In this article, you will learn

  • What Is Term-Life Insurance and How Does It Work?
  • Term life insurance vs. whole life insurance: what’s the difference?
  • What Is the Main Difference Between Term and Whole Life Insurance?

What Is Term-Life Insurance and How Does It Work?

Term life insurance provides you with health coverage for a specified period, typically between ten and thirty years. Following the expiration of a term policy, premiums may be adjusted based on the policyholder’s age, life expectancy, and health. While if we talk about whole life insurance, it covers the policyholder for the remainder of their years. Unlike term life insurance, whole life insurance includes a savings component in which the policyholder’s cash value accumulates. By withdrawing or borrowing against the savings component of their insurance, the holder can use it as a source of equity.

If you die within the policy’s life, the insurer will pay the face value of the policy to your beneficiaries. Beneficiaries can use the cash benefit, which is normally tax-free, to pay for medical and funeral expenditures, as well as consumer debt and mortgage debt. If your coverage expires before you die, you will not be reimbursed. After a term policy expires, you may be able to renew it, but your premiums will be revised based on your age.

Term life insurance has little value aside from the guaranteed death benefit. There are no savings options available, such as those found in a whole life insurance policy.

Because it only pays out for a short time and only provides a death benefit, term life insurance is usually the most economical alternative. A healthy 35-year-old nonsmoker, for example, may typically receive a $250,000 face value 20-year level-premium policy for $20 to $30 per month.

Depending on the provider, purchasing a whole life equivalent would have significantly higher premiums, perhaps $200 to $300 per month or more. Because the majority of term life insurance policies expire without paying a death benefit, the insurer faces less risk than with a permanent life policy. Insurance companies can pass along cost savings to clients in the form of cheaper premiums as a result of the reduced risk.

Interest rates, the financial condition of the insurance company, and state legislation all impact premiums. Companies frequently provide lower rates at “breakpoint” coverage amounts of $100,000, $250,000, $500,000, and $1,000,000.0.

Term Life Insurance as an Example

In the unlikely event that he dies young, George desires to protect his family. He pays $50 per month for a $500,000 10-year term life insurance policy. The beneficiary will receive $500,000 if George dies during the first ten years of the policy. If he dies after turning 40 and the coverage has ended, his beneficiary will be left with nothing. If he keeps the coverage, the premiums will be greater than previously because the premiums will be calculated using his age of 40 rather than 30.

If George is diagnosed with a terminal disease during the first year of his coverage, he will most likely be unable to renew it after it has expired. Some plans offer guaranteed re-insurability (i.e., no proof of insurability is required); nonetheless, these features raise the policy’s cost.

Term life insurance types

There is a list of several types of term life insurance, and your unique circumstances will determine the best one for you.

Level Term Policies

These are also known as Level-Premium Policies, which last for a set period.

These policies cover you for a specific amount of time, usually between 10 and 30 years. The death benefit and premium are both fixed. Because actuaries must account for increased insurance costs over the policy’s practical life, the premium is significantly higher than yearly renewing term life insurance.

Yearly renewable term (YRT)

Yearly renewable term (YRT) plans have no expiration date and can be renewed year after year without providing proof of insurability. Rates vary year to year, and premiums rise as the covered person grows older. Even though there is no set term, premiums can become prohibitively expensive as people get older, making the coverage undesirable.

Reduced Term Policies

Following a specified schedule, the death benefit on these policies lowers each year. For the duration of the insurance, the insured pays a fixed, level premium. Decreasing term insurance is frequently used in conjunction with a mortgage to match coverage to the falling principle of the mortgage.

Once you’ve chosen the policy that’s right for you, do your research on the firms you’re considering to ensure you get the most affordable term life insurance.

Term Life Insurance’s Advantages

Term life insurance appeals to young individuals with children. Parents may receive a lot of coverage for a relatively low price. When a parent dies, the substantial benefit may compensate for lost income.

These policies are also great for people who simply need a small amount of life insurance for a short period. For example, the policyholder may decide that their survivors will have collected sufficient liquid assets to self-insure by the time the policy ends.

Term life insurance vs. permanent life insurance: what is the difference?

The key differences between a term life insurance policy and a permanent insurance policy, such as universal life insurance, are the policy time, the development of a cash value, and the cost. Your needs will determine the ideal solution for you; here are some things to consider.

Premiums Costs

Customers who want a lot of coverage for a low price might choose term life insurance. Whole life insurance customers pay more premiums for less coverage, but they have the assurance of knowing they are protected for the rest of their lives.

While many people select term life insurance because it is less expensive, they are paying premiums for a long time and will receive no benefits once the term finishes. Term life insurance premiums climb with age and may eventually become prohibitively expensive. Renewal term life insurance premiums may be higher than permanent life insurance premiums at the time of the original term life policy’s issuance.

Coverage Availability

If the policyholder gets a severe condition during the policy’s term, the firm may refuse to renew coverage unless the insurance is guaranteed renewable. Permanent insurance provides coverage for the remainder of one’s life as long as premiums are paid.

The worth of an investment

Certain clients prefer permanent life insurance because it can be utilized as an investment or savings vehicle. Each premium payment includes a part that goes toward the cash value, which is guaranteed to rise. Certain programs offer dividends that can be cashed in or stored. Over time, the growth in cash value may be sufficient to cover the cost of coverage. Additionally, certain tax advantages exist, like tax-deferred growth and tax-free cash access.

Financial gurus caution that when compared to other financial vehicles such as mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, a cash value policy’s growth rate is frequently pitiful (ETFs). Additionally, high administrative costs usually dilute the rate of return. As a result, the saying “buy term and invest the difference” has gained currency. On the other hand, the performance is constant and tax-advantaged, which is beneficial in a volatile stock market.

Other Considerations

In the term vs. permanent insurance debate, there doesn’t seem to be a single answer that works for everyone. Additionally, consider the following:

  • Is the rate of return on investment sufficient to entice you to invest?
  • Is there a loan provision and other characteristics in the permanent policy?
  • Does the policyholder own or plan to own a business that requires insurance?
  • Can life insurance be used to tax-shelter a large estate?

Convertible Term Life Insurance vs. Term Life Insurance

Convertible term life insurance is a term life policy that includes a conversion rider. The rider ensures that term insurance policies that are now in force or about to expire can be changed to permanent policies without going through underwriting or demonstrating insurability. The conversion rider should enable you to convert to any of the insurance company’s permanent insurance policies.

The rider’s primary qualities are that it maintains the term policy’s original health rating upon conversion, even if you acquire health problems or become uninsurable later on, and that it allows you to choose when and how much coverage to convert. At the time of conversion, your age affects the premium for the new permanent insurance.

Naturally, since whole life insurance is more expensive than term life insurance, overall premiums will increase significantly. The advantage is that approval is guaranteed in the absence of a medical examination. Premiums cannot be increased because of medical difficulties that arise during the term’s lifetime. If you wish to add extra riders to your new policy, for example, a long-term care rider, the business may need limited or complete underwriting.

What Is the Main Difference Between Term and Whole Life Insurance?

The term life insurance covers you for a set amount of time, usually between 10 and 30 years. After a term policy expires, premiums might be revised based on the policyholder’s age, life expectancy, and health. By contrast, whole life insurance protects the policyholder for the duration of their life. Unlike term life insurance, whole life insurance includes a savings component in which the policyholder’s cash value accumulates. The holder can use the savings portion of their insurance as a source of equity by withdrawing or borrowing against it.

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance and whole life insurance are 2 of the most common types of life insurance. They are both very old and very common. It is not that insurance companies have not attempted to make it more difficult to reach a broader audience. While buying for life insurance is not as enjoyable as reading a spy novel, both share one trait: the deeper you go, the more intricate everything becomes.

However, to return to the fundamentals, what is the difference between term and whole life insurance, and which is the best option for you? We’ll go through the primary characteristics that distinguish these insurance staples.

Term life insurance is perhaps the simplest to understand, as it is straightforward insurance with no frills. The only purpose of purchasing term insurance is to ensure that your beneficiary will receive a death benefit if you die while the policy is in force. As the name implies, this basic form of insurance is only good for a specified period of time, typically five, twenty, or thirty years. After that, the policy is terminated.


Term plans are also the cheapest, frequently by a significant amount, due to these two characteristics—simplicity and finite duration. If all you want from a life insurance policy is to safeguard your family in the event of your death, term insurance is probably the best option if you can afford it. Term insurance is less expensive and can last until your child reaches maturity, so it may be a good option for single parents who want an extra safety net.

For $27.42 a month, a 30-year-old guy can buy a 20-year term coverage with a $500,000 death benefit. The average 30-year-old woman may obtain the same policy for just $21.74 due to her usually longer lifespan.


Those prices will, of course, fluctuate due to a variety of reasons. A higher death benefit or a more extended period of coverage, for example, will most likely raise rates. Furthermore, because most policies include a medical exam, any health issues could raise your rates above the average.

Because term insurance ends, you may find yourself with a large sum of money spent for no reason other than peace of mind. You also can’t utilize your term insurance investment to grow wealth or save taxes.


  • Term life insurance generally costs less than other types of life insurance.
  • It’s less complicated to comprehend than “permanent” policies.


The policy’s protection is only valid for the duration of the policy.

It can’t be utilized to develop riches or avoid paying taxes.

Whole Life Insurance

Whole life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance that differs from term insurance in two significant respects. For one thing, as long as you keep paying your premiums, it will never expire. In addition to the death benefit, it gives some “cash value,” which can be used to meet future financial requirements.


The majority of life policies are “level premium,” which means you pay the same monthly rate throughout the policy’s term. Those premiums are divided into two categories. One portion of your contribution goes toward the insurance component, while the other contributes to the growth of your cash worth over time.

Many companies offer a guaranteed interest rate (typically 1% to 2% yearly), but some also sell “participating” policies, which pay unguaranteed dividends and can boost your total return.

The cost of the whole life premium is initially higher than the insurance cost. However, as you become older, this changes and the premium is less than the usual term coverage for someone your age. This is referred to as “front-loading” your insurance coverage.

You can borrow or take a withdrawal from your cash value amount, which grows tax-deferred, at a later date to pay for costs like your child’s college tuition or house maintenance. It’s a far more adaptable financial tool than a term policy in this regard. Loans from your insurance are tax-free, but any investment gains from withdrawals will be subject to income tax.


Regrettably, the death benefit and monetary value are not entirely distinct aspects. If you take a borrowing from your policy and don’t pay it back, your death benefit will be reduced by the same amount. If you take out a $50,000 loan, your beneficiaries will receive $50,000 less, plus any interest payable, if the debt is still owed.

The biggest downside of whole life insurance is significantly more expensive than term insurance. Permanent policies are five to fifteen times more costly than term insurance with the same death benefit. The relatively high cost makes it difficult for many consumers to keep up with payments.

The complexity of whole life insurance is another possible disadvantage. If you no longer need the insurance or can no longer afford it, you can cease making payments on a term policy.

On the other hand, whole life policyholders may suffer a surrender charge of up to 10% of the cash value if they opt to cancel their policy, depending on their carrier. This charge usually decreases over time until it eventually vanishes.


  • You can borrow money against your whole life insurance coverage for future financial requirements.
  • Loans, like death benefits, are tax-free in most cases.
  • You can fix your premiums for the rest of your life.


  • Whole life insurance is substantially more expensive than term life insurance.
  • You may be charged surrender charges if you let your insurance lapse within the first several years.
  • Your death benefit will be reduced if you have any outstanding loans.

Particular Points to Consider

So, which sort of insurance is right for you and your family? If term insurance is all you can afford, the answer is simple: it’s better to have any protection than none at all.

The decision is a little difficult for those who can afford the significantly higher premiums associated with a whole life policy. Many fee-based (non-commission-earning) financial planners recommend starting with 401(k)s and individual retirement accounts (IRAs) if your objective is to save for retirement. For some people, a cash value insurance may be a better option than a fully taxable investment account after they’ve maxed out their contributions.

Some customers have particular financial requirements that a whole life policy can help them better handle. Parents with impaired children, for example, may wish to seek whole life insurance, which covers you for the rest of your life. As long as you are paying your monthly premium, you may rest assured that your children will get the death benefit from your policy.

It can also be a valuable and useful tool for small business succession planning. Business partners may obtain whole life insurance for each owner as a part of a buy-and-sell arrangement so that the remaining partners can purchase the deceased’s equity portion in the case of their death.

Final Thoughts

Whole life insurance indeed provides more financial flexibility with its cash value component. Nonetheless, because permanent policies are more complicated and costly, many buyers adhere to the ancient adage, “Buy term and invest the remainder.”