What Is Life Insurance?

Life insurance protects your family against financial hardship in the event of your death. You can choose from various types of policies, including level term and increasing term policies, which provide protection for a specific period of time. You can also choose whole, universal, or variable universal life insurance policies that provide permanent coverage and accumulate cash value over the years.


Life insurance is a type of insurance policy that pays a lump sum, or death benefit, to your beneficiaries if you die. It is not required, but many people purchase it to provide financial protection for their families. It can also help pay for funeral costs, debts, and other living expenses. There are several different types of life insurance policies available, allowing you to find one that meets your needs. Visit to learn more.

Some insurance companies will only sell you a policy if you pass a medical exam and answer questions about your health and habits. This is known as underwriting, and it’s a critical step in the application process. The underwriter considers your age, sex, family health history, occupation, and lifestyle. The insurer may also request a medical record from your doctor. If the underwriter approves you for a life insurance policy, they will issue a contract and charge you a premium.

There are several different types of life insurance, and each has its own benefits and drawbacks. Term life insurance provides coverage for a limited amount of time, and it is usually cheaper than whole life insurance. However, it does not accumulate any cash value and will expire at the end of the term. Other types of life insurance include universal life, variable universal life, and indexed universal life.

All of these types of policies have different features, but they all work the same way: they collect regular payments from the insured in exchange for a death benefit when the owner dies. Those payments are known as the “premium”. You can choose to pay these premiums on a set schedule or at a certain point, like when you’re married.

Other life insurance options include permanent life insurance and accidental death & dismemberment (AD&D). Permanent life insurance allows you to earn interest on the cash value component of your policy, while AD&D covers you for specific accidents that can result in serious injuries.

The death benefit from a life insurance policy can be used to cover your debts, provide income for your children or grandchildren, and fund your retirement. However, it is important to understand the limitations of these policies before purchasing them. Some policies may exclude coverage for specific situations, such as suicide or homicide. In addition, some policies have a contestability period, which voids coverage if you misrepresent your health or omit important information.

It pays a death benefit

The death benefit of life insurance provides a cash payout to your beneficiaries at the time of your death. This money can be used to pay for funeral expenses, debt, or any other expense the beneficiaries choose. It can also be used to provide financial support and stability for your family after your death. The amount of the death benefit depends on the policy and your premium payments. You can prioritize building cash value or obtaining a larger death benefit when designing your policy with an agent.

If you are engaged in dangerous activities, like skydiving or driving racecars, you should consider getting an accidental death benefit rider on your life insurance policy. This will allow you to qualify for an accelerated death benefit (ADB) in the event of an accident that occurs while engaging in the activity. This will reduce the total death benefit your beneficiaries receive, but it can help you afford expensive medical care if needed.

When a claim is submitted, the life insurance company will review the documentation and confirm that the policyholder has died. It will then place the death benefit funds on deposit for the beneficiary in an interest-bearing checking or draft account. The beneficiaries can withdraw the funds at any time. However, they should be aware that if they withdraw more than the death benefit amount, the total amount of the deposit will decrease in accordance with the rate declared by the company.

It can take several months for a beneficiary to receive the death benefit. This is due to the fact that some policies pay out in installments or annuity-type contracts, rather than a lump sum. In addition, state laws and policy details can delay payment. For example, suspected fraud or a death caused by suicide can trigger an investigation and prolong the payout process.

Some life insurance policies have a two-year contestable period, which means that the insurance company can deny the death benefit if it learns the policyholder gave incorrect information on the application or committed suicide. However, the insurance company must return the premiums paid by the financing entity.

It is tax-free

The death benefit from life insurance is generally tax-free for your beneficiaries. However, the cash value in some permanent life insurance policies may have taxes attached to it. This is because the IRS considers it interest income. This may affect the amount your beneficiary receives if you withdraw or borrow from the cash value of your policy.

Whole life insurance and index universal life insurance can include a cash-value component that grows tax-deferred, similar to an investment account. This allows the money to grow more quickly than if it was being held in an ordinary savings or bank account. In addition, some whole life policies also pay dividends to the policyholder. These are not considered income in the same way as the interest earned on a deposit or certificate of deposit, and can be used to reduce premiums or buy additional coverage.

In most cases, the cash value of a life insurance policy will accumulate without being subject to taxes until it is withdrawn or you surrender it. During this time, the accumulated funds earn interest based on the type of account they are placed in. For example, a indexed universal life (IUL) policy can credit your cash value with interest based on an underlying index. Moreover, this is often more than the amount of interest you would get from a traditional savings or bank account.

If you surrender your policy, you will be required to pay taxes on any excess of the accumulated cash value over the cost basis in your policy. The excess is typically taxable at a capital gains rate, although this can be reduced if you use the proceeds from the sale to purchase another similar life insurance policy under a 1035 exchange.

Many whole life insurance policies also offer the option to take a loan from your policy’s cash value. Unless you cancel the policy before repaying the loan, the amount repaid will be taxable at your current tax rate. You should consult with a financial professional before making this decision. Taking a policy loan or withdrawal will decrease the death benefits and cash value of your insurance, which could cause it to lapse or become an MEC.

It is a long-term investment

Many people use life insurance as a long-term investment, and it can provide a variety of benefits. It can help your loved ones pay for funeral costs and debt, and it can also help you reach financial goals in retirement. The key is to choose the right type of policy and to use it in conjunction with other investments and savings.

Life insurance policies with cash value are a good investment tool for people who want to build up a nest egg. A portion of your premium goes toward the cash value, which grows over time. You can borrow against this amount or withdraw it if you need to. However, if you take out too much money, your policy will lapse.

Permanent life insurance is another option for investing, but it can be expensive and has some risks. It offers a death benefit and cash value component that can be used to supplement your income in retirement, but it is not guaranteed to grow or pay out at all. You can also invest in a permanent life policy with a variable universal or indexed universal plan, which allows you to invest the cash value into different sub-accounts. These can include stocks and mutual funds.

Term life insurance is cheaper than permanent life insurance, but it does not offer the same flexibility and benefits as permanent life policies. It can be a good choice if you have significant debt or a spouse who depends on your income. It can also cover final expenses and estate taxes.

While life insurance may not be the best investment, it is a safe and convenient way to save for the future. It’s a great choice for those who can’t afford a savings account or don’t have the time to manage a portfolio. However, you should always speak with a financial professional before purchasing a life insurance policy. They can help you find a suitable plan and determine how much coverage you need. They can also recommend the right investment strategy for your unique situation.