What is Permanent Life Insurance and How Much do you Need?

Permanent life insurance is defined as a whole-life policy, one that doesn’t expire and may provide a number of benefits during the policyholder’s life and when they pass away. It’s not a specific type of insurance, as such, and is instead an umbrella term used to describe life insurance policies that are not fixed to specific terms.

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Types of Permanent Life Insurance Policies

There are two types of permanent policies: Whole Life Insurance and Universal Life Insurance. Unlike term life insurance, which is fixed to a specific term, permanent insurance policies are designed to be paid for the entirety of the policyholder’s life, with a death benefit released upon their death.

Take a look at these pros and cons to see how a permanent life policy can benefit you.

Pro: Lifelong Coverage

Permanent life insurance is not limited to a fixed period of time and providing you keep meeting those monthly premiums, the death benefit will be released to your heirs when you die.

Pros: Cash Value

Permanent life insurance is often likened to a savings account and a life insurance policy combined, as it has a cash value that you can collect as you see fit. You can see the policy’s cash value during the term and withdraw as much money as you need.

What’s more, the cash value grows on a tax-deferred basis, which means the policyholder is not required to pay taxes on the money it generates.

Pro: Premium Payments Don’t Change

With whole and universal life policies, your premium payments remain the same, which means you don’t need to worry about variable life insurance rates changing from one year to the next. You should pay the same in the first year as you pay in the 20th year.

Con: It’s More Expensive

The extended coverage and extra investment options come at a greatly inflated price, as whole-life policies tend to be much more expensive than their term-life counterparts. How much you pay will depend on the amount of coverage provided, but it’s generally a lot higher than a term life policy with the same payout.

Con: It Doesn’t Account for Inflation

A lot can happen in 50 years and a death benefit that seems like a huge sum now may be worth much less in 40 or 50 years when you eventually pass away. However, it’s worth noting that your life insurance premiums will remain the same as well, so it’s all relative.

Cons: It’s Complicated

Term-life insurance is relatively simple. You pay a sum of money every month and if you die within the term, your loved ones will be given a cash sum. However, once you consider the cash value, tax-free withdrawals, potential dividends, and more, permanent insurance policies are more complicated.

Other Types of Life Insurance

There are several types of life insurance and if you’re being rejected for permanent life insurance or receive quotes that are far too high, it’s worth looking into one of these other options.

Term Life Insurance

With a term life insurance policy, you won’t be covered for your entire life, but you will receive extensive coverage for a number of years. These policies are available for less, because if the policyholder outlives the term they won’t collect the death benefit or any other payments and the life insurance company will secure all the profits.

Final Expense Life Insurance

Seniors are generally refused for term and whole-life insurance policies because the risk is too high. However, final expense life insurance can provide many of the same benefits, with a death benefit paid to your loved ones when you die. The premiums tend to be high and the payout low, but if you’re above the age of 60 this is one of the few options you have for life insurance coverage.

Final expense insurance is often used to pay for funerals, estate taxes, and debt, but there are no restrictions regarding how it can be used.

Joint Life Insurance

Joint life insurance policies are targeted at spouses seeking to provide cover for each other and their children. The options include first-to-die insurance, where the money will go to the surviving spouse; and second-to-die insurance, which pays the death benefit to beneficiaries when both applicants die.

Is Permanent Life Insurance Right for you?

If you can get your head around permanent life insurance and understand what you’re paying and what benefits it’s providing, it could be the right choice. This is especially true if you have the money to meet those payment obligations every month and want the extra asset that the cash value can provide.

However, if your insurance needs revolve entirely around protecting your loved ones, term-life insurance is probably the better option. A term life insurance policy generally offers a high payout for low premiums (when compared to whole life policies). This sum can be used to clear debt, pay off the mortgage, and set your loved ones up for life. And just as importantly, it provides you with the peace of mind that comes from knowing your nearest and dearest won’t be destitute if you die.

Older applicants may struggle to get affordable term and whole life insurance products, but that’s where final expense insurance comes in. This is a limited type of policy with a coverage amount of less than $50,000, and an average amount of less than half that—more than enough to cover funeral expenses and most types of debt.

Summary: There are Always Options Available

You’re never too young, old or sick to be considered for life insurance. 

It’s all about probabilities. Underwriters will consider all the data you provide them with and use this to calculate the likely date of your death. It sounds morbid, but when your business is death, things can get a little dark every now and then.

Imagine, for instance, that you’re a 20-year-old male with a clean bill of health and a brand-new family to look after. A life insurance company will be more than happy to provide you with term life insurance, because these products are limited to 30-years and the odds are high that you will live to be 50. Not only will they be more than happy to sign you up, but they will also offer you a good price because you’re deemed to be such a low risk.

If you opt for a permanent life insurance policy, the premiums will be higher because the death benefit payout is more likely. However, they also know there’s a good chance you will face financial difficulties during the next few decades, in which case you may stop making those payments or accept the cash value as soon as it reaches a respectable sum.

As you age, your risk increases, and the same applies for smokers and people with pre-existing medical conditions. They will still be more than happy to receive your business, it just means your options may be a little more limited and your premiums may be much higher.

So, keep searching, keep comparing, and work on improving your health to bring those premiums down.