Whole Life Insurance Explained

By: Joe Stewart

Whole life insurance is a type of policy that provides you with insurance protection for the rest of your life, from the time you actually purchase the policy, until the day you either pass away, you stop making the premium payments or you reach the age of one hundred years. At that point, the insurance company will pay the owner of the policy 100% of the face value, which will also be the cash value. Therefore this type of policy insures you for your "whole life".

One of the interesting things about Whole life insurance is that it also builds what is called "cash value" over time. This cash value should not be confused with the "face value" of the policy. Let me explain the difference between the two.

Face Value = the amount of money that the insurance policy is supposed to provide in the event of the insured person. In other words, if the policy is for $50,000, then the face value is $50,000. If the person was insured for $100,000, then the face value of the policy would be $100,000. Whatever the amount is that the policy is supposed to pay is the face value.

Cash Value = the actual amount that the policy is worth. Cash value will grow over time within a Whole Life policy, however, it will never reach the Face Value amount of the policy unless the insured individual reaches 100 years of age. At this point the policy has fully "matured".

The way that this works is that a portion of the money paid into a Whole life policy goes toward buying insurance, while the remainder goes into an interest bearing account. This money can be borrowed against later in life, if you choose to do so and can be used for practically any purpose, however, just like any other loan it must be repaid.

Whole life insurance isn't as popular as it once was. These days many people are buying Term life instead because it's less expensive and also because that way they're buying only "pure" insurance and can make the decision to invest their money elsewhere. You can always start out buying Term and upgrade to a whole life insurance policy later in life, if you choose to. The decision is yours.

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