Life insurance isn't something you buy and never think about again.

Your coverage needs change as your life changes. Here are five times when you should review life insurance coverage to make sure it meets your needs.

1. Marriage

As you and your spouse build a life together, your finances become entwined. What if you or your beloved die tomorrow? Would the surviving spouse be able to pay the mortgage and other household bills, pay off debts, and cover funeral costs?

2. Baby

Both parents should have life insurance to protect the children in case one or both parents die prematurely. Purchase enough life insurance to replace a breadwinner's income and to pay for services -- such as day care -- normally provided by a stay-at-home parent. Consider ongoing expenses, such as the mortgage, groceries and day care, as well as long-term expenses, such as college tuition.

3. New business

Life insurance comes into play in a variety of ways for small-business owners:

  • Imagine you take out a large loan to finance a business and die before the debt is repaid. An individual life insurance policy can help your family pay off the loan and avoid having to sell the business for less than it is worth.
  • Key-person insurance pays out if an essential employee dies. The insurance helps the business survive until the key person is replaced.
  • A buy-sell agreement life insurance policy provides money for the surviving business partner to buy out the deceased partner's share of the business at a predetermined price.

4. Divorce

Is your ex-spouse the beneficiary on your life insurance policy? Then your ex will collect the death benefit, even if you remarry. Contact the life insurance company to change the beneficiary, unless you want your ex to have the proceeds. Some divorced couples maintain their exes as beneficiaries for the sake of their children. Another alternative is to set up a trust for your children and name the trust as a beneficiary instead of an ex-spouse.

5. Retirement

Retirement isn't too late to consider life insurance. Permanent life insurance, which covers you for your entire lifetime, can help protect a large estate. Your heirs use the proceeds to pay estate taxes, so they don't have to sell off property to pay the government. Life insurance can also help provide for a surviving spouse and pay for final expenses, such as funeral costs and medical bills.

Work with an insurance agent you trust to review life insurance coverage every few years and make sure the policies keep up with your life.