When is it worth taking a risk?

Berlin (dpa / tmn) - A family is moving into their own home. Month after month, the couple pays off the home loan. But then the main breadwinner dies unexpectedly. The partner is hardly able to handle the loan installments with his income. And now?

Term life insurance makes sense so that the family does not fall into a financial hole in cases like this. "When he dies, the surviving dependents receive a fixed amount, the death benefit," explains Mathias Zunk from the Association of the German Insurance Industry (GDV) in Berlin. In this case, you can use this to pay off the loan.

The deal is not only useful for families with ongoing real estate financing, says Elke Weidenbach from the consumer center in North Rhine-Westphalia. This is also an important safeguard for couples with children. "In principle, everyone can benefit from a term life insurance policy," explains Bianca Boss from the Association of Insureds (BdV).

The customer determines the amount of the death benefit upon conclusion of the contract. If the policy expires while the insured is alive, no benefits are due.

With the classic form of term life insurance, the sum insured remains unchanged during the term - unless the dynamic increase has been agreed. "The contract should, however, contain an additional insurance guarantee," advises Weidenbach. In this way, the sum insured can be increased later if necessary - for example when a child is born.

Before concluding a contract, consumers should be aware of the amount of the sum insured and the duration. "One criterion can be the amount and duration of a loan that is to be secured with term life insurance," said Boss.

Before a contract is concluded, the insurance company first weighs the risk - and asks numerous questions, primarily about the state of health. "All questions must be answered completely and truthfully," emphasizes Boss.

For example, the insurer wants to know whether the applicant smokes or drives a motorcycle. Anyone who states in the application that they are a non-smoker and will smoke after taking out the policy does not have to inform the insurer of this. "As a rule, there are no reporting requirements," says Weidenbach. If you are unsure, you should check the terms of the contract.

If smokers give up their nicotine consumption after the start of the contract, then insurers should allow a switch to the non-smoking tariff. Smokers should pay attention to this when signing a contract.

Whether an applicant has to be examined by a doctor before signing a contract depends on the amount of the insurance. "Such an examination is often required from a sum of 300,000 euros," explains Weidenbach.

The amount of the contribution depends on the death benefit, the entry age and the duration. "According to a rule of thumb, the death benefit should be three to five times the gross annual income of the person to be insured," says Boss.

One advantage: Term life insurance usually does not cost much, as Stiftung Warentest found in its most recent product test. The 35-year-old model customer pays for an insurance sum of 250,000 euros with the cheapest provider 210 euros annually in the non-smoking tariff.