74. The TLDR on Life Insurance with Ladder

March 2, 2023

The following article may contain affiliate links or sponsored content. This doesn't cost you anything, and shopping or using our affiliate partners is a way to support our mission. I will never work with a brand or showcase a product that I don't personally use or believe in.

The following article may contain affiliate links or sponsored content. This doesn’t cost you anything, and shopping or using our affiliate partners is a way to support our mission. I will never work with a brand or showcase a product that I don’t personally use or believe in.

Talking about death is hard –– but not talking about your finances in the case of your death might be harder

We get it, no one wants to think about passing away, and this subject can be triggering for many, but when we ignore tough conversations, we inadvertently put ourselves and our loved ones’ finances in danger.

Tori is joined by Janette Angelini, of long-time affiliate partner of HFK, Ladder to debunk the common misconceptions around life insurance, talk about scams in the industry, and shed light on why this insurance is one of the most important to consider.

You’ll learn:

  • Who life insurance is and isn’t for

  • Why Universal Life is a scam, and what warning signs to look out for

  • How to determine how much coverage you need in a life insurance policy

Learn more about Ladder

Article: Why UIL is a Scam

Meet Janette

Janette Angelini, licensed outreach associate
Janette is a licensed life insurance agent working with Ladder. Ladder offers individual, term life insurance policies. Ladder is designed to be a flexible and affordable online experience. Janette has been working as an outreach associate with Ladder since June 2021.


[00:00:00] Tori Dunlap: Where are you in the world right now? Where are you at?

[00:00:03] Janette Angelini: Right now I am in California, live in North Hollywood. I just moved from Chicago like less than a year ago. So new to the west side. I love it so far. I mean, it, it was so different at first cuz it’s obviously super different from like a condensed city. It’s super spread out.

[00:00:18] But once I started getting used to that I was like, oh yeah, I, I see myself living here a long time.

[00:00:23] Tori Dunlap: Obviously there’s downtown LA but there’s no real like city center in Los Angeles, which is like very bizarre.

[00:00:28] Janette Angelini: Right, right.

[00:00:29] Tori Dunlap: in Seattle, I love New York. Like, and then I visited in LA and I like, it’s a very hard city for me to comprehend , just cuz it’s so spread out. Yeah.

[00:00:38] Janette Angelini: No, for sure. And then you find like cool pockets of neighborhoods, but there’s not, yeah, like there’s no

[00:00:43] Tori Dunlap: And you have to drive so you, you’re no walk. You’re not walking. You

[00:00:47] Janette Angelini: girl, I didn’t have a, I didn’t have a car for like the first couple months. I’m like, Hmm, gotta get a car.

[00:00:53] Tori Dunlap: You’re Ubering. Are you Ubering everywhere. Public

[00:00:55] Janette Angelini: Oh yeah, it was, it was horrid. It was horrid. There’s like, well there is no like public transport, like in Chicago, like we had the l we had buses, but here there’s like a few buses that go to like the randomest places, . So, so yeah.

[00:01:07] Tori Dunlap: Hard to get around if you don’t have a car, and even hard to get around in Accord in

[00:01:11] Janette Angelini: yeah. , right?

[00:01:13] Tori Dunlap: can you tell me a bit about yourself and how you started with ladder?

[00:01:17] Janette Angelini: Definitely. Yeah. So like I was saying, back in Chicago, my job, like right after the pandemic was I was working at like a residential home for adults with disabilities. So developmental disability, intellectual disability. And I loved it and I loved obviously helping people and, and chatting with people, but my hours were like, Pretty wacky.

[00:01:37] So I was chatting with my sister and she had just started working out ladder doing business development and she was like, Hey, there’s actually an opening on the outreach team. I know you like helping people. I know you like talking, so it might be a great fit. And I, yeah, I interviewed with them. I met with the team and I just like fell in love with the people and the culture and it all worked out.

[00:01:57] And then I became a fully licensed agent, so I’m a licensed life insurance agent.

[00:02:02] Tori Dunlap: That’s amazing. Okay, so we hear the words life insurance. Just as a person walking through the world, you hear the words life insurance all the time, but I think very few people could actually do. Define what that is. So in layman’s terms, can you define what life insurance is and what it usually covers or doesn’t?

[00:02:23] Janette Angelini: Definitely, yes. So basically life insurance is a contract between you and a life insurance company. So if you’re paying your premiums, it could be like monthly, annually you’re paying your premium. So in the event that you pass away, life insurance company would pay a death benefit to your beneficiaries.

[00:02:41] Covering and not covering. It’s kind of like dependent on each company, each contract. But at Ladder we cover most natural and accidental death. And then we have two exclusions, which is suicide within the first two years. And then the second is any instances of fraud. So you’re relying about your identity or misrepresentation on the application.

[00:03:00] So in that way, just like be as honest on your application as possible. And yeah, that’s, that’s like kind of the basic, does that kinda make sense? Is that.

[00:03:08] Tori Dunlap: Yeah. Yeah, and I think one of the things that even I feel in my own body and that I think a lot of listeners are immediately feeling is words like accidental death and suicide and life insurance just in general is kind of a scary concept. And I don’t know if you know this, I worked at a company that partnered with Ladder, and that’s how I discovered you all.

[00:03:27] I was running marketing for a FinTech company before. Taking H FK full-time. And so I’ve actually been working with you all for a very long time. And one of the things we were discussing when I worked at that company was like, how do you make a super uncomfortable, really sticky, often very tragic topic, something that people think about even, even though it’s like very uncomfortable at times to think about a loved one dying or yourself dying.

[00:03:53] What? What had happened, and we heard unfortunately horror stories, is that people. Who were typically young and healthy, who, you know, had a, a partner who was financially dependent on them or family members, like children who were financially dependent on them. Something horrible would happen, like a ski accident or a heart attack that just came outta nowhere.

[00:04:12] And what ended up happening is this, this reality that of course is really difficult to face was even hard. because they had no protection for, you know, this, this thing that unfortunately, you know, tragically happened. So I imagine you experienced some sort of like friction and getting people to even think about this.

[00:04:33] Can we talk a bit about, about, about that, like discomfort,

[00:04:36] Janette Angelini: Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, especially even like before I got into it, I was like, I don’t know if I wanna work in life insurance. I don’t know if I wanna talk about like mortality. It’s like so morbid, It’s so much nicer now when you think about it like life insurance really is like the most selfless product cuz you’re paying for something that you are not directly going to benefit from.

[00:04:56] Which is, I mean, what like a beautiful thing. So if you’re just like thinking about life insurance or like on the fence or just like you’re in that arena, you’ve already done like a courageous act. Thinking about mortality, which is like so hard. So just like reminding like people that I talked to on the day, like reminding them of that you’re on the right track and this is something, like you said, accidents happen constantly and you always think it’s not gonna be me.

[00:05:21] It’s not gonna be a loved one. But in reality, like it could be. So just having that lik
e safety net, having something like that is like so important. But yeah, , I get that friction sometimes. They’re like, oh, I don’t know if I wanna talk about this. I get a lot of people who like apologize to me.

[00:05:37] They’re like, I’m so sorry. We have to talk about this. I’m like, it’s my job. I’m happy too.

[00:05:40] Tori Dunlap: I think one thing too for me that I have used to like wrap my head around life insurance is, yes, it does feel like a bigger deal because it is death, but I have insurance or hopefully people have insurance for other aspects of your life, right? Like I have car insurance. I got in a car accident last year wasn’t my fault.

[00:05:57] It happened. It was not fun. Would’ve been. Less fun without or way Right. It would’ve been so much worse. Or renter’s insurance. Right. Or homeowner’s insurance. Or even a lot of my friends have pet insurance of like, their pet gets sick and it’s like, for me it’s. Yes, it feels more significant and weighted, but if you can get to the point where, yeah, I have insurance for everything else, this totally makes sense that I have insurance here.

[00:06:24] Especially to your point where this isn’t, this isn’t going to impact me at all actually. It’s going to impact though the people that I want to protect and the people I love most.

[00:06:34] Janette Angelini: Exactly, exactly, yes. It’s just like exactly synonymous to like card insurance or like homeowner’s insurance. Just paying for that protection and just knowing that something is in place is actually gonna make you feel better than not having it at all in my, it’s my experience.

[00:06:49] Tori Dunlap: So when should somebody consider getting life insurance? Is it when they are, start starting to make money, when they get married, when they have kids? Like what? What is that like life milestone or life milestones that we have to point to or get to point to, to say, okay, this is probably a good time.

[00:07:05] Janette Angelini: Yeah, I mean there’s a few things. I mean for, to start off, the younger you are, the more affordable it will be. So if you’re even thinking about having any financial liabilities, like any mortgage, any debts, any children to get through college, if you’re starting to like plan out those things, you might as well get it.

[00:07:24] Now, when. You are young and like you do, you hopefully don’t have a ton of health issues so that you lock it in and you have it for when like you need it the most. But yeah, those are like kind of the things that. I would say are kind of important to think about to make sure that those things are covered should something happen to you.

[00:07:39] Cuz yeah, you don’t really know what health changes could happen in the future happen after you get the policy. So once you get it, it’s yours. And you don’t have to like reach back out, be like, Hey, I have this thing now. Like once it starts, it starts in your like covered. So

[00:07:53] Tori Dunlap: much coverage do you think the average person needs or how is that calculated?

[00:07:59] Janette Angelini: Yeah, so a good rule of thumb is like 10 times your annual salary. But there also is Ladder has like a life insurance calculator, so if you at the, I think it’s like ladder life.com/calculator.

[00:08:11] Tori Dunlap: Can link it down below too.

[00:08:12] Janette Angelini: Thank you.

[00:08:13] I think it’ll calculate your mortgage balance step, balance your income if you currently have life insurance, like if you have anything through work.

[00:08:20] And what’s the last one? How much you have in savings. So all of those combined, if you kind of input those in ladder, will generate something. And like the ballpark of what you should be applying for, you could always do more or less, but it does give a good like, baseline, oh, this is kind of the amount I should be aiming towards.

[00:08:37] Tori Dunlap: So this might be too niche a question, but

[00:08:39] Janette Angelini: Get into it.

[00:08:40] Tori Dunlap: to reach out to you guys because I don’t have anybody dependent on me. I don’t have children, I don’t have a spouse, but I have a business that is very dependent on me. And if I were to hit hit by a bus tomorrow, I don’t know how that business continues to run in the same way.

[00:08:56] I imagine I need life insurance. How does that work? Is that a thing? Is that a question that you get asked? Because I’m thinking like it wouldn’t affect like family, at least not financially, but it would deeply financially affect the business that I’m running.

[00:09:10] Janette Angelini: A hundred percent. Yeah. You can make your beneficiary the company. Or like you can like change up who like the beneficiary would be. But yeah, that’s a great example of someone that doesn’t like quote, have those like liabilities that I mentioned, but has something that is dependent on them that aren’t those things.

[00:09:26] So yeah, that’s a great question. And yeah, you, you can have that

[00:09:30] Tori Dunlap: Right? Even if you don’t have a huge

[00:09:31] Janette Angelini: like key person

[00:09:32] Tori Dunlap: have one person, or yeah, your business, maybe your. You have somebody else reliant on the business besides just you for their income, for their, you know, their living. That might be a really interesting way to get life insurance, which means I need to add that to my to-do list.

[00:09:47] All right. Okay. We ask so many questions about term life versus other kinds of life insurance. Whole life, universal life insurance. I have been very public that I. Don’t support and don’t believe in life insurance as an investment. I largely think that’s kind of a scam and ladder only offers term life.

[00:10:08] What does that mean and why is that a, a good thing, or why is that the most popular option for people?

[00:10:16] Janette Angelini: For sure. Yeah. So term life, the term is the amount of time that the policy is in effect for. So let’s say you have like a 20 year term with like 300 K in coverage. If you pass away within that 20 years, that 300 K would be paid to your beneficiaries. The kind of like, Milestone or like the keystone for term life is that it is the most cost effective because you’re only using it for this amount of time and.

[00:10:43] Yeah, it’s just like, that’s like the biggest component, whereas with whole life it lasts, it’s permanent, so it does last your whole life. But those can be anywhere from like four to 10 times more expensive. And like you said, there is like a cash value component and like investment component, but yeah.

[00:11:00] I guess on the opp
osite end of that, a lot of our clients think it’s kind of a more lucrative option to get term life and then invest what they would have spent with whole life because then they have that like control over it. They, you know, can do what they please with that rather than investing with the insurance company.

[00:11:16] That’s kind of how we see it working out the best. And that’s what Ladder focuses most on.

[00:11:22] Tori Dunlap: And we’ll do a whole separate episode about this, but one of the questions I get commonly on TikTok is there’s so many people talking about Index Universal life insurance as investment vehicles, and people asking me if it’s a good idea. The long story short answer to that is no. It’s not a good

[00:11:36] idea.

[00:11:36] Janette Angelini: Cool.

[00:11:37] Tori Dunlap: we’ll link a, yeah, we

[00:11:38] Janette Angelini: Agreed

[00:11:39] Tori Dunlap: a we’ll link an article about how basically it’s a scam and how you’re about to lose a ton of money if you invest in that, especially in foregoing other investments. But I, we always say at H F K that like, Life insurance should be used for insurance investing.

[00:11:54] Accounts are used for investing. , like that’s what they’re used for. You want to invest in life insurance because you want to protect those you love, rather than using them as an investment vehicle. What should you look for in a life insurance policy, and what are, what kind of signs can you look for for a good policy versus a bad policy?

[00:12:16] Janette Angelini: For sure. Yeah. So good pricing, good financial ratings, good reviews, those are all things to kind of be on the lookout for transparency, just knowing what you’re paying for and is it flexible? That’s something that ladder like greatly appreciates. I guess when you’re looking at. Like what’s being added onto the policy.

[00:12:37] Like Ladder also doesn’t offer any writers to our policies. Things like chronic illness or spousal children’s writers. Although they like kind of sound nice on the outside, they’re adding complications onto your policy and also adding onto the costs. So something that’s like straightforward. The person who put in the application is the insured, bada-bing-bada-boom

[00:12:58] Tori Dunlap: Okay, so a lot of our listeners are younger, single, maybe newly partnered, but not legally partnered, so they may not own homes or have as much to cover when it comes to life insurance.

[00:13:11] How do you plan for adjustments as your income rises or you reach milestones like buying a home or having children? How do you adjust your plan accordingly?

[00:13:20] Janette Angelini: Totally. Yeah, there is, luckily with Ladder that. Basically what ladder’s all about. It’s the flexibility and like a streamlined process. So if you have a 600 K policy and you decide in a couple of years some of your mortgages paid off, some of your debts are paid off. If you have children, maybe they’re more like financially independent now you can go into your profile and decrease the amount of coverage that you have, and then save money on premiums in that.

[00:13:47] or on the opposite end, if you wanted to apply for more coverage, you can do that through your profile as well. So because I mean, our lives are so, we know with the last couple years, especially our lives are so ever changing, it almost seems wild for a policy not to have that flexibility as well. So just to like keep that policy intact, but also have. Security knowing that it can be changed without having to go through a bunch of paperwork and figuring out like the timeline of how it’s gonna be approved. With Ladder, we really do try and make it as seamless as possible just to make sure that that flexibility is there.

[00:14:25] Tori Dunlap: Who is somebody that doesn’t need life? I.

[00:14:30] Janette Angelini: Hmm.

[00:14:33] Tori Dunlap: You’re

[00:14:33] Janette Angelini: I

[00:14:33] Tori Dunlap: like, everybody needs it. I don’t know.

[00:14:36] Janette Angelini: in a sense. Yeah. I guess if you’re, like, you’re really sitting there and you’re, you’re looking invoice and you’re thinking about like your financial planning, if you plan on not having any financial liabilities, like kids are not in your future, no mortgage, no debts Yeah, that could, that could totally.

[00:14:51] Maybe the product’s not for you, which like totally makes sense. Or I guess if you’re older and like approaching retirement and you have like an, an egg, like things for that, then maybe the product also might not be the best for you either. But,

[00:15:04] Tori Dunlap: I, I mean, I think of like my parents who are the most financially responsible people I know and don’t have debt. They paid off their mortgage, but like still have life insurance cuz

[00:15:14] Janette Angelini: yeah.

[00:15:16] Tori Dunlap: Protect protection in there. And I remember in my work at the FinTech company I was at too. There was a lot of conversation about how actually non uncompensated working parents, so stay-at-home parents actually could really use life insurance as well.

[00:15:30] And I think they often get left out of the conversation cuz it’s often the, you know, the parent who is going to work and getting compensated for their labor. But if you know your, your stay-at-home partner or your stay-at-home parent passes away. What is the cost of, you know, of raising children, of upkeeping, the home?

[00:15:48] And again, all of this is a little morbid and, and like, very much condenses all of these like, complicated things into this person dies then what? But it’s, it’s interesting to think about like that. You know, as much as we, we need to protect the compensated working parent the non uncompensated working parent is doing just as much labor, sometimes even more valuable labor.

[00:16:08] And, you know, could. You know, it, it’s one of those situations where it’s actually interesting to consider, you know, life insurance for both partners,

[00:16:16] Janette Angelini: Yeah, I, I think this was even a few years ago, but the estimated cost, like, or contributions to a stay-at-home parent was like 115,000 per year. So if you’re looking at your annual, like 10 times your annual salary, I mean, that’s. I mean, there you go. But I, that was even a few years ago. It could totally be more now, but it was around the ballpark of 115 K.

[00:16:36] Yeah, I think

[00:16:36] Tori Dunlap: With inflation and daycare costs and all of that,

00:16:38] Janette Angelini: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:16:40] Tori Dunlap: Yep. And so I think that that’s a conversation and that’s something I wanted to highlight in talking to you that, you know, I didn’t think about prior to starting to learn more about life insurance of like, oh, it’s the person, if there is, you know, two people in a relationship and one is, has a more traditional job, oh, it’s that one you need to protect and it with a policy.

[00:16:59] It’s also, I think the non uncompensated working parent who you know, is very much doing a ton of labor that, of course non uncompensated, but in a way that. You know, you would have to hypothetically pay for if that person wasn’t, wasn’t, wasn’t working.

[00:17:14] Janette Angelini: Absolutely. Yeah. Another thing that people also sometimes forget about is if you’re like taking care of elder, like older parents, if they have like, like older family members that they’re taking care of, like maybe like elder care. That’s another thing to think of too. So if your income were to disappear, would.

[00:17:34] Be covered too. Like, are they gonna be okay? So that’s another thing that I feel like even sometimes when I’m talking with users, I forget about that point. But also you don’t wanna ask like, who are you taking care of

[00:17:44] Tori Dunlap: Yeah.

[00:17:44] Janette Angelini: like, you just like ask them, like who’s depending on you? Like where’s, like if you, if your income were to disappear, who would be affected?

[00:17:52] Yeah.

[00:17:52] Tori Dunlap: Right. And even in 2022, you know, we know that women are still largely the caregivers, both to children as well as to ailing family members. And it’s a huge reason why a lot of women leave the workforce either temporarily or permanently. Because they’re, they’re caregiving and yeah, to your point, I mean, we know the cost of, of either daycare or something like a nursing home or at home hospice care or something like that.

[00:18:15] It’s, it’s incredibly expensive. And so, you know, I think revamping or at least rethinking how we, how we think about protecting people in our lives with policies in the same way that, yeah, we want to protect the people who are, who are also doing labor. It just might not be compensated.

[00:18:33] Janette Angelini: Totally. Yes. Couldn’t agree more.

[00:18:35] Tori Dunlap: My last question for you, what would you say to somebody who’s on the fence about whether or not they need life? I.

[00:18:43] Janette Angelini: Yeah, kind of going back to my original, like kind of tangent, if you’re thinking about it at all, you’re already on the right track. Yeah, you’re, it’s always gonna be the most affordable right now, so kind of just look at what your future holds and just like have a moment with yourself or with people that depend on you that say like, Yeah, it’s important to have that basic life insurance in place to like protect your family should like an unexpected death occur.

[00:19:12] So yeah, just kind of think a little bit deeply about your future for a hot second and congratulate yourself for thinking about it and, you know, getting those, those hard topics out into the ether and figuring out how you can best help the ones that you.

[00:19:32] Tori Dunlap: Thank you. This has been so helpful. It’s one of the questions we get most frequently. We. We have our link to ladder down below. Where else can people go to learn more about life insurance, about their different options? Feel free to plug away.

[00:19:46] Janette Angelini: Yeah, I mean, ladder is a huge help desk of like questions and FAQs. Also, our service team is like unmatched. They’re so incredible. And yeah, that’s help ladder life.com if you have any questions about that if you. Put an application in your, to get an offer, then an outreach associate like me or one of my colleagues will reach out and say like, how can we best help you in your journey so that you have like a confident and like clear perception of what you’re buying and how we can like best facilitate that.

[00:20:18] So yeah, everyone on our team is always willing to help. We have our help desk and yeah, I mean also if you wanna do like supplemental. Do a couple Google searches and do like a couple reading, like just like doing the due diligence of looking at a couple other options and then feeling out what you think is best.

[00:20:36] I’ll plug ladder just a little bit more too, but like we have non-commissioned agents, so if you talk to any of us or like anyone on my team, I’m not like, You know, pushing you to get this because I want to sell you something. I am pushing you to get it cuz I truly and earnestly think it’s integral for your financial planning and your financial future.

[00:20:55] Tori Dunlap: And like I was saying before too, there’s plenty of people on social media especially that are pushing life insurance policies and like trust your gut. Like life insurance again, should be for life insurance, in my opinion, not for an investment. And there’s. So many studies and research that shows that you actually lose money if you’re trying to use them as investment vehicles.

[00:21:15] And if, again, if your gut’s going off, your gut’s going off for a reason. And so yeah, I’ve, I’ve been working with you all, oh gosh, since like 2018. And so it’s just, yeah, so helpful to, to be able to, yeah, get some expertise and to have you on the show. So thanks for being here.

[00:21:29] Janette Angelini: Thank you. Thanks for all the work you guys do. Honestly, like I love reading through your stuff. I love listening to the podcast. It’s helped me immensely. So yeah, it’s

[00:21:38] Tori Dunlap: kind

[00:21:38] Janette Angelini: I appreciate you having me on and, and listening to some morbid talk, but also some important talk

Tori Dunlap

Tori Dunlap is an internationally-recognized money and career expert. After saving $100,000 at age 25, Tori quit her corporate job in marketing and founded Her First $100K to fight financial inequality by giving women actionable resources to better their money. She has helped over one million women negotiate salary, pay off debt, build savings, and invest.

Tori’s work has been featured on Good Morning America, the New York Times, BBC, TIME, PEOPLE, CNN, New York Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, BuzzFeed, and more.

With a dedicated following of almost 250,000 on Instagram and more than 1.6 million on TikTok —and multiple instances of her story going viral—Tori’s unique take on financial advice has made her the go-to voice for ambitious millennial women. CNBC called Tori “the voice of financial confidence for women.”

An honors graduate of the University of Portland, Tori currently lives in Seattle, where she enjoys eating fried chicken, going to barre classes, and attempting to naturally work John Mulaney bits into conversation.

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