I received this question from Courtney:
“Can you talk about permanent life insurance, particularly whole life? I’d like to know when it makes sense to buy it instead of a term policy, especially when you’re young and healthy.”
Permanent life insurance comes in many shapes and sizes. In this 2-part series we’ll cover the basics so you know how it stacks up against a term life insurance policy. Plus, I’ll give you tips to buy permanent life insurance, if it’s the right choice for you.
In Courtney’s question, she mentions the two main types of life insurance: permanent and temporary, which is also known as term insurance.
Term life insurance covers you for a specified period of time only, like 10 or 20 years. You pay a fixed annual premium and receive a guaranteed death benefit.
Let’s say you have a $500,000 term policy that covers you through the end of 2030 and your spouse is the beneficiary. If you die before the end of 2030, your spouse would be entitled to a death benefit of $500,000. But if you die after 2030, your beneficiary wouldn’t receive a dime because your policy would be expired.
If you buy term life when you’re relatively young and healthy, it’s very inexpensive. For instance, if you’re in your 40s, a $500,000 policy might cost a few hundred dollars per year. You can typically renew a term policy for an additional term before it expires; however, as you get older the price increases significantly.
Permanent life insurance, on the other hand, covers you for your entire life, no matter if you live to be 100 years old.
In addition to providing a death benefit for your beneficiary, it’s also a financial investment. A portion of each premium you pay goes into an account that builds “cash value” on a tax-deferred basis. This is what makes permanent policies much more complex and expensive than term.