shutterstock_179178509Retirement used to be easy: Most people would work at one job for a long time, collect a pension, and live out their golden years.

But when pensions began to fall by the wayside, we turned to 401(k)s, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), and other personal investments. The interest and tax breaks associated with them made them worthwhile.

Now, even those may not be enough to secure our futures, either.

Ensuring our future now means…well, insuring it. In addition to saving and investing money during our working years, obtaining the right insurance—in the form of disability, life, and long-term care insurance—can help prevent unforeseen events from derailing retirement plans.

Proper insurance coverage is designed to protect us in the case of unexpected medical costs, missed income, or even death. This preparation can save our loved ones from greater heartache and significant financial distress.

Important Types of Insurance to Consider

You’re probably familiar with how your health, home, and auto insurance covers costs for your own, or your family’s medical care, property, and car, respectively.

While those types of insurance cover much of the day-to-day, and may be more tangible in what they aim to protect, consider alternate types of insurance for the ultimate “what if” scenarios. What if, for example, you suddenly weren’t able to work, earn income, or provide for your spouse or extended family?

That’s where disability, life, and long-term care insurance come in.

Disability Insurance

One less common but important type of insurance is disability insurance.

In the event that something happens and prevents you from working and earning income, this type of insurance serves as an income replacement tool.

If you can’t work at all, then you may jeopardize your main source of income. Your earning potential is your biggest asset, and any disruption in that could be a major setback, both immediately and later in retirement.

Savings may only last for a period of time, but consider then that it’s not being invested nor is it gaining interest.

Disability insurance guarantees that you still have cash coming in. You can cover your costs and still save, still invest, and still be on track for your retirement years.

If you’re working, consider disability insurance. If your employer doesn’t provide specific disability insurance coverage, then you can purchase coverage.

Bills and lost income that result from extended medical issues are one of the biggest causes of financial troubles. With disability insurance, you can still build your nest egg and earn replacement income.

Life Insurance

Do you need life insurance? If you’re young without any dependents, don’t have any debts, or are independently wealthy, perhaps not.

For many people, however, it’s a must, especially if you’re close to retiring.

As you’ve progressed in your career, your salary has likely grown in tandem, but your expenses won’t be far behind.

You may have started a family and moved into a house (or a bigger house). You may need to plan for your kids’ college expenses while possibly still paying off your own debts. There’s a lot that needs protecting, and that’s where life insurance comes in.

As you grow older, life insurance becomes less important yet more expensive to obtain. Even if you have a term or whole life insurance policy that’s carrying through to old age, chances are you’ll no longer have a mortgage, student loans and other bills to to contend with.

Life insurance is less about you, and more about your dependents. Like disability insurance, life insurance serves as an income replacement tool.

If you’re not around to continue earning a salary to support your family, you can rest assured knowing your life insurance death benefit will be there for them.

Long-Term Care Insurance

While disability insurance is a great tool to replace lost income, what happens when you’re not earning an income and expenses are still rising?

Just as disability insurance works to protect your income, long-term care insurance works to protect those saved assets when your healthcare costs spike, because of your inability to carry out your daily living activities. It can be purchased as a standalone product from some companies, but is also often included as a rider in your life insurance policy.

Long-term care insurance also covers any costs associated with home care should you require it, which includes nurses, caregivers, and others offering assistance with daily tasks. It works as a supplement to Medicaid, which typically only covers medical-related activity.

Because you’ll often be using long-term care insurance when you’ve already retired, it’s important to keep costs in mind. Make sure you’re able to pay the premiums on your insurance when you’re no learning earning an income, and that you’ll be secure with your savings and investments even with premium payments added to your costs.

If you have enough assets to cover potential and typical home healthcare costs of $100,000 to $200,000, you may decide to “self-insure” and not need long-term care insurance.

Evaluate Your Needs

Your insurance coverage might have appeared sufficient when you initially applied for it, but changes may be necessary as you enter the retirement phase of your life.

Reassess your insurance needs as you experience major life events. A general rule of thumb is to reevaluate your insurance needs on a yearly basis. Get into the habit of checking your insurance coverage and policies annually, and it can become a painless process.

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