MONEY Ask the Expert

Should I Buy Life Insurance for My Child?

Q: Does it make sense to buy a whole life insurance policy for a child? — Michael C., Coatesville, Pa.

A: Hardly ever. Most kids don’t need life insurance, since its chief purpose is to replace income, says Jason Brooks, a financial planner in Berthoud, Colo.

And while whole and variable life policies have a cash value that rises, high fees slow that growth. Breaking even on premiums can take decades.

The only reason to buy is to guarantee insurability later in life, says Cleveland adviser Joe Heider.

Related: Which Comes First: Student Loans or 401(k)?

You can, he notes, lock in a policy — helpful if your child later has an illness, such as cancer or diabetes, that makes insurance expensive or unobtainable.

But such misfortune is rare; only one in 400 children has diabetes before age 20, for example. And the size of most kiddie policies ($50,000 or less) is usually too small to be useful for adults.

A better idea is to save for a more likely need: higher education.

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