NU Online News Service, Nov. 10, 2003, 6:11 p.m. EST – Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, Springfield, Mass., already has given away 711 10-year term life insurance policies through a new program aimed at low-income and middle-income parents.

MassMutual started the program earlier this year in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and North Carolina. The company wants to get the program up and running in 30 states and the District of Columbia by the end of the year, says MassMutual spokesman Mark Di Giorgio.

So far, MassMutual has received 1,100 applications, Di Giorgio says.

Applicants must be between 19 and 42-years-old. They have to be permanent, legal U.S. residents, the parents or legal guardians of one or more dependent children under 18, and currently employed with a total family income between $10,000 and $40,000 per year, Di Giorgio says.

The applicants also have to be in good health, and they will go through an underwriting process, Di Giorgio says.

If a parent who receives a policy dies during the 10-year policy term, $50,000 will be put into a trust fund to pay for the education of the children named as beneficiaries. The trust fund, managed by the MassMutual Trust Company, will pay the educational institution directly.

Expenses covered include books, tuition, fees and room and board.

Any type of educational institution is covered, including pre-school, private school, trade school, college and graduate school, Di Giorgio says.

MassMutual has committed to giving away 20,000 policies, or $1 billion in face amount of life insurance, over the next five years, Di Giorgio says.

“There’s a significant portion of the population that believes in life insurance but is unable to afford it,” Di Giorgio says. “Less than 18% of workers below poverty level have any form of life insurance. MassMutual is attempting to level that educational playing field so that all children have the opportunity for an education.”