Types of Life Insurance
The Basic Types of Life Insurance
One of the best ways to protect against the financial consequences of a primary wage earner’s premature death is life insurance. However, choosing from the many types of life insurance policies that are available can be a difficult process. A few main categories are described here to help you search for a life insurance policy that is appropriate for you. Keep in mind that the cost and availability of insurance depend on factors such as age, health, and the type and amount of insurance purchased. Before implementing a strategy involving insurance, it would be prudent to make sure that you are insurable.
Term life insurance
Term life insurance is the most basic and usually the most affordable. Policies can be purchased for a specified period of time. If you die within the time period defined in your policy, the insurance company will pay your beneficiaries the face value of your policy. Policies can usually be bought for 5 to 45 year time spans. Annual renewable term insurance usually can be renewed every year without proof of insurability, but the premium may increase with each renewal. Term insurance is useful if you can afford only a low-cost option or you need life insurance only for a certain amount of time (such as until your children graduate from college or to cover a mortgage or loss of income due to death).
Permanent life insurance
The other major category is permanent life insurance. You pay a premium for as long as you live, and a benefit will be paid to your beneficiaries upon your death. Permanent life insurance typically comes with a “cash value” savings element.
Whole life insurance
This type of permanent life insurance has a premium that stays the same throughout the life of the policy. Although the premiums may seem higher than the risk of death in the early years, they can accumulate cash value and are invested in the company’s general investment portfolio. You may be able to borrow funds from the cash value or surrender your policy for its face value, if necessary.
Universal life insurance
Universal life coverage goes one step further. You have the same type of coverage and cash value as you would with whole life, but with greater flexibility. Once money has accumulated in your cash-value account, you may be able to vary the frequency, as well as the amount, of your premiums. In fact, it may be possible to structure the policy so that the invested cash value eventually covers your premium costs completely.