Life insurance protects your loved ones in the case of your death. It’s one of the most important purchases you can make, especially when your income is a crucial piece of your family’s financial security.
The problem is that many people avoid buying life insurance because they assume policies are too costly. After all, benefit amounts are generally large sums of money that range well over $100,000. It’s reasonable to think you’d pay a lot of money for that kind of coverage.
However, life insurance is often a lot more affordable than people anticipate.
For example, the 2020 Insurance Barometer Study found that 50 percent of millennials assumed a healthy 30-year-old buying a $250,000 life insurance policy would pay over $1,000 a year.
In truth, a healthy 30-year-old would only pay about $160 a year for a $250,000 policy.
It might be much easier than you think to get an affordable rate for life insurance protection. You can often get the coverage you need for your family at a rate that fits your budget.
If you’re not sure where to start, you’re not alone.
The sheer number of companies offering life insurance can be overwhelming. With many of them claiming to offer the best rates, knowing where to look can be tough.
Thankfully, you don’t need to follow the flashiest website advertisement to find the best rates. There are some tried and true ways to save money and find an affordable policy.
Check out our top ten tips for finding an affordable life insurance policy.
10 Tips To Securing an Affordable Life Insurance Policy
You can take steps to save money before you even begin applying for a policy.
Planning exactly how much life insurance you’ll need, figuring out the policy type you want, and finding which companies can offer great rates are a good place to start.
If your life insurance application requires a medical exam, we can also provide some pro tips for improving your health to score well on the medical exam.
Before you apply for life insurance coverage, start with these ten simple steps discussed below: they are the most important.
Top 10 Affordable Life Insurance Tips – Overview
- Stick with term life insurance
- Choose the correct death benefit amount
- Shop and compare different plans
- Use the help of a licensed insurance agent
- Buy now, not when you get older
- Work on your health
- Understand your options if you are a smoker
- Forget adding policy riders
- Pay your premiums annually for a discount
- Keep an eye out for potential discounts
Tip #1: Consider a Term Policy
You will often see the words “whole life” and “term life” when shopping for a life insurance policy. These are the two most popular forms of life insurance.
What’s the difference?
Whole life policies will cover your entire life, while term policies cover you for a set period.
Since term policies only cover you for a set amount of time, they’re much more affordable than whole life policies. In many cases, the price for a term life insurance policy can be 5 to 15x cheaper than the cost of a whole life insurance policy.
Why is term life insurance so much cheaper than whole life insurance?
Whole life insurance is categorized as permanent life insurance. If you pay your premiums, the insurance plan will last until you pass away.
There is a 100% chance that your beneficiary will collect on the death benefit when you pass away with a whole life insurance policy.
On the other hand, term life insurance is categorized as temporary insurance and is designed to work around contract lengths. Common term contract lengths include 10, 15, 20, and 30 years.
Once a term contract ends, coverage terminates, and with a term insurance policy, there is an excellent chance that you will potentially outlive the contract length.
As a rule, the shorter your term length, the less your premiums will cost since the insurance company has fewer odds of paying out a potential death claim. So, for example, a 10-year term policy will be much cheaper than a 30-year term policy, which will be more affordable than a whole life policy.
Cost difference between term insurance and whole life insurance
The below table represents the actual cost of a 10, 20, and 30-year term life insurance plan versus the cost of a whole life insurance policy.
To obtain the rates shown in the example below, we circled back to the insurance barometer study to see the monthly cost for a 30 year old healthy non-tobacco using a male interested in obtaining a $250,000 life insurance policy.
The results are as followed:
|10-Year Term||20- Year Term||30-Year Term||Whole Life|
Term life insurance isn’t just cheaper, it’s also a smart choice for many families with a large amount of financial risk on the line that requires protection at a cost that won’t break your bank account.
A life insurance policy replaces the income that would be lost if you were to pass away, so you want to choose a term length that lasts long enough to cover your biggest financial needs.
Having the option to choose from multiple term lengths can help pinpoint your life insurance needs to keep your family covered until you:
- Pay off your mortgage.
- Pay for your children to finish school.
- Pay off any other large loans or debts such as a mortgage.
- Pay until your able to retire and collect social security or your pension.
Setting your term insurance policy around these financial objectives allows your family to continue to pay their bills if your income was lost due to your passing. Once those bills change, your life insurance coverage needs are likely to change, too.
This is another main reason to go with the more affordable life insurance option of term life insurance. Rather than paying the high cost of whole life insurance and potentially outliving your insurance needs and being stuck in a permanent plan, a term policy can easily be tailored to last as specifically long as your insurance needs last.
Whole life insurance is not all that bad
It’s not to say that it’s never a good idea to buy a whole life policy. While it’s far from being the most affordable life insurance option, whole life policies offer some advantages that term life policies don’t.
The obvious advantage is knowing that your coverage is guaranteed to remain active for life. You’ll be covered no matter how long you live as long as you pay your premium payments.
The second significant advantage is the guaranteed cash value growth whole life insurance can offer. The life insurance coverage has a cash building ability that works like a savings account.
When premium payments are paid, it is split with a portion going to the cost to own the coverage and a second portion going into the cash value account, where it will build over time.
As the cash value accumulates, it can be borrowed from if needed. If the cash growth goes untouched for years, it can also be used as a supplemental income come retirement.
However, if you’re looking for an affordable policy that will cover your family, a term policy is going to be the best choice for most families. Plus, if you need coverage beyond your initial term length, most term policies offer a policy rider that allows you to convert them to a whole life policy. Your rates will go up, but you’ll be covered.
Tip #2: Choose the Correct Benefit Amount
One of the most asked questions about buying life insurance is, “how much coverage do I need?”
There are a couple of ways to answer this common but essential question. At the very least, most families will want to consider having enough coverage to replace their income and cover any expenses that would have a financial impact on their surviving family members.
While it is crucial to have the correct benefit amount, a lower benefit amount results in lower premiums, just as shorter-term lengths would.
While you’re also likely to be able to take out a policy worth a million dollars or more, it won’t be any help to you if you can’t afford the premiums.
It’s much better to have a small benefit policy you can afford than a large benefit policy you end up canceling because you can’t pay the premiums.
So how much life insurance do you need?
Everyone is different, but as previously mentioned, one of the easiest ways in determining how much life insurance coverage you should have is to use the multiplier of income or “rule of thumb” method.
The method has you use your pre-taxed annual income and multiplies it by using a multiplier of 8-12x. The multiplier represents the total amount of years your family would need income for.
Your result is the amount of life insurance coverage you should consider. However, that’s not a hard and fast rule, just an easy method to figure out a good starting point.
Some people might actually need a lot more than that, and others may need less than that. The multiple of income method is a great starting point that can be paired with other factors that can include:
- Your income and how many years your spouse would need it
- Mortgage payments or other major bills
- Immediate debts that would need to be paid
- Any future major expenses you anticipate down the road
- Your current monthly expenses
Figuring out how much death benefit protection your family needs and what you can afford will help you select the best benefit amount.
Think of it this way: even if you can’t budget a huge policy, it’s still much better to leave your family with a policy of $100,000 or $250,000 than nothing at all. It might not cover them for years to come, but it could definitely alleviate a crisis.
Plus, you can always add more coverage later on. You can add to your benefit amount later if your income increases or your needs change. Some policies might even allow you to do this without taking another medical exam. If not, you can look into getting an additional policy.
Can I have more than one policy?
Yes. You can have more than one life insurance policy. This is called laddering, and it can be a smart financial strategy. In fact, it’s often cheaper to have multiple policies than a single policy with a large benefit amount. This can save you money or premiums while allowing you to build your coverage.
You can also use this strategy when you have financial commitments that will end at different times. For example, you could have one term policy that will end when your mortgage is paid off and another that will end when your children graduate school.
This could end up being a lot more affordable than a single policy to cover both of those events, especially if you’d need a long term length or high benefit amount. Laddering doesn’t make sense for everyone, but in some cases, it can save you money.
Tip #3 Shop Around Before You Buy
Life insurance is an important purchase, so it’s just as important and encouraged to shop around before you buy a plan. There’s a lot of competition in the life insurance market, and what’s right for someone else might not be right for you.
Some companies specialize in different types of life insurance or different customers. For example, you might see companies that specialize in:
- Term policies
- Whole life policies
- High benefit amount policies
- Lower benefit amount policies
- Accelerated underwriting policies
- No medical exam policies
- Guaranteed issue policies
- Younger customers
- Senior customers
- Customers with young children
- Customers with a complex medical history
- Customers who use tobacco
The right company for you is going to be the one that fits your specific needs and underwriting criteria.
It’s easy to come across insurance companies advertising affordable rates, but that doesn’t mean that their coverage will fit your specific insurance needs.
Purchasing coverage based on an advertisement and without doing a little research could end up costing you more in the long run.
You may even find a company that offers the perfect policy features and low rates, but without researching their underwriting guidelines, there could be a chance that you don’t qualify for the coverage or the low rates due to a past or current medical condition.
This is why it’s a good idea to compare quotes from multiple companies before you apply. You can get no-obligation quotes and use them to compare prices, policy features, and underwriting guidelines to help make a well-informed choice.
Once you have several options, you can also research each company. It’s a good idea to read reviews online from both publications and customers. You can apply for coverage when you feel confident you’ve pinned down a good quote from a company you can trust.
Utilize an online quote calculator to your advantage
An online quote calculator is a great tool for comparing different life insurance plans and rates from multiple life insurance companies all at once.
By entering a few basic details about yourself and the coverage options that you’re interested in, you can begin comparing life insurance options from multiple providers in seconds.
Some quote calculators can even help you determine an amount of coverage by simply answering a few questions.
If you’re looking for the most affordable life insurance plan, then definitely utilize a quote calculator to your advantage so that your getting the best deal.
Tip #4 Work With an Agent or Broker
If the idea of trying to figure out the best company and life insurance plan seems overwhelming to do on your own, an agent or broker can help. While the internet can be an excellent source of information, nothing beats the help of an experienced insurance agent.
Insurance agents are licensed professionals who can help match you with the coverage and company that’s right for you. You can let an agent know your specific situation, goals, and budget, and they’ll match you with companies and get you quotes that are best suited for you.
An agent can be beneficial if you have a complex scenario or need a particular policy. Agents and brokers often have access to many companies and have the experience to know which companies will be first for your unique situation. Plus, they’ll let you know what you can expect during the application and underwriting process.
When you’re worried about sticking to a budget, working with a professional might sound like a waste of money. However, you won’t actually pay for the agent’s work.
Insurance agents make a commission on the policies they sell. They’re paid directly by the insurance company that issues the policy, so there’s no cost to you.
The cost of your policy won’t cost extra either should you decide to work with an agent. Your premiums will be the same as if you’d gotten the policy on your own. Plus, your agent might be able to match you with a much lower cost policy than you could have found on your own.
Captive Agents Vs. Independent Agents
Choosing an affordable life insurance policy can also depend on the type of insurance agent you choose to work with. There are two classes of insurance agents, which can be grouped into captive and independent.
Captive insurance agents are licensed agents that are employed by an actual life insurance company. These life insurance agents are often associated with some large insurance companies such as State Farm, American Family, Country Financial, etc.
Because captive agents are hired directly by an insurance company, they can only sell you an insurance policy offered through the insurance company they are employed with. While captive agents can offer excellent insurance options backed by very well known companies, they are limited to their options.
Opposite of captive agents, you have another type of insurance agent referred to as independent agents. Independent agents are brokers who can contract with multiple insurance companies except for “captive companies.”
Working with an independent life insurance agent has many advantages, especially in finding the most affordable life insurance plan. Since these life insurance agents are not locked into selling one insurance companies plan, they can access several different companies’ plans.
That means you can feel a lot more confident knowing you got the best possible rate when you use a broker or independent agent. So, if you’re planning to use an agent, make sure they’re independent or a broker.
Tip #5 Don't Wait to Buy Coverage
If you’re thinking about buying a life insurance policy, there will be no better time than right now. One thing that will always drive up the cost of your life insurance premium is your age. The younger you are when you buy life insurance, the less you’ll pay for it.
We’ve said it before and will say it again, life insurance rates are greatly based upon your overall risk to the life insurance company paying out a potential death claim. Two big factors that determine your risk:
A younger person is less likely to experience the same health risk as a person in their senior years, and because of that, the insurance company can offer lower rates to younger customers.
Insurance companies also take into consideration life expectancy. While not every young applicant will be in the greatest health, their life expectancy will likely be greater than those in their senior years.
For every year you grow older, your life expectancy shortens, and the insurance views that as a potential risk of paying out a potential death claim. To offset that potential risk, the insurance company will charge a higher premium.
While age plays a large part in the cost of life insurance, it also plays a large part in qualifying for certain life insurance plans. Take term insurance, for example.
Term insurance has an age limit for each term length. Let’s say you wanted a 30 year term insurance plan, but your current age is 59. The option for a 30 year term plan would not be an option since the cutoff is age 58. The next closest option would be a 25 year plan.
The below table represents each level premium term length and the maximum issue age to which an applicant can apply for coverage. It should be noted that the maximum issue ages for each term length will vary depending on the company, and not every company will offer every term length.
Term insurance lengths and age
|Term Length||Maximum Issue Age|
|10 Year Term||Age 80|
|15 Year Term||Age 75|
|20 Year Term||Age 70|
|25 Year Term||Age 65|
|30 Year Term||Age 58|
|35 Year Term||Age 50|
|40 Year Term||Age 45|
If you’re considering a specific term insurance length and you’re close to the age in which it will no longer be available, it’s best to act now.
Term insurance lengths are not the only plans that work along with age. The option to apply for life insurance coverage without taking a medical exam has become widely available by many insurance companies.
However, that option does have a few limitations, including age. The option to apply for life insurance without a medical exam is often limited to 60 to 65, depending on the insurance company.
Generally, after age 65, the option to apply for life insurance will require a medical exam unless it’s a senior product such as burial insurance, which is always underwritten using simplified underwriting.
The bottom line is, don’t wait until years when your coverage will cost more. The sooner you buy coverage, the less you’ll pay for it and the more options you will have. You can lock in a great rate now and keep that rate for years to come, even if your health declines.
Age nearest life insurance
Age nearest life insurance is not something that most insurance shoppers are aware of, and it could save you some money knowing this little pro tip.
When you receive a quote for life insurance, the initial rates are based on a few different variables, one of which includes your birthdate.
The majority of insurance companies will base their rates on an age nearest basis. This means that your age is automatically rounded up if you are within six months of your next birthday.
As an insurance shopper, it won’t be easy to know which companies are basing your quotes off an age nearest rate or an actual age rate as that it is not generally displayed on most quote results.
To help you figure out which companies are basing your life insurance quotes on an actual basis or age nearest basis, we have put together this helpful table.
|Insurer||Actual Age||Age Nearest|
|Mutual of Omaha||X|
Why is it important to know which companies quote based on age nearest?
As you can see from the above table, multiple companies utilize age nearest when determining rates.
While it may make sense that a company that uses an actual age would provide cheaper rates than a company that uses age nearest, that’s not always the case.
However, if you are shopping for life insurance coverage and an age nearest company you wanted to apply with appeared to be more expensive than the others, you may be able to lower the cost by requesting to “save age.”
Saving age is a request that needs to be done at the time of the application. As long as the insured is within six months of their next birthday, the applicant can request to backdate their coverage to one day prior to when they would reach the six-month mark saving their current age.
While this can make life insurance affordable, you will have to pay the backdated premiums required to save age.
Tip #6 Improve Your Overall Health
All insurance companies base your price on the risk of insuring you. That’s why the price of your house impacts your home owner’s insurance, and the safety features of your car impact your car insurance.
When it comes to life insurance, the risk of insuring you is the risk you’ll die during the timeframe you are insured with the insurance company. Your health plays a vital role in determining that risk.
While there are things about your health you can’t control, there are a few easier things you can have some level of control, including:
- Your weight
- Your blood pressure
- Your cholesterol
If you know you’re going to be applying for life insurance soon, it’s a good idea to pick up some healthy habits.
Some steps you can take in the weeks before you take a life insurance exam include:
- Exercise regularly
- Eat less fat and sugar
- Eat more whole grains and lean protein
- Get plenty of sleep
- Stay hydrated with ample water
- Cut back on or eliminate alcohol
Even a few weeks of these healthy habits can make a big difference in your weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. It could be enough to move you into a better rate class and help you secure a more affordable rate. Plus, there’s never a bad time to get a little healthier.
However, it’s important to point out that you shouldn’t go on a crash diet before your exam. Most experts agree that losing one to two pounds a week is safe and healthy.
It’s not a good idea to try to lose more weight. Not only is it unsafe, but it might also actually make your health exam results worse. Rapid weight loss can leave you dehydrated, and without the nutrients you need for your body to work properly.
So, even though you’ll weigh less, you won’t be healthier.
By comparison, a slow weight loss can help steady your blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, and other health reads. Plus, you don’t need to lose a lot to make an impact.
A weight loss of even 5 to 10 pounds can improve your overall health and help you qualify for a better insurance rate. In many cases, it only takes a few pounds to change your body mass index (BMI) and shift you into a different life insurance rate classification.
So, a steady weight loss over a month or two will make an impact.
Consider a no medical exam policy
Has it been a while since your last annual physical? Not sure what your lab results might show if you have to take a medical exam?
Suppose it has been a little while since your last exam. It may be a great opportunity to consider a no medical exam life insurance policy. A bad lab result can greatly impact a life insurance decision leading to higher rates or a possible decline for coverage altogether.
No medical exam life insurance offers several benefits, with the largest being able to skip the entire life insurance medical exam altogether. Instead, life insurance companies utilize algorithms and data checks such as a list of prescriptions ever prescribed, status on past insurance applications, and driving history reports, to name a few.
All of these reports help assist underwriting with approving coverage without the potential of a medical exam.
Don't put off getting life insurance with a health condition
We understand that getting healthier is easier said than done. For that reason, you shouldn’t hold off on getting life insurance with a pre-existing health condition, especially if your family needs the coverage.
If your health is less than ideal, you will still want to apply for coverage and lock in your rate. Remember, for every year you get older, your insurance premium will be higher if you wait.
Once you have been approved, you can work on improving your health.
Generally, after you have had your life insurance policy for at least one year, you can request a “rate reduction” if your feel that your health or weight has improved to where it would better your original health classification.
If your health has improved to the point where it would change the originally approved health classification, the insurance company will adjust the health classification and the premium based on what it should have been at the age when you originally applied for the coverage.
Tip #7 Quit Smoking
Smokers always pay more for life insurance. Smoking increases your risk of multiple health conditions, including:
- Heart disease
- Lung diseases
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
It also increases your risk of getting a serious infection. Since your risk of so many diseases increases when you smoke, your life insurance premiums will, too. Smokers often pay double the rates of non-smokers for their life insurance.
So, if you’ve been thinking about quitting, an upcoming life insurance application could be the motivation you’ve been looking for. You’ll be healthier, and you’ll save on monthly premiums.
Even if you’re not ready to quit, stopping for a few weeks can be a huge help. Even quitting for two or three weeks can help you get much better results on your health exam. You’ll still need to pay the smokers rate, but your improved exam results will likely lower your premiums.
Keep in mind that if you do smoke, you need to disclose it on your application. If you quit for a few weeks so that nicotine doesn’t show up in your blood work during your exam, that’s a type of insurance fraud.
If the company finds out later that you were a smoker, your policy could be canceled. Lying on your application could also cause your beneficiary not to receive their payout, especially if you die within the two-year contestability period.
It takes one year tobacco free to get non-smoker rates
Life insurance rates for a smoker can be expensive. Quitting is tough, but when you do, rest assure you will see a drastic decrease in your premium.
If you’re a current smoker getting ready to purchase life insurance and decide at some point that you’re ready to quit, you will need to be smoke-free for at least one full year before you can be considered at non-smoker rates.
If, after one year or longer of being smoke-free with most insurance companies will allow rate reduction request for consideration to switch from a tobacco rating to a non-tobacco rating.
|Preferred Plus||Preferred||Standard Plus||Standard|
|3-5 years tobacco free||2-3 years tobacco free||1-2 years tobacco free||1 year tobacco free|
Affordable life insurance for smokeless tobacco and pipe smokers
If you are a current tobacco chewer, tobacco pipe user or smoke an occasional cigar, there are companies that will approve life insurance coverage at non-tobacco rates.
Need help quitting?
Call: 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).
You can get free support to quit smoking when you call 1-800-QUIT-NOW. An experienced coach can help you make a plan to quit, match with resources in your area, and more.
You can check out even more free resources at Smokefree.gov.
Tip #8 Reconsider Adding Policy Riders
Policy riders such as accidental death, children’s term rider, and waiver of premium all provide an extra benefit in addition to the death benefit protection.
The problem with adding any of these policy riders to a life insurance policy is that they also add an extra cost to your premium.
If you’re looking for the most affordable life insurance coverage, you’re going to want to skip on adding any optional policy riders to your life insurance coverage.
There are a few policy riders on the bright side that many companies will include with your coverage at no additional cost. These riders include:
- Conversion benefit rider
- Terminal illness rider
- Living benefit riders
A conversion benefit rider can be found on nearly every term insurance policy. The rider allows a policyholder to switch their term coverage into permanent coverage without providing evidence of insurability.
The terminal illness rider is one of the most common life insurance riders known. Having a terminal illness rider allows a policyholder to advance the death benefit if diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Living benefit riders are a fairly new rider that has gained popularity quickly as a must-have rider. It is not a policy rider that every company offers, and some companies that do offer it may charge an extra premium to have it, while some include it as a free benefit.
What makes the living benefit rider desirable is that it is extremely beneficial in providing financial protection against illness, specifically a chronic or critical illness. If an insured becomes diagnosed with one of these illnesses, the death benefit can be advanced, similar to the terminal illness rider.
When shopping for an affordable life insurance policy, be sure to include plans that offer some of these free policy riders.
Tip #9 Pay Your Life Insurance Premiums Annually
You’ve probably seen this kind of discount before. Companies that accept monthly payments will often give you a discount if you pay for an entire year upfront instead. You’ll see this common discount in everything from subscriptions to car insurance.
The reasoning is simple: you can’t miss a payment if you’ve already paid the entire amount upfront. That means there is less risk to the company. When you make monthly payments, the company is extending you both convenience and financing, and they’ll often charge you more for it.
The same applies to life insurance. If the company offers it as an option, you should save a few extra dollars by paying annually instead of monthly.
For example, let’s say you took out a 20-year, $500,000 policy and were quoted a price of $55.41 a month. The annual cost for the coverage is $651.84 a year.
If you multiple the monthly premium payment by twelve months, you get a total of $664.92. That $13.08 a year difference from paying monthly versus annually might not seem like a huge difference, but over 20 years of paying your policy, you’d save $261.60.
This may not be a large saving, but if you’re looking for the most affordable life insurance tips, this is one that should not be overlooked.
You can often save even more if your premiums are higher.
Every company offers an annual payment mode, but it won’t work for every family’s budget. For many, it’s easier on their finances to pay the monthly premium. However, if a larger lump sum once a year will work for your budget, it’s worth looking into if you can swing the payments.
Tip #10 Look Into Multiple Policy Discounts
This is another type of discount you might have run into before. Multiple policy discounts are offered by companies when you take out more than one policy with them. For example, you’ll often save money if your car and homeowner’s insurance are with the same company. The same is true for life insurance.
In fact, you can often start looking for life insurance by seeing if anyone you currently have a different type of policy with a company that also offers life insurance.
Major names like Progressive, State Farm, and USAA are among many companies that offer multiple insurance types. You can often get a multi-policy discount for combining your home and auto insurance policies with these companies.
Keep in mind that just because you already do business with a company doesn’t mean they’re the best place to get life insurance. It’s always a good idea to shop around and get quotes. You might find much lower rates from a company that’s new to you. However, if you do end up with multiple policies from the same company, a discount might be available.
Other potential discounts on life insurance
There are a few other discounts you can use to save a little on your life insurance. For example, some companies might offer you a discount for a certain benefit amount as a way of encouraging people to get a slightly higher amount of coverage.
So, you might get a discount for bumping your benefit amount up from $450,000 to $500,000. This is what is referred to as a rate band in life insurance jargon.
Not as common, but you may be able to find some companies that can offer discounts for members of certain groups. This can include:
- Active duty military
- Nurses and other healthcare workers
- Government employees
- Members of certain unions or professional groups
If you’re a member of any of these groups, check to see if a discount is available.
Affordable Life Insurance - Final Thought
Working with a broker or agent is a great way to save on your life insurance. They can help you figure out how much coverage you need, match you with companies, help you find discounts, get you quotes, and more.
If you’re ready to start shopping, let No Medical Exam Quotes help. We can show you affordable quotes from top companies. Let us help you find coverage today.
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