Term Life Insurance
Term life insurance is only in force for a specified amount of time: usually 10, 15, 20 or 30 years. At the end of the term, your coverage expires and you will need to either convert your policy to a permanent life insurance plan (if available) or purchase a new policy for a new term.
Premiums, or payments, which can be the same amount or increase with time, must be made monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually. If you die during the term of coverage, the face amount of your policy will be paid to your beneficiaries. Term insurance policies do not accumulate cash value and therefore usually offer lower premiums than other life insurance products with the same face value.
Universal Life Insurance
Universal Life is permanent insurance that has the potential to accumulate cash value. However, it offers additional features and options. For example, you can increase or decrease your policy's face amount to accommodate your changing protection needs. You can also increase or decrease the dollar amount of your premium payments and make additional lump sum payments to your policy. Since a Universal Life policy accrues cash value, you can borrow against this cash value for any purpose.
You have the option to skip premium payments if your account has accrued sufficient value because the premiums will be taken from the accrued value. A Universal Life policy also has the potential to earn a higher rate of return than a whole life policy, although there is a risk that your rate of return could drop.
Whole Life Insurance
Whole Life Insurance is life insurance that you own for your entire lifetime. The amount of the death benefit or face amount can be selected to meet your needs.
Premiums, or payments, are fixed and can be paid monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually. As more premiums are paid, your policy accumulates a cash value that grows on a tax deferred basis. In essence, whole life is like buying a house versus renting it. The monthly cost is higher than it would be for a term life policy, but with each payment you make you gain equity. You can borrow against a Whole Life policy for any purpose. Loans, however, require you to pay interest and any borrowed amount you do not pay back is deducted from the payout to your beneficiary at the time of your death.