Whole life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance which covers the individual for their entire life.
Also known as cash-value life insurance, it includes both a death benefit which is paid to your beneficiaries and a cash-value portion which helps it to grow. You may be aware of other types such as universal life insurance or term life insurance.
Whole life is a pretty basic type. You’ll have a set premium which will stay stable for the life of your policy.
Like any other life insurance policy, you should choose an insurer who is financially sound to ensure your family is served when the time comes. In this way, purchasing a life insurance policy is a matter of trust.
To determine which is right for you, let’s begin with the differences between these two common types.
First, there is the life of the policy. Whole life insurance lasts until the insured dies. Term life insurance has a fixed period of coverage which can run anywhere from 10 to 30 years. It is temporary although it may last for a relatively long time.
Both are simple, straightforward types of life insurance. Both provide a death benefit to the beneficiaries of the insured. Whereas term life insurance is less expensive, whole life insurance costs considerably more because of the added value it provides the insured.
In addition to the death benefit, whole life insurance has a cash value which increases over its lifespan.
The primary benefits of whole life insurance revolve around its cash value.
Part of your premium will go toward the cost of the insurance and its death benefit. The balance is part of its cash value. The money you pay in contributes to this fund, in addition to a stated interest rate by the carrier you choose. In many ways, it’s like having an IRA or 401(k). Like these investments, your cash value earns interest over time which is tax-free.
And the best part of is you can withdraw from these funds tax-free as well—as long as the amount is under the total amount of premiums deposited. You can also opt to take out a tax-free loan against the accumulated cash value. The catch with either way of accessing your funds is it can reduce the death benefit your beneficiaries ultimately receive or incur taxes if by surrender.
The death benefit offers your family another important advantage.
Generally, your beneficiaries won’t have to pay interest on the amount they receive. It’s one less thing your family needn’t worry about during a trying time. They will most likely not pay taxes on this benefit either. It’s one of the most comforting of the advantages of whole life insurance.
Your loan will still accrue interest which will affect the balances of both your cash value and the death benefit. In addition, you don’t have to pay it back either.
It will also go against the value of the death benefit. You can also use the cash value to pay your premiums if you so choose. These are things to consider as part of the total costs and benefits of a whole life insurance policy.
If there is enough cash within a policy where the interest earned annually is above your cost of insurance, the policy can also be considered “paid up.” This means you can stop paying in, and the policy will be on autopilot until you pass, where it will deliver the final death benefit.
It’s essential to understand the nuts and bolts of how the cash value of whole life insurance works.
First, it is a safe way to save money because it is insulated from the effects of market fluctuations. Second, the cash value accrues interest which is tax-free, with no limit. And third, you may earn dividends as well, as long as the insurer is a dividend paying company.
However, the cash value is a living benefit of your whole life insurance. Its advantages lie in your ability to withdraw or take a loan against it while you’re alive, tax-free. It does not go to your beneficiaries after you pass, however. The insurance company will pay the death benefit to the survivors, in addition to any paid up additions it accrues.