Don't Fall for That Life Insurance Ad on TV

A 30-second commercial is unlikely to fully explain the pros and cons of a life insurance product. Here's a better way to find the right insurance for you.

A man sits on a bed while watching television.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's a scenario that John Buenger encounters all too often at his independent insurance agency. People see an ad for life insurance on TV, but when they ask for more details, the policy isn't what they expected. "The fine print on these ads goes by so quickly that when people call in to get more information, the conditions are totally different versus what they had in mind," says Buenger, a senior financial manager and adviser at the Rice Agency in Hagerstown, Md.

On the surface, life insurance seems simple enough in that all products follow the same general setup: You pay the insurer premiums, and if you pass away, the insurer pays your heirs a death benefit. But there are different types of life insurance, and how the products differ isn't always made clear in a 30-second commercial. In fact, TV ads leave a lot of key information out of the picture. Here's a better way to get a handle on these products so that the next time you see an enticing ad for life insurance, you'll know whether it sounds too good to be true.

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David Rodeck
Contributing Writer, Kiplinger's Retirement Report