and amount of coverage you need will depend on a number of factors, including your lifestyle, health, budget, and financial goals.

When the unexpected happens, it’s good to know you have a plan to protect your loved ones and your finances. SoFi has teamed up with some of the best insurance companies in the industry to provide members with fast, easy, and reliable insurance.

Find affordable auto, life, homeowners, and renters insurance with SoFi Protect.

Photo credit: iStock/urbazon

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.

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.


All your finances.
All in one app.

SoFi QR code, Download now, scan this with your phone’s camera

All your finances.
All in one app.

App Store rating

SoFi iOS App, Download on the App Store
SoFi Android App, Get it on Google Play

TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender