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Buying Whole Life Insurance by Mistake

Question: On my financial adviser’s suggestion, I bought whole life insurance as an investment, but  being single, young and healthy, I’m rethinking it now. Should I keep the policy, or discard it and pay the penalties?

— Claudia Bernett, New York City

Answer: When it comes to insurance, buyer’s remorse can be expensive. Indeed, experts say, one of the biggest disadvantages of a whole life policy is the high cost of canceling it during the surrender period (typically the first five to eight years after purchase). You’ll want to map out all the costs associated with canceling now—such as penalties and taxes—and see how big a chunk you’d lose by opting out. If it’s a significant amount, it might make sense to ride out the surrender period by choosing the policy’s investment option with the lowest ongoing expenses, says Ben Birken, a certified financial planner with Woodward Financial Advisors in Chapel Hill, N.C. Another option, say experts: You can lower the policy value (and thus the premium) and take the saved money to invest elsewhere.


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