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Sizing Up Life Insurance Options
Durham, NC - Casper Holroyd recalls a conversation with a 67-year old retired Duke employee - he couldn't believe she was paying about $150 a month for almost $100,000 in term life insurance. When she turns 70, the monthly cost would balloon to almost $250.
"Some of the reasons you buy coverage is because you have children or a mortgage, but as you get older, you may not need it," said Holroyd, owner of the Holroyd Agency, Duke's vendor for universal life insurance. "As you get older, you should focus on only what you need."
As one of Duke's "Flex Benefits," universal life insurance is a voluntary, employee-paid program through payroll deduction. It offers $10,000 to $100,000 in coverage in case of death, although employees can "cash out" when they deem appropriate - participants can recoup some cash value from their policies after a period of time. With supplemental term life insurance, Holroyd noted that monthly premiums rise quickly as participants age, so Duke faculty and staff should weigh the cost and benefit of regular payments.
For example, a non-smoking 35-year-old Duke employee pays about $22 a month for $25,000 in universal life insurance while a 65-year old non-smoker pays about $100. Coverage is priced by the ING insurance company through the Holroyd Agency, based on age and smoking status.
Duke employees can sign up for coverage at any time while an active Duke employee. No physical is needed and faculty and staff need only to answer a couple health questions to sign up.
Betty Jones, staff specialist with Duke Alumni Association Regional Programs, said that she's held about $90,000 in term life insurance, but plans to reduce that amount.
"I don't have any children, so I wanted to make sure all my expenses were taken care of," she said. "But when I retire, I know I can reduce that amount because costs could be expensive."
Holroyd pointed out that employees have the option of term life insurance, which renews every five years, typically with increased monthly premiums, or universal life insurance, which has the same monthly cost for the life of the policy. He said that the universal life option builds up cash value, so participants are able to take out about 40 percent of the policy's value if it's kept for about 10 years.
In addition to coverage for themselves, Duke employees can cover a spouse, children and grandchildren for an additional cost.
Regular rank faculty and employees scheduled to work at least 20 hours per week are eligible to purchase universal life insurance. House staff are not eligible for this program, nor are employees who are part of a union, unless participation was mutually agreed to in the bargaining agreement.
For more information on universal life insurance and how to sign up, visit the Duke Human Resources website.
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