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Review: Questions and Answers on Life Insurance by Tony Steuer

After writing about personal finance for the better part of six years, I feel like I have a decent handle on many of the major subjects. When it comes to investing, I can hold my own. Banking and credit cards? I understand them enough to write about them confidently. The one subject I know I’m weak in is life insurance. Other than knowing the four different types of life insurance [3] (there are more when you consider permutations), I’m really clueless about how it works.

While I’ve never looked at any life insurance books, I can’t imagine there’s one out there better than Questions and Answers on Life Insurance by Tony Steuer [3]. Steuer is a twenty-year veteran of the life insurance business. He’s one of only about thirty licensed “Individual Life and Disability Insurance Analysts” in California and has his own practice, started in 1995. In terms of credentials, I don’t think you can get much better than Steuer.

The 368-page book uses a Question and Answer format, as you probably guessed based on the title, to tackle almost every facet of life insurance. It covers questions as broad as “Why do I need Life Insurance?” (Q2) to how to understand and compare ratings of a life insurance company by one of the five agencies (Q43-54), to life insurance replacements (Q93-105). I really felt my own ignorance on the subject just by scanning the table of contents (did you know there were insurance rating agencies? how policy loans work? or how to donate your life insurance to a charity?).

While I feel unqualified to determine how good of a book this is on life insurance, in comparison to other books, I can say that it’s taught me a lot about life insurance in general. I know have a greater appreciation for how complicated it is (insurance is always a little tricky but life insurance is especially tricky) and how little I know! I’m not sure how much of this your average layperson will ever need to know but if you have a question about life insurance, I think this book should have the answer.