A large insurer has come up with a new way to get life insurance customers to think about coverage amounts.

A unit of MetLife Inc., New York, has introduced a Guaranteed Survivor Income Benefit rider for universal life insurance policies and a GSIB calculator that can help consumers estimate how much life insurance they need to guarantee survivors an adequate lifetime income stream.

Life insurance policies usually pay lump-sum benefits, but most consumers really are buying life insurance to replace their income streams, MetLife says.

The GSIB rider can help consumers buy enough insurance to meet their income-replacement goals, MetLife says.

Consumers who buy the rider can select a combination of lump-sum benefits and periodic, guaranteed income payments, the company says.

MetLife says it has applied for a patent on the GSIB rider.