With the amount of different policies in the Life Insurance market, you probably aren't aware that there are just 4 main types. They will vary from company to company and state to state, but, on the whole there are four defined types of Life Insurance policies. These are:
- Whole Life Insurance
- Term Life Insurance
- Variable Life Insurance
- Universal Life Insurance
Whole Life Insurance
Whole Life Insurance and Term Life Insurance (see below) policies are very similar. The main difference is that if you choose to take up a whole life insurance policy, then this policy will cover you fro your whole life and not a fixed amount of time. Your premium will be at a fixed amount when the policy starts and the life insurance company that you are paying will generally invest a percentage of your monthly premiums, this is in a number of areas including stocks and bonds. Some companies actually share the proceeds of the investment and issue a dividend to the policy holder each year, but this is become less common in new policies.
One main disadvantage to having a whole life policy is that it isn't useful to you when you retire, and that you will still have to continue paying the premiums into your old age. Additionally, as you get older you may develop illnesses or other dependant costs and payments, which this policy doesn't take into account. So, if you started your policy at age 25 and ended up retiring at 60 with 12 children, 2 houses and 3 mortgages, the policy would still treat you as if you were single and have no assets as you were at 25. So, when you die the pay-out to your family is generally lower than what they need to pay any bills and funeral costs. Recently, however, many insurance companies have looked at the whole life policy and adapted it with other policies to meet the needs of the policy holder, and to meet the changing market.
Term Life Insurance
Term Life Insurance is considered to be the most simplest of Life Insurance policies and so has become the most popular. The policy will run for a fixed amount of time, say 5, 10, or even 20+ years - it will also have a monthly premium at a fixed price too. Should the policy owner die during its period then the nominated beneficiary will be paid the full rate of the policy. The company will not invest any of the money for policy holder gain and will act as a deposit account to 'save' the money should the policy holder die.
Many term this type of policy to be 100% risk free, but, if the holder of the policy is still alive when the policy expires then all premiums and monies paid into the policy will be kept by the insurance company. So, this policy simply protects the holders family from paying for bills etc should the person suddenly die during the period of the policy - this is why many of the policies that are available on these terms have very low premiums.
If you have one of these policies and it comes to the end of its term, then you do have the option to renew it, however, you will need to pay a revised premium and many times this cost will be more than double the price of your current premium - causing it to be a major disadvantage in this type of policy.
Variable Life Policy
This type of policy involves the wider selection of different investment products, such as stock funds, and is one of the more popular types of life insurance policies for people to take due to its ability to be adaptable to many people in different situations. Operating similar to a universal policy (see below), holders will receive a return on investment from money that the life insurance firm has paid out to stock funds. With these types of policies, you are able to mix a variable amount from different policies and beneficiaries receive the full face value of the policy and generally a cash payment from the 'account' where funds have accrued.
Universal Life Policy
A Universal Life Policy is generally added to the Variable Life Policy types above, but it does have some unique elements that makes it a life insurance policy in its own right - policy holders can choose their investment type, whether stock, bonds, or mortgages. The insured person also decides on the insurance amount to be covered by and the company helps them make the decision of where to invest. A cash value is put on the investment and any dividends earned are paid into the 'account' of the policy. This means that any premiums paid into the 'account' can be set against the premiums that the policy holder pays, or can be left to accrue for years to come.
So, you now have all the information you need on the different types of life insurance policies that you can take out. The main point here is to go and do some more research on which one is best for you!