In 2014, U.S. consumers will have a new way to shop for health insurance. Government administered exchanges will offer a marketplace for individuals to find the coverage they need, and many consumers are thinking the exchanges might be a useful tool for other insurance products as well.

That's according to finance and insurance industry group LIMRA. It conducted a study to gauge consumer perceptions of health reform and discovered many think health insurance exchanges could be helpful in shopping for other insurance products.

Of those surveyed, the following percentages of respondents indicated an interest in shopping for products other than health insurance on the exchanges.

  • Life insurance: 45 percent
  • Dental plans: 67 percent
  • Critical illness products: 56 percent
  • Disability insurance: 50 percent
  • IRAs and annuities: 30 percent

Consumers may want an easier shopping process

One of the appeals of the exchanges may be their convenience. Although not yet launched, they are envisioned as an online marketplace where consumers can shop for health insurance coverage that meets certain guidelines which helps ensure an 'apples to apples' comparison of plans.

Consumers may be seeking the same type of process when searching for life insurance coverage and other financial products. Instead of having to navigate the differences between term life, whole life and universal life policies, survey respondents may interested in having policies consolidated in one location and grouped with similar products.

Tips for buying life insurance

However, for the time being, consumers must go through more traditional channels to buy coverage.

Currently, life insurance can be purchased through workplace benefit programs or as individual policies. Those searching for individual coverage can find life insurance quotes either online, from individual companies or through insurance brokers.

The following steps can be used to find the best life insurance rates.

  • Determine the appropriate level of coverage needed. Online life insurance calculators can make it easy to find the right amount.
  • Compare premiums for the same type of policy. Whole life will have higher monthly premiums than term life, but premiums are guaranteed for life. In addition, whole life policies build cash value unlike term life.
  • Determine the riders or benefits associated with each policy. Some plans offer accelerated benefits or disability coverage that add value to life insurance and may justify slightly higher premiums.
  • Shop around every few years. Life insurance rates are constantly fluctuating and in recent years, they have been on the decline. Get new life insurance quotes every 3-5 years to ensure you are still getting the best deal.

While shopping for life insurance may one day be as easy as logging on to an insurance exchange, for now, consumers can use these steps to find right level of coverage at the best price possible.