A life insurance policy is a contract with an insurance company. In exchange for premiums (payments), the insurance company provides a lump-sum payment, known as a death benefit, to beneficiaries in the event of the insured’s death. Typically, life insurance is chosen based on the needs and goals of the owner. Term life insurance generally provides protection for a set period of time, while permanent insurance, such as whole and universal life, provides lifetime coverage. It’s important to note that death benefits from all types of life insurance are generally income tax-free.1 There are many varieties of life insurance. Some of the more common types are discussed below.
- Term life insurance
- Term life insurance is designed to provide financial protection for a specific period of time, such as 10 or 20 years. Typically, premiums are level and guaranteed for that time. After that period, policies may offer continued coverage, usually at a substantially higher premium rate. Term life insurance is generally a less costly option than permanent life insurance.
- Universal life insurance
- Universal life insurance is another type of permanent life insurance designed to provide lifetime coverage. Unlike whole life insurance, universal life insurance policies are flexible and may allow you to raise or lower your premium or coverage amounts throughout your lifetime. Like whole life insurance, universal life also has a tax-deferred savings component, which may build wealth over time. Additionally, due to its lifetime coverage, universal life typically has higher premiums than term.
- Whole life insurance
- Whole life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance designed to provide lifetime coverage. Because of the lifetime coverage period, whole life usually has higher premiums than term life. Policy premiums are typically fixed, and, unlike term, whole life has a cash value, which functions as a savings component and may accumulate tax-deferred over time.