Life insurance can provide numerous benefits to both individuals and businesses. It should be included as a part of any good financial plan. Should an individual pass away, a life insurance policy can provide a variety of important benefits to that person’s loved ones, including paying off debts, covering funeral and other related expenses, making up for lost income, or paying for a child’s future education.
In addition, life insurance is also used by many for the purpose of paying estate taxes that are due. The purchase of life insurance should be considered by anyone who has loved ones and / or business associates that are depending upon them for financial support.
There are essentially two primary types of life insurance policies on the market today – these include term and permanent. Term life insurance is considered to be temporary coverage. Every year the policy holder pays a premium in order to cover the cost of this pure death benefit protection.
Although term life insurance typically starts out with a lower premium in relation to permanent insurance with a similar death benefit, term policies build no cash value and, after a predetermined number of years, it must be renewed – pending the health of the insured.
How Does Whole Life Insurance Work?
Whole life insurance is a form of permanent life insurance protection. These policies offer a fixed premium to the policy holder that will not increase over time, along with a guaranteed amount of death benefit. In addition, these types of policies offer a cash value feature that is typically guaranteed to grow each year.
During the early years of a whole life insurance policy, the premiums may be higher than those of term insurance. However, the cash value build up that is contained within a whole life plan can grow significantly over time, and can be accessed by the policy holder through cash surrenders or policy loans.
This cash accumulates on a tax deferred basis, allowing the policy holder to potentially grow their funds faster than they can in other savings types of vehicles that are taxed on their growth each year.
The premiums that are paid for whole life insurance are based on several factors, including the insured’s current age, health status, and amount of the death benefit desired. They are also determined based on the amount that is paid for the pure death benefit protection in combination with the amount that will be placed in the cash value component of the policy.
There are several different variations of whole life insurance plans. In addition to pure whole life policies, some other types may include:
- Universal Whole Life Insurance. Universal whole life insurance offers the policy holder more flexible policy options. For example, with this type of policy, the death benefit, the cash value, and the premiums may fluctuate according to a set minimum payment amount. If the policy holder decides to pay more than the minimum amount of premium, then the excess amount will be invested into a general account by the insurance company that will give the insured additional cash value.
- Variable Whole Life Insurance. Variable whole life insurance policies allow the policy holder to put their funds in the cash value component of the policy into various types of investments. These types of policies may be considered more risky, as the cash value – as well as a portion of the death benefit amount – may fluctuate up and down with the movement of the underlying investments. With these types of policies, however, the premium amount will remain fixed throughout the life of the policy.
The Many Benefits
Unlike term life insurance policies, whole life insurance can provide the policy holder with a guaranteed amount of death benefit with a premium that will never change. In addition to a set amount of protection and a level premium, whole life can also offer policy holders:
- Tax deferred growth on cash value earnings
- Death benefit that is income tax free to beneficiaries
- Cash for surrender or loans, usually tax free (although funds that are borrowed must usually be paid back with interest)
- The potential to earn additional cash in the form of dividends
- The ability to use some or all of the death benefit proceeds for needs during life such as long term care expenses
- The potential to add additional coverage at a later time
- The ability of business owners or partners to use funds for finding a replacement for the loss of a key individual or executive
Who Should Consider Whole Life Insurance?
Due to its level premium amount and the accumulation of cash value, a whole life insurance policy could be a good choice for those with long range insurance protection needs. Since whole life insurance protects you for your “whole life,” you have the peace of mind in knowing that the death benefit protection will be there for loved ones when they need it, yet the funds in the cash value component of the policy are available for needs during your life.
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