7 types of insurance policies you do and don’t need

Stay covered, but only for what you need.

Article published: May 31, 2024

By: Robert Bain, CLTC® Insurance Director

While insurance may not be exciting, it is important. Looking at the expensive premiums and complicated policies, it can be tempting to forgo buying insurance. With a different type of insurance policy for everything, it is easy to think you’ll never need the coverage. But sometimes, disaster strikes when you least expect it, and to avoid significant financial hardships, you’re going to need insurance.

At the same time, not every insurance policy is worth the premium payments – especially when there’s overlap with your existing plans or little likelihood of the specific circumstances it covers. So, which policies do you actually need for financial protection, and which ones will cost you more in the long term?

To help you obtain comprehensive coverage without excessive costs, here are the seven types of insurance you do and don’t need:

7 types of insurance policies you need

1. Health insurance

While health insurance has become increasingly complicated over the last few years, it’s essential. An unexpected medical event can cause severe financial issues and even lead to potential bankruptcy. And as inflation rises, so do medical expenses, with a significant uptick of 3.1% in January 2023.1 Having a health insurance plan in place can not only protect you from potential financial loss due to an emergency, but it can also save you money on routine checkups.

2. Life insurance

There are many forms of life insurance, but the most basic and least expensive is term life insurance. This pays beneficiaries a specific amount of money if you die within the time period set in the policy.

In contrast to term insurance, there’s also permanent life insurance, which is designed to last for as long as you live, provided you continually make the premium payments.

Individuals should purchase life insurance based on their specific needs. For instance, someone with minors might need to purchase a higher amount of coverage to help ensure their children’s upbringing costs are covered in the event of their death.

3. Disability insurance

Disability insurance replaces a portion of your salary if you became temporarily or permanently disabled. While you might not think it’s important to consider, around 25% of today’s young workers will become disabled before the age of 67.2 Meanwhile, 35% of the private sector workforce has no disability insurance policy in place.2 There are a lot of nuances to this type of insurance regarding when you’d be able to receive compensation and under what circumstances. Make sure you’ve done your due diligence prior to purchasing.

4. Long-term care insurance

As many as 70% of people aged 65 and older will need some kind of long-term care in their life.3 Yet, the average annual cost of a private room in a nursing home in the United States is $108,405 and is expected to jump to $141,444 by 2030.4 Will you be able to afford this? Long-term care insurance is intended to help cover the cost of care received for home care, or in facilities like assisted living and nursing homes. When deciding between policies, look at the assets you have outside the insurance that could possibly pay for your care. Of course, you don’t want long-term care expenses eating into your retirement funds.

5. Homeowners insurance

Your home might be the biggest purchase you’ll ever make – don’t you want to protect it? Homeowners insurance pays for damage to your house and often provides the necessary funds for temporary accommodations while your home is being repaired. A homeowners policy will be required while you have a mortgage, but it’s still important to maintain once your home is paid for.

6. Umbrella liability insurance

This coverage extends the liability protection provided on your “underlying policies,” like homeowners and auto insurance. You can purchase additional coverage in million-dollar increments.

7. Automobile insurance

Approximately 5.25 million car crashes occur in the U.S. each year, according to recent data.5 Accidents happen, and it’s crucial to have car insurance for when they do. Beyond just collision coverage for your vehicle, auto insurance should also pay for the other party’s damage in the event of an accident for which you’re found to be at fault.

7 types of insurance policies you don’t need

1. Private mortgage insurance

When you’re buying a house, if your down payment is less than 5% (sometimes, less than 20%), you’ll often be required to purchase private mortgage insurance. If you fail to make your payments, the policy pays it off – but it pays the lender to protect it against risks, not you or your family. Even when you’re paying your mortgage on time, the PMI premium payments, which can cost hundreds of dollars per month, can be a drain on your wallet. Once you have 20% equity paid into your home, ask your lender to cancel this insurance.

2. Mortgage life insurance

If you die, this policy pays off your remaining mortgage balance. Unfortunately, the money goes to your lender, not your surviving family. The premiums are also high. Consider replacing this policy with a term life policy and name your spouse or children as the beneficiary.

3. Flight insurance

You might think you’ve never bought a flight insurance policy when you purchased an airline ticket, but check with your credit card company. Some flights automatically bill you for the coverage when you buy a plane ticket. Even without this coverage, if you die in an accident, the airline is likely to compensate your family regardless of this additional cost. But that’s not the point. Your life insurance policy should have enough coverage to provide for your family no matter your cause of death.

4. Accidental death and dismemberment (ad&d) insurance

Unless your life is a Buster Keaton physical comedy, a deadly accident isn’t likely. Your home, life and auto insurance coverage should already protect you and your family from a financial loss due to a catastrophe like a car accident or fire; so your family likely doesn’t need more money because you die in an accident instead of an illness. And that’s not to mention the difficulty of proving that you died of an accident – and not a heart attack from stress following the accident.

5. Cancer insurance

Even if you have a family history of diseases, insurance policies designed to cover specific things, like cancer or heart disease, are rarely worth the extra costs in premiums. Similar to the above, you’ll want life and health insurance that pays, regardless of the diagnosis.

6. Credit insurance

If you die, this insurance pays off your credit cards. While this might sound like a good thing to do for any surviving family members, credit insurance is extremely expensive and not recommended. Besides, you’re not supposed to carry balances from month to month. Even if you do, cards in your name don’t automatically become the obligation of your survivors. And if you fear they’ll become their obligation, get term life insurance, which is less expensive.

7. Children’s life insurance

Don’t buy a separate policy for each child. Instead, add a child rider to your own life insurance policies. For about $25 per year, you’ll get enough to cover final expenses. Also, don’t buy life insurance as a means of saving for college. Instead, establish a 529 college savings plan.

Need assurance? Consider insurance.

Don’t let the hefty premium payments and complicated policies deter you – some insurance plans are necessary to help mitigate financial issues following an unplanned event. At the same time, don’t let the anxiety of unforeseen challenges pressure you into buying unnecessary policies that could be covered by broader plans that can benefit you more in the long run. Get the facts. Understand your options and choose the best types of insurance policies for you and your family.

At Edelman Financial Engines, we help our clients manage risks with comprehensive, integrated insurance planning strategies designed to safeguard what’s most important without draining your wealth. We can tailor each financial plan to your specific needs and assets so you can rest easy knowing, no matter what, you have a plan in place.

To help you maximize protection, we use an integrated wealth management approach that takes into account things like investments, taxes, insurance, retirement planning and estate planning. By providing guidance on all of these elements together, we can create a cohesive view of your finances to identify new opportunities to help build, grow, protect and preserve your wealth and your family.

Reach out to a financial planner today to see how you can prepare for risks at every turn.

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (March 14, 2023). Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U): U. S. city average, by expenditure category. Retrieved on March 23, 2023, from https://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.t01.htm

2. Social Security Administration. (2023). Social Security Fact Sheet. Retrieved March 23, 2023, from https://www.ssa.gov/news/press/factsheets/basicfact-alt.pdf

3. Cross River Therapy. (2023, February 2). Long-Term Care/Nursing Home Statistics (2023). Retrieved on March 23, 2023, from https://www.crossrivertherapy.com/long-term-care-statistics

4. Senior Living. (2023, March 22). Nursing Home Costs in 2023. Retrieved on March 22, 2023, from https://www.seniorliving.org/nursing-homes/costs/

5. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. (2021). Motor Vehicle Safety Data. Retrieved March 22, 2023, from https://www.bts.gov/content/motor-vehicle-safety-data

Neither Financial Engines Advisors, L.L.C. nor any of its advisors sell insurance products. Edelman Financial Engines affiliates may receive insurance- related compensation for the referral of insurance opportunities to third parties if individuals elect to purchase insurance through those third parties. You are encouraged to review this information with your insurance agent or broker to determine the best options for your particular circumstances.

Robert Bain, CLTC®

Insurance Director

With more than two decades of industry experience, Robert Bain leads the Edelman Financial Engines Insurance Department. He holds the CLTC® (Certification for Long-Term Care) professional designation and is our firm’s subject matter expert on insurance solutions, meeting with our planners and clients to help ensure their insurance needs are addressed as part of our integrated financial planning process.