People spend a lot of time during the winter doing two things staying inside and trying to keep warm.

So, if you do the math, it will come as no surprise that most births in the United States take place between May and October, with August usually leading the pack. Which means, about now, lots of people are, or should be, looking for life insurance.

Everyone, despite what many are told, does not need life insurance. However, if you have dependents such as a newborn child, you will need to be able to replace your income if you were to die. Accordingly, to decide whether you need life insurance, ask yourself the following question:

If I were to die tomorrow, with the loss of my current income, would those who are financially dependent on me (spouse, children) be able to continue to afford to pay for those things theyll need to pay for now (mortgage, rent, medical insurance, all other general living expenses) and in the future (college education, etc.)?

If the answer to that question is that they couldnt afford to pay for those things without your income, than you need to buy life insurance.

Remember, too, that some people while not earning an income per se do have a large economic value, and need to be insured. For example, because the death of a stay-at-home mom (or dad) would likely cause economic hardship due to the greatly increased day care fees and/or the greatly decreased earning time for the surviving spouse, the non-income-earning spouse, especially in a family with other dependents, should also be covered by life insurance.

Next question what type of insurance should you buy? With very few exceptions, you should always buy term life. Since the premiums on cash-value insurance (whole life, variable life, etc.) policies are so high, most people can only afford the amount of insurance coverage they need by buying the much less expensive term insurance. Just as importantly, even if cost is not a concern, because the investment portion of cash-value insurance policies in virtually all cases are, at best, only mediocre, its virtually always better to buy a term policy.

Additionally, when buying a term life policy, be sure you specifically purchase a level term policy, so that the premiums will remain constant over the entire term of the policy.

And, in most cases (certainly if you have a newborn), be sure that the policy is for a minimum of 25 years, so that by the time the policy term ends, those who had been financially dependent on your income will likely no longer be so.

Rick Shaffer hosts Biz$mart weekdays from 4-6 pm on Boston Herald Radio.