While no one likes to pay more in insurance premiums than they have to, an important fundamental principle of insurance is that in the end, there must be enough premiums (plus growth) to cover potential future claims (plus overhead and profits for the insurance company). Insurance coverage that is “too” cheap is actually risky, and coverage that is “expensive” is actually the most secure!
In fact, one of the most significant caveats to considering any form of insurance (or annuity) guarantee at all is if the insurance is not going to lose you money on average, it’s actually something to avoid. In other words, insurance guarantees should never be expected to make money on average for the policyowner, or the insurance company will lose money until it inevitably goes out of business and the guarantee will be gone anyway!
As a result, decisions to purchase insurance and/or seek out guarantees should always be viewed from the perspective of seeking to trade a small known loss to avoid a big unknown loss instead. The goal is not to finish with more money on average, but simply to shift the range of outcomes in a manner that increases the number of small losses and reduces the exposure to big ones that may be unrecoverable. So the next time you’re considering a type of insurance or annuity guarantee with a client, make sure you know why and how the coverage and guarantees are expected to lose money… and then decide if the trade-off is worthwhile anyway! And if you can’t figure out how the guarantee will lose you money on average, it’s a strong indicator that either you’re missing a key detail and/or the guarantee is overpromising something it can’t deliver, or the guarantee itself may be a mirage that the insurance company cannot possibly make good on in the end!