Simplified Whole Life Insurance Definition – While similar in some respects, universal and whole life insurance policies have some important differences. Universal life insurance (UL) offers policyholders flexibility in premium payments, death benefits and savings factors in their policies. Whole life insurance, by comparison, offers consistency with fixed premiums and guaranteed cash value accumulation and death benefits.
These two types of life insurance both fall under the category of permanent life insurance. Unlike term life insurance, which guarantees the payment of a death benefit over a specified period, permanent policies provide coverage for life. If you cancel your permanent life policy, you will receive the cash value of the policy (minus any fees).
Simplified Whole Life Insurance Definition
Both of these versions of life insurance policies usually consist of two parts: a savings or investment part and an insurance part. This makes premiums higher than term policies. Policyholders can also borrow against the cash value of the policy. For this reason, permanent life insurance is also called cash value life insurance.
Term Vs. Whole Life Insurance
Whole life insurance covers you for the rest of your life, regardless of how long you may live. As long as you continue to pay the premium, your beneficiaries will receive the death benefit when you die. This policy is best suited for long-term liabilities such as the care of an adult dependent child or post-death expenses such as estate taxes.
One of the characteristics of whole life insurance is that it combines protection with savings. Your insurance company deposits a portion of your premium payments into a high-interest bank or investment account. With each premium payment, your cash value increases. This savings element of your policy increases your cash value on a tax-deferred basis.
Whole life insurance is designed to meet a person’s long-term goals, and it must continue for as long as you live.
To borrow against a whole life policy, you must meet minimum cash value requirements, as you cannot borrow against the face value of the policy.
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An attractive feature of whole life policies is the guaranteed cash value. Because you can borrow against it — or surrender your policy for cash value — it offers some financial flexibility in an emergency.
Some whole life policies also pay dividends, although they are not guaranteed. If you receive them, you can choose to take them in annuities, let them accumulate interest, or use them to reduce your policy premium or purchase additional coverage.
However, level premiums, fixed death benefits, and attractive life benefits (eg, loans and dividends) make this type of policy quite expensive, especially compared to term insurance. It is advisable to buy whole life insurance when you are young for long-term affordability.
Universal life insurance is also called adjustable life insurance because of the flexibility it offers. You have the ability to decrease or increase your death benefit and adjust your premium (within certain limits) once the account is funded.
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When you pay for your universal life insurance plan, a portion of it goes into an investment account, and any interest that accrues is credited to your account. The interest you earn grows on a tax-deferred basis, increasing your cash value.
You can adjust the death benefit if necessary, increase it if your circumstances change (often subject to a medical examination), or reduce it to a lower premium. Alternatively, you can use your cash value to pay premiums as long as there is enough money in the account.
The ability to adjust the cost of your insurance coverage without realizing your policy is an attractive feature of universal life coverage. As your financial circumstances or responsibilities change, you may increase, decrease or even stop premium payments.
Another benefit is the ability to partially withdraw or borrow money from the cash value. However, you must keep track of the withdrawals, because they reduce cash-if you withdraw too much, you may have little left when you need it. If your premiums don’t cover the cost of insurance and you have no cash value, your policy may lapse.
Infinite Banking Concept
Another downside of universal life insurance is the interest rate, which often depends on market conditions. If the policy is done well, your savings fund has potential growth potential. On the other hand, if it goes wrong, the estimated profits are not earned—and that can increase your premiums.
Another negative feature: the fee. As with all permanent life insurance policies, surrender charges may apply when you terminate your policy or withdraw funds from the account, especially in the early years.
Be sure to discuss your cash value fund status with your insurance advisor or agent before withholding premiums. Your policy can lapse if you stop paying premiums and don’t have enough cash value to cover the cost of the insurance.
With whole life, you pay the highest premium for the coverage offered to you. A universal life equivalent policy will cost less, but will also carry a certain amount of risk for the policyholders.
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The right life insurance policy for you will depend on your family structure and financial situation, as well as your risk appetite and desire for flexibility. In addition to universal life and whole life, you can find other forms of life insurance such as term life, group life, and more.
Whatever type of policy you decide on, be sure to compare the companies you are considering to make sure you get the best whole life insurance or the best universal life insurance.
Term life insurance is a low-cost option that provides a death benefit for a number of years (term), such as 10 or 20 years. Term policies, unlike whole or universal life, do not accumulate any cash value. Term life is often the cheapest option.
Indexed Universal Life (IUL) is a variation of universal life (UL) in which the cash component of the policy is linked to the performance of a stock market index, such as the S&P 500. The holder decides how much cash value to provide. Either a fixed account or an equity index account.
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There will be a threshold above which the policy will no longer credit the account, such as 12% per annum. So, even if the S&P 500 rises 20% in a year, the policy will only earn 12%. If the index falls, the returns may be inferior, although there are often floors to prevent extreme losses.
As long as the Universal Life policy is fully funded and premiums are paid on time, the UL policy will remain in effect forever, until death.
Depending on the insurance company and the terms of the policy, you may be able to convert to permanent insurance coverage without the need for a fresh medical exam. A new whole life policy will come with a higher premium, based on the age when you switch.
Universal life (UL) and whole life are two types of permanent life insurance. The differences include the fact that universal life policies provide flexible premiums and death benefits but have lower guarantees, while whole life policies have predictable premiums and cash value accumulation guarantees.
Life Insurance Glossary Accuquote
You can borrow against or withdraw cash value with both types of life insurance. However, be aware that a whole life policy will usually carry a higher premium than an equivalent UL policy.
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Term life insurance is perhaps the easiest to understand because it is a straight insurance, with no savings or investment component. Here’s why you buy a term policy.
Term Vs. Universal Life Insurance: What’s The Difference?
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