Types of Life Insurance Policies
Insurance companies have present different levels of policies to suit different needs of public. At the time of confirming to buy a policy, a person must know firstly the amount of premium he will have to pay, secondly time span of insurance, and thirdly.sum insured with or without bonus. The following are the types of life insurance policies:
Types Of Life Insurance Policies
- Whole life policy
- Endowment policy
- Term policy
- Other life policies
1) Whole Life policy
In this type of policy the insured have to pay premium throughout his life or up to limited years. The amount is paid to the nominee of the insured on his death. This done for the protection of nominee's family. The rate of premium in the policy is low as compared to other policies of life insurance because amount is payable in the whole life. This type of policy has no financial gain to insured. It can be further classified into following types:
- Ordinary whole life policy
- Limited Premium whole life policy
- Single Premium whole life policy
2) Endowment Policy
This type of policy is issued for a fixed specific period of time. Insured is payable to the policyholder on the maturity of the policy. Endowment policy is very popular because it makes provision for the security of the family. The following are the types of this policy:
- Ordinary endowment policy
- Pure endowment policy
- Double Endowment policy
- Deferred endowment policy.
3) Term Policy
It's a very old policy which is for 1, 2, 5 or 10 years. The money is paid back only after the death of the nominee. If the nominee survives more than the insured time than company will not pay back the amount. We have to make knowledge that it's neither saving nor investment. It has following types:
- Straight Term policy
- Convertible Term Policy
- Decreasing Term Policy
- Renewal Term Policy
4) Other Life Policies
Some of the types of life insurance are as follows:
- Single Premium Insurance
- Joint Life Policy
- Group Life Insurance
- Multipurpose Insurance Policy
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Types of Life Insurance
Life insurance protection comes in many forms, and not all policies are created equal, as you will soon discover. While the death benefit amounts may be the same, the costs, structure, durations, etc. vary tremendously across the types of policies.
Whole life insurance provides guaranteed insurance protection for the entire life of the insured, otherwise known as permanent coverage. These policies carry a "cash value" component that grows tax deferred at a contractually guaranteed amount (usually a low interest rate) until the contract is surrendered. The premiums are usually level for the life of the insured and the death benefit is guaranteed for the insured's lifetime.
With whole life payments, part of your premium is applied toward the insurance portion of your policy, another part of your premium goes toward administrative expenses and the balance of your premium goes toward the investment, or cash, portion of your policy. The interest you accumulate through the investment portion of your policy is tax-free until you withdraw it (if that is allowed under the terms of your policy). Any withdrawal you make will typically be tax free up to your basis in the policy. Your basis is the amount of premiums you have paid into the policy minus any prior dividends paid or previous withdrawals. Any amounts withdrawn above your basis may be taxed as ordinary income. As you might expect, given their permanent protection, these policies tend to have a much higher initial premium than other types of life insurance. But, the cash build up in the policy can be used toward premium payments, provided cash is available. This is known as a participating whole life policy, which combines the benefits of permanent life insurance protection with a savings component, and provides the policy owner some additional payment flexibility.
Universal life insurance, also known as flexible premium or adjustable life, is a variation of whole life insurance. Like whole life, it is also a permanent policy providing cash value benefits based on current interest rates. The feature that distinguishes this policy from its whole life cousin is that the premiums, cash values and level amount of protection can each be adjusted up or down during the contract term as the insured's needs change. Cash values earn an interest rate that is set periodically by the insurance company and is generally guaranteed not to drop below a certain level.
Variable life insurance is designed to combine the traditional protection and savings features of whole life insurance with the growth potential of investment funds. This type of policy is comprised of two distinct components: the general account and the separate account. The general account is the reserve or liability account of the insurance provider, and is not allocated to the individual policy. The separate account is comprised of various investment funds within the insurance company's portfolio, such as an equity fund, a money market fund, a bond fund, or some combination of these. Because of this underlying investment feature, the value of the cash and death benefit may fluctuate, thus the name "variable life".
Variable Universal Life
Variable universal life insurance combines the features of universal life with variable life and gives the consumer the flexibility of adjusting premiums, death benefits and the selection of investment choices. These policies are technically classified as securities and are therefore subject to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulation and the oversight of the state insurance commissioner. Unfortunately, all the investment risk lies with the policy owner; as a result, the death benefit value may rise or fall depending on the success of the policy's underlying investments. However, policies may provide some type of guarantee that at least a minimum death benefit will be paid to beneficiaries.
One of the most commonly used policies is term life insurance. Term insurance can help protect your beneficiaries against financial loss resulting from your death; it pays the face amount of the policy, but only provides protection for a definite, but limited, amount of time. Term policies do not build cash values and the maximum term period is usually 30 years. Term policies are useful when there is a limited time needed for protection and when the dollars available for coverage are limited. The premiums for these types of policies are significantly lower than the costs for whole life. They also (initially) provide more insurance protection per dollar spent than any form of permanent policies. Unfortunately, the cost of premiums increases as the policy owner gets older and as the end of the specified term nears. (To learn more, read Buying Life Insurance: Term Vs. Permanent and What is term insurance?)
Term polices can have some variations, including, but not limited to:
Annual Renewable and Convertible Term: This policy provides protection for one year, but allows the insured to renew the policy for successive periods thereafter, but at higher premiums without having to furnish evidence of insurability. These policies may also be converted into whole life policies without any additional underwriting.
Level Term: This policy has an initial guaranteed premium level for specified periods; the longer the guarantee, the greater the cost to the buyer (but usually still far more affordable than permanent policies). These policies may be renewed after the guarantee period, but the premiums do increase as the insured gets older.
Decreasing Term: This policy has a level premium, but the amount of the death benefit decreases with time. This is often used in conjunction with mortgage debt protection.
Many term life insurance policies have major features that provide additional flexibility for the insured/policyholder. A renewability feature, perhaps the most important feature associated with term policies, guarantees that the insured can renew the policy for a limited number of years (ie. a term between 5 and 30 years) based on attained age. Convertibility provisions permit the policy owner to exchange a term contract for permanent coverage within a specific time frame without providing additional evidence of insurability.
Food for Thought
Many insurance consumers only need to replace their income until they've reached retirement age, have accumulated a fair amount of wealth, or their dependents are old enough to take care of themselves. When evaluating life insurance policies for you and your family, you must carefully consider the purchase of temporary versus permanent coverage. As you have just read, there are many differences in how policies may be structured and how death benefits are determined. There are also vast differences in their pricing and in the duration of life insurance protection.
Many consumers opt to buy term insurance as a temporary risk protection and then invest the savings (the difference between the cost of term and what they would have paid for permanent coverage) into an alternative investment, such as a brokerage account, mutual fund or retirement plan.
TYPES OF LIFE INSURANCE POLICIES
You know that you need life insurance. However, with the wide variety of insurance policies available, you may find choosing the right one difficult. It's really not as confusing as it seems, however, once you understand the basic types of life insurance policies.
Term life insurance
With a term policy, you get "pure" life insurance coverage. Term insurance provides a death benefit for only a specific period of time. If you die during the coverage period, your beneficiary (the person you named to collect the insurance proceeds) receives the death benefit (the face amount of the policy). If you live past the term period, your coverage ends, and you get nothing back.
Term insurance is available for periods ranging from 1 year to 30 years or more. You may be able to renew the policy for a new term without regard to your health, but at a higher rate. Your premium goes toward administrative expenses, company profit, and a reserve account that pays claims to those who die during the term period. As you get older, the chance that you will die increases. To cover this increasing risk, your premiums will likewise rise at regular intervals. For this reason, premiums that were quite inexpensive at the time you initially purchased your term policy will become much more expensive as you get older. Most term insurance also has a conversion feature that allows you to switch your coverage to some type of permanent insurance without answering health questions.
Traditional whole life insurance--guaranteed premiums
Whole life insurance is a type of permanent insurance or cash value insurance. Unlike term insurance, which provides coverage for a particular period of time, permanent insurance provides coverage for your entire life. When you make premium payments, you pay more than is needed to pay for the current costs of insurance coverage and expenses. The excess payment is credited to a cash value account. This cash value account allows the insurance company to charge a level, guaranteed premium* and to provide a death benefit and cash value throughout the life of the policy.
As you make payments, the cash value account grows. With traditional whole life insurance, the cash value account is guaranteed* and held in the insurance company's general portfolio--you don't get to choose how the cash value account is invested. However, the cash value can potentially grow beyond its guaranteed amount through the payment of dividends (profits earned by a "mutual" insurer). The cash value grows tax deferred and can either be used as collateral to borrow from the insurance company or be directly accessed through a partial or complete surrender of the policy. It is important to note, however, that a policy loan or partial surrender will reduce the policy's death benefit, and a complete surrender will terminate coverage altogether.
If you live to the policy's maturity date, the policy will "endow," and the insurance company will pay the accumulated cash value (equal at maturity to the death benefit) to you.
Universal life--openness and flexibility
Universal life is another type of permanent life insurance with a death benefit and a cash value account. Like whole life insurance, the cash value is held in the insurance company's general portfolio--you don't get to choose how the account is invested. Unlike traditional whole life, universal life insurance allows you flexibility in making premium payments.
A universal life insurance policy will generally provide very broad premium guidelines (i.e., minimum and maximum premium payments), but within these guidelines you can choose how much and when you pay premiums. Reducing or increasing premiums will impact the growth of the cash value component and possibly the death benefit. You are also free to change the policy's death benefit directly (again, within the limits set out by the policy) as your financial circumstances change. Be aware, however, that if you want to raise the amount of coverage, you'll need to go through the insurability process again, probably including a new medical exam, and your premiums will increase.
Universal life policies reveal all aspects of the policy's cost structure, including the cost of insurance (the portion set aside to pay claims) and expenses. This information is not always available with other types of policies. Another feature of universal life is the option to add the cash value to the face amount when the death benefit is paid. For example, say you die when you have $200,000 of cash value within your $1 million policy. If you chose the enhanced benefit option, your beneficiary receives $1.2 million. Keep in mind, however, that nothing is free--the increased benefit is reflected in premium calculations.
Variable life--you make the investment decisions
Like other types of permanent life insurance, variable life insurance has a cash value account. A variable life insurance policy, however, allows you to choose how your cash value account is invested. A variable life policy generally contains several investment options, known as subaccounts, that are professionally managed to pursue a stated investment objective. Choices can range from a fixed interest subaccount to a highly volatile international growth subaccount. Variable life insurance policies require a fixed annual premium for the life of the policy and may provide a minimum guaranteed death benefit*. If the cash value account exceeds a certain amount, the death benefit will increase.
Variable universal life--the ultimate in flexibility
Variable universal life combines all of the options and flexibility of universal life with the investment choices of a variable policy. It is a true hybrid product, and you make most of the policy decisions. You decide how often and how much your premium payments are to be, within guidelines. With most variable universal life policies, you get no guaranteed minimum cash value or death benefit. Your premium payments in excess of administrative costs and the cost of insurance are invested in the variable subaccounts that you choose.
As with both variable and universal life insurance, your policy may lapse if the cash value account falls below a certain level. Low-interest loans can be taken against your cash value account, and cash withdrawals are available. However, keep in mind that your policy's face amount is reduced by the amount of a policy withdrawal, and withdrawals may be taxable. You have the option of choosing a fixed or enhanced death benefit. Today, most variable universal life policies offer a rider that guarantees the death benefit at a certain level regardless of the performance of the subaccounts, provided that a stated minimum premium is paid for a predetermined number of years*.
*Any guarantees associated with payment of death benefits, income options, or rates of return are subject to the claims-paying ability of the insurer.
Joint or survivorship life for you and your spouse
Some married couples choose to buy insurance together within the same policy. These policies take the form of either a joint first-to-die or a joint second-to-die (survivorship) design. With first-to-die, the death benefit is paid at the death of the spouse who dies first. With second-to-die, no death benefit is paid until both spouses are deceased. Second-to-die policies are commonly used in estate planning to create a pool of funds to pay estate taxes and other expenses due at the death of the second spouse. Joint and survivorship policies are generally available under any type of permanent life insurance. Other than the fact that two people are insured under one policy, the policy characteristics remain the same.