When it comes to buying life insurance the most important comparison is between term insurance and whole life. Here is an explanation of each.
A term life insurance plan provides life insurance – plain and simple. A whole life insurance plan provides life insurance but also accrues value, which you can cash out or borrow against. It generally takes about three years to see any value and then it’s not a lot of money. Term life insurance, in comparison to whole life, is considerably less costly for this reason. Some will refer to term life insurance as renting insurance rather than buying it. The reason for that attitude is that, much like auto insurance, you pay the premium each month or quarter or year to hedge against the bet that you might have an accident (in the case of term life insurance the accident is death). If you don’t have that accident, in the case of auto insurance, or if you don’t die in the case of life insurance, you don’t get the money.
We all die, of course, so it might seem that term life insurance is a good bet and the best bet in comparison to whole life. You would, you surmise, always get your money back. The catch here is that term life insurance will end at a certain point – and that point may well be before you are deceased. Term life insurance plans are only good until a certain predetermined age – many are 70 years of age, others up to 80. For those of us who really need this coverage until the day we die these aren’t good plans in comparison to whole life which will be in force until the day we die.
Term life insurance is a good buy in comparison to whole life, however, if all you are trying to do is set money aside to prevent your young family from becoming destitute in the event of your unexpected death. Once you reach the age of 70, the likelihood is that your children will be comfortably on their own and not dependent on your money or income to survive. Of course, if this is your only life insurance and it goes away before you die then your family or someone else must bear the cost of burying you. That is where whole life insurance is a favorable comparison to term life. Whole life will stay in place as long as you do, and will be there when it comes time to pay for your burial.
It may be, then, that in doing a comparison between term life insurance and whole life insurance, the results indicate a need for both. Many professionals suggest that you buy an amount of term life insurance that would keep your family bills paid for a predetermined time in the event of your untimely death, choosing a term that covers them only until they are old enough to take care of their bills on their own. These same professionals suggest as well that you also buy a whole life insurance policy for an amount of $7000-$12,000, merely to assure that your family will have money to bury you.
In other words, if you are 40 and your children are 6, 8 and 10, you’re going to need about 15 years of term life insurance – until your youngest is through four years of college. You might decide, with three children and a spouse that you’ll need several hundred thousand dollars of coverage. A Whole life policy of $10,000, however, would be plenty to provide a decent funeral and burial.