About Life Insurance
Principal types of Life Insurance
There are two major types of life insurance—term and whole life. Whole life is sometimes called permanent life insurance, and it encompasses several subcategories, including traditional whole life, universal life, variable life and variable universal life. In 2003, about 6.4 million individual life insurance policies bought were term and about 7.1 million were whole life.
Term Life Insurance
Term Insurance is the simplest form of life insurance. It pays only if death occurs during the term of the policy, which is usually from one to 30 years. Most term policies have no other benefit provisions.
There are two basic types of term life insurance policies:
- Level Term - means that the death benefit stays the same throughout the duration of the policy.
- Decreasing Term - means that teh death benefit drops, usually in one-year increments, over the course of the policy's term.
Whole Life Insurance
Also known as "Permanent Insurance," Whole Life pays a death benefit whenever you die—even if you live to 100!
There are three basic types of whole life insurance (and variations within each type)
- Traditional Whole Life - In the case of traditional whole life, both the death benefit and the premium are designed to stay the same (level) throughout the life of the policy. This is the most common type of permanent insurance policy. It offers a death benefit along with a savings account. If you pick this type of life insurance policy, you are agreeing to pay a certain amount in premiums on a regular basis for a specific death benefit. The savings element would grow based on dividends the company pays to you.
- Universal Life - This type of policy offers you more flexibility than whole life insurance. You may be able to increase the death benefit, if you pass a medical examination. The savings vehicle (called a cash value account) generally earns a money market rate of interest. After money has accumulated in your account, you will also have the option of altering your premium payments – providing there is enough money in your account to cover the costs. This can be a useful feature if your economic situation has suddenly changed. However, you would need to keep in mind that if you stop or reduce your premiums and the saving accumulation gets used up, the policy might lapse and your life insurance coverage will end.
- Variable Universal Life - This policy combines death protection with a savings account that you can invest in stocks, bonds and money market mutual funds. The value of your policy may grow more quickly, but you also have more risk. If your investments do not perform well, your cash value and death benefit may decrease. Some policies, however, guarantee that your death benefit will not fall below a minimum level.
What is an Annuity?
In its most general sense, an annuity is an agreement for one person or organization to pay another a stream or series of payments. Usually the term “annuity” relates to a contract between you and a life insurance company, but a charity or a trust can take the place of the insurance company.
How are annuities different from Life Insurance?
Both annuities and life insurance should be considered in your long-term financial plan. While both include death benefits, you buy life insurance in the event you die too soon and an annuity in case you live too long. In other words, life insurance provides economic protection to your loved ones if you die before your financial obligations to them are met, while annuities guard against outliving your assets.
Life insurance is a crucial step in planning for your future and your family’s future. It can fulfill promises and obligations to your family when you are no longer living by replacing income for dependents, paying final expenses and taxes, and creating an inheritance for your heirs..
Get the coverage you need
Are you unsure about the specific exposures and risks you face? Or the protection you need? Our insurance needs analysis tool is a good place to start. It will help you to identify your potential exposures to loss and list the coverages that may be appropriate for you. Click the link below to access our free individual risk analysis tool.
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