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As its name implies, whole life insurance provides coverage for your entire life. The policy pays a death benefit to your beneficiary no matter when you die, whether it’s tomorrow or in 50 years.

Whole Life Insurance

Protection for your loved ones

Whole life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance. It's also the most common, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). Like most permanent life insurance policies, whole life offers a savings component, called "cash value," and life-long protection — as long as premiums are paid, whole life provides a death benefit after you die.


Certain aspects of whole life insurance can make it an appealing choice.

  • Your premiums and death benefit are fixed.

  • You can withdraw funds or take out a loan.

  • You have a guaranteed rate of return.

Fixed Premiums and Death Benefit

In most cases, the premium and death benefit stay constant for the duration of a whole life policy. (A universal life insurance policy, on the other hand, may offer the option to adjust your premiums or death benefit.)

With fixed premiums and a fixed death benefit, you likely won't have to worry about cost increases as you get older, and your loved ones will know the amount of life insurance proceeds to expect when you do pass on.


A whole life policy can serve as a source of emergency funds for you if something goes wrong; you may be able to take out a loan against the policy. That's because a portion of each of your premium payments is funneled into a savings component of the policy called the "cash value."

Over time, the cash value builds, and you're able to withdraw funds or borrow against it. The rules on how and when you can do that vary by company. And there are guidelines to follow, so that you don't inadvertently reduce the death benefit or create a tax burden.


The cost of a whole life insurance policy depends on several factors, including how much coverage you buy. Additionally, the III says factors such as your age, health and life expectancy may affect the premiums you pay for whole life.

When it comes to paying your premiums, you'll typically be able to make an annual payment for a whole life insurance policy. Some insurers may also offer the option to pay monthly, quarterly or twice a year. Be aware, however, that paying premiums more frequently than once per year may incur additional fees.

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