If you are looking into purchasing life insurance, you have probably heard about both term life insurance and whole life insurance. Before you decide on one or the other based on what you have heard or what your insurance agent tells you, you need to understand the meanings of “term” and “whole,” and familiarize yourself pros and cons of each one (and how these pros and cons will affect you).
First, we have term life insurance. It covers its policyholders for a certain amount of time, and that time can be up to 30 years. It costs much less than whole life insurance and policyholders can be covered by level-term premiums and annual renewable premiums. With level-term premiums, the premiums stay the same throughout the duration of the policy, whereas with annual renewable premiums, the premiums increase as the policyholder ages.
Next, we have whole life insurance, which combines term life insurance with an investment component. There are two elements involved with whole life insurance-the mortality charge, which pays for the insurance coverage, and the investment component, which earns interest and claims to act as a savings mechanism. However, as the policyholder ages, the mortality charge increases and the investment component decreases. Plus, the cash surrender value (the amount you would get back if you cashed in your policy) is not always what it appears to be. It fluctuates with markets, making its relation to reality a difficult one.
In the end, if you are on a budget and in search of a good, affordable life insurance policy, term life insurance is probably the best option for you. It is affordable and does not include more coverage that what you actually need. However, if you are wealthy enough to purchase whole life insurance, it can act as an estate-planning vehicle, applying the proceeds to your estate taxes rather than leaving your family to fight in out with the government.
Another problem is that whole life is extremely expensive, and if you’re on a limited budget, you may not be able to afford all the insurance coverage you actually need.
Wealthy people sometimes use whole life policies as an estate-planning vehicle. They can set up an insurance trust, which applies the proceeds of the policy to their estate taxes when they die. That can save their heirs the considerable expense of settling the estate with Uncle Sam.