A term insurance policy is protection during a limited number of years; expiring without value if the insured survives the stated period, which may be one or more years but usually is five to twenty years, because such periods usually cover the needs for temporary protection.
This is the most common type of permanent insurance. The premiums for a whole life policy must be paid as scheduled in the amount indicated in the policy. These premium amounts remain constant over the life of the policy. The death benefit and cash value are guaranteed as stated in the policy if premiums are paid when due and there are no loans or withdrawals outstanding at the insured’s death. Quite often dividends may be credited to this type of policy.
This variation of permanent insurance allows you, after your initial premium payment, to pay premiums at any time, in virtually any amount, subject to certain minimums and maximums. You can also increase or reduce the amount of the death benefit more easily than under a traditional whole life policy. Typically, current interest rates are credited to the cash value in this type of policy.
Variable is life insurance for which the amount of the payments is determined by the performance of the underlying investments chosen by the policyholder. Choices range from low-risk fixed income funds to high-yield stock and bond funds. These accounts are typically accompanied by higher fees. Returns are generally not guaranteed and investment risk is assumed by the policy holder instead of the insurance company. Premiums remain fixed under this arrangement. As would be expected, the better the investments perform, the larger the death benefit will be. However, the death benefit will not drop below a certain minimum, regardless of investment performance.