Called the Lifebridge program, the 10-year term life policy is issued in the name of one parent or guardian. If that parent dies during the term, the money is placed in a trust to be used for the education of the children. Covered expenses include books, tuition, fees, and room and board. The types of schools covered include pre-school, private school, trade school or college. The children have until 10 years after the death of a parent or until they are age 35 -- whichever is later -- to use the money.MassMutual introduced the program in 2002 because many low-income families need life insurance, but can't afford it. As of November, 2010, the company had given away more than 11,500 policies, which is about $500 million in free life insurance coverage. The company plans to distribute $1 billion worth before ending the project.
"We encounter a lot of skepticism about this program," says Cindie St. George, director of operations for LifeBridge. "We've been fortunate to succeed for nearly 160 years, and we feel a keen responsibility to give back to the communities that have long supported us."
St. George says one of the most memorable claims was from a family of four whose mother died of a brain aneurysm. The children, who were in their teens, split the money, using it for training in practical medical-related careers. One became a nurse's assistant and another became a medical technician.
In order to be eligible, a parent must be:
- Between the ages of 19-42
- The legal guardian of one or more dependent children under age 18
- Currently employed -- either full or part time -- and have a total family income of between $10,000 and $40,000 annually
- A permanent, legal resident of the U.S.
- In good health as determined by MassMutual's underwriting guidelines (as with all life insurance policies)
Get more information and apply via MassMutual's website or call (800) 272-2216.
To apply, you must bring these documents to a meeting with a MassMutual agent:
- A copy of your 1040 or 1040A (used to confirm income)
- A recent pay stub (used to confirm working status)
- Social Security numbers of children/dependents under the age of 18
- Proper identification (photo ID, driver's license, green card, etc.)