Life insurance protection comes in many forms, and not all policies are created equal. While the death benefit amounts may be the same, the costs, structure, durations, vary across the types of policies.
Whole Life Insurance
This provides guaranteed insurance protection for the entire life of the insured, otherwise known as permanent coverage. These policies carry a “cash value” component that grows tax deferred at a contractually guaranteed amount, usually a low interest rate, until the contract is surrendered. The premiums are usually level for the life of the insured and the death benefit is guaranteed for the insured’s lifetime. With whole life payments, part of your premium is applied toward the insurance portion of your policy, another part of your premium goes toward administrative expenses and the balance of your premium goes toward the investment, or cash, portion of your policy. Your basis is the amount of premiums you have paid into the policy minus any prior dividends paid or previous withdrawals.
Universal Life Insurance
This is also known as flexible premium or adjustable life, is a variation of whole life insurance. Like whole life, it is also a permanent policy providing cash value benefits based on current interest rates. The feature that distinguishes this policy from whole life is that the premiums, cash values and level amount of protection can each be adjusted up or down during the contract term as the insured’s needs change.
Variable Life Insurance
This is designed to combine the traditional protection and savings features of whole life insurance with the growth potential of investment funds. This type of policy is comprised of two distinct components: the general account and the separate account. The general account is the reserve or liability account of the insurance provider, and is not allocated to the individual policy. The separate account is comprised of various investment funds within the insurance company’s portfolio, such as an equity fund, a money market fund, a bond fund, or some combination of these.
Term Life Insurance
This is one of the most common policies. Term insurance can help protect your beneficiaries against financial loss resulting from your death; it pays the face amount of the policy, but only provides protection for a definite, but limited, amount of time. Term policies do not build cash values and the maximum term period is usually 30 years. Term policies are useful when there is a limited time needed for protection and when the dollars available for coverage are limited. The premiums for these types of policies are significantly lower than the costs for whole life.
No matter what policy you have, or are looking to get, make sure to contact us with any questions that you might have.