Life insurance always costs--no matter what,"" cautions the author of this guidebook, which explains in lay terms just how premium dollars can be stretched to provide maximum protection against the risks of ""dying too soon or living too long."" As a Chartered Life Underwriter (the industry's highest accolade), Gordis obviously knows his business. He displays talent as well for putting it into a financial-planning perspective that will prove valuable to anyone seeking to safeguard dependents' financial interests or provide themselves retirement security. For example, Gordis debunks the merchandising myths surrounding term insurance, which agents do not promote in part because commissions are less than on paid-up life policies. Home offices are equally reticent, he notes, since the rockbottom premiums are no higher than required for actual coverage costs, corporate overhead, and a modest profit; there's no money for reserve accounts that reduce carriers' overall risks. Also examined in detail are optional life policy features including double indemnity and disability income riders, use of dividends, and payment of proceeds. In addition, Gordis explains how variable annuities (the industry's response to inflation's erosion of the dollar's purchasing power) as well as group and major medical protection may fit into an insurance program. To calculate coverage needs, he recommends a balance sheet approach that takes into account Social Security survivor benefits, personal net worth and related factors. Less an apostate than an apostle of common sense in family finance, the author handles a technical subject in good-humored and generally entertaining fashion. Consumer advocacy at its best; you're in good hands with Gordis.