While thinking about preparing for death isn't exactly a walk in the park, obtaining life insurance is something we all can benefit from, in order to be sure those we care about are covered financially after we're gone. Before getting your policy, brush up on these common terms associated with life insurance so you know what you're signing up for.

Agent: Unless you're Brad Pitt and being pitched for a blockbuster, this is the party who handles contracts of insurance and services the policyholder of the plan for the insurer.

Annuity: The contract that gives details of a periodic income provision at pre-set intervals is an annuity. This is usually a life-long agreement.



Beneficiary: When a policyholder dies, the person named in their plan who will receive their insurance proceeds is the beneficiary (AKA: lucky son-of-a-gun).

Binding: This is temporary insurance coverage given to the applicant while the underwriting process takes place.

Death Benefit: While it sounds like an oxymoron, a death benefit is the payment given to beneficiaries of a policy holder when the insured passes away. AKA proceeds or face amount.



Evidence of Insurability: In order to be eligible for a life insurance plan, you must provide proof of health and financial information/job details to access your "risk" level. Now if only Trump would release his tax returns…

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance: While usually more expensive than the average policy, this is the type of life insurance where the applicant needn't submit their health information and they can still obtain insurance no matter their health status.

In-Force: While this could be a comic book hero's alter-ego, in-force describes an active life insurance policy which by all accounts is in good standing.

Insured: The person you want to be! This is the person who is covered by a life insurance policy.

Other Insured Rider: Kind of like the person riding "shot gun." This is an optional add-on to a policy which allows for coverage for another person other than the insured.

Permanent Life Insurance: No, you're not going to live forever. Permanent life insurance provides coverage to the insured until they die, rather than for a certain number of years.



Policy: This is the legally-binding document provided to the policyholder that lays out the terms of the insurance contract. Make it your "policy" to read all the fine print.

Policy Owner: This is the lady or gent who owns a life insurance policy. The insured and the policy owner are not necessarily the same person, but they can be.

Premium: This is the payment or payments the policyholder agrees to make towards their insurance policy. Usually, the payments are required annually, twice a year, quarterly, or monthly.

Smoker Ratings: This isn't the Marlboro Man's assessment of the latest movies, but a higher premium charged to tobacco users by insurance companies. As if cigarettes didn't cost enough already!

Standard Risk: This is what insurance companies call a person who is considered to have an average life span based on their lifestyle and health.

Sub-Standard Risk: As you may guess, this is a person who is assumed to have less-than-average longevity due to poor health, risky behaviors, and additional frowned-upon traits. Not only are these folks deemed sub-par, but they must pay higher premiums. Kick 'em while they're down, why don't ya?

Suicide Clause: An insurance company need not pay the death benefit if an insured person commits suicide within a certain period after they get their life insurance policy. This is generally two years' time. Sad, but true.

Underwriter: This person carefully reviews the insurance application and makes the decision if the life insurance applicant meets all qualifications as well as the premium they will adhere to.

Uninsurable Risk: When an insurance company assesses that a person's mortality risk is too high for them to be insured, this person is considered an uninsurable risk.

Now that you're a vocabulary whiz, it's time to inquire about that policy. Before it's too late...

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What do you do when financial hardship hits and you can't make your monthly mortgage payments? This is a question on many homeowner's minds as nearly 17.8 million Americans are reportedly unemployed during the coronavirus pandemic.

When homeowners face financial hardship, such as the loss of a job, they often look to obtain a forbearance agreement from their lender. A forbearance happens when your lender grants you a temporary pause or reduction in monthly payments on your mortgage. Forbearance is not the same as payment forgiveness, in that you still have to pay the entire amount back by an agreed-upon time.

Mortgage lending institutions differ on their mortgage relief policies and qualifications; however, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act were signed into law in late March of this year to protect government-backed mortgages.

Federally backed mortgages include:

  • Fannie Mae
  • Freddie Mac
  • The Federal Housing Administration (FHA)
  • The US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA)
  • The US Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Under the CARES Act, homeowners with a federally backed loan who either directly or indirectly suffer financial hardship due to coronavirus automatically qualify for mortgage forbearance.

Even if your mortgage is not secured by one of these agencies, you still can call and see if you qualify, as many lenders will still offer the option in order to avoid foreclosures.

Under the CARES act, homeowners can claim mortgage forbearance due to financial hardship from COVID-19 for up to 12 months without requiring any documentation or verification. During the forbearance period, mortgage lenders cannot charge late fees or penalties.

Additionally, as long as your mortgage is current at the time you claim forbearance, the lender is required to keep reporting your mortgage as paid current throughout the entire period.

At the end of the forbearance, the CARES act protects consumers from having to make a lump sum payment. Instead, you will be given a repayment plan from your provider. Since repayment options vary, it's important you ask your provider about all of your repayment options.

Possible Repayment Options:

You may be eligible for a loan modification at the end of your forbearance. With modification, the mortgage terms are changed in order to add payments that were missed during the forbearance onto the end of the loan, extending the term.

Another option that may work for some is a reduced payment option. This allows you to keep paying monthly payments at a reduced amount. The amount missed is usually added back into the monthly payments at the end of the forbearance.

For example:

Regular payment: $1000 per month

Reduced payment: $500 per month

Payment after forbearance period: $1500 (until caught up)

Balloon payments, or lump sum payments at the end of the forbearance, are prohibited under the CARES Act. However, mortgage lenders may require homeowners who are not protected under the CARES Act to make a balloon payment at the end, so again it is best to check first with your provider.

Mortgage forbearance should only be considered in true financial hardship. In other words, just because of the pandemic, you should not take a forbearance on your mortgage if you can still afford your payments. Likewise, if you are able to start making payments before the forbearance period is up, it's best to do so as soon as possible.

The Next Steps:

Before you get in touch with your mortgage servicer, save time by gathering as much documentation about the mortgage as you can. Also, be ready to list your income and monthly expenses. Due to an influx in calls, financial institutions are experiencing extremely long wait times right now, and having your information at the ready will help.

Have questions ready to ask. Here are some questions you should be asking:

  • What fees are associated with the forbearance?
  • What are all the repayment options available to you at the end of the forbearance?
  • Will you be charged interest during the forbearance period?

If your forbearance is approved, make sure to keep all documentation pertaining to it. Make sure to cancel any automatic payments to the mortgage during the forbearance period, and keep tabs on your credit report to make sure your lender doesn't report the loan as unpaid.


For more information on forbearance, contact your lender and discuss your options. If you need more assistance with understanding your options, you can contact a local agent for the housing counseling agency, or call their hotline at 1-800-569-4287.