Whole Life Insurance Definition: How It Works, With Examples

whole life insurance

What Is Whole Life Insurance?

Whole life insurance covers throughout the lifetime of the person who is insured. Along with paying an untaxed death benefit and a tax-free death benefit. The insurance has a savings element in which cash value could be accumulated. Interest is accrued in a tax-deferred manner.

The whole life policies are just one of several kinds of permanent life insurance that is, they will cover your life for the entire time. Universal life and indexed universal life as well as variable universal life, are some of the others. You can select a total term life insurance plan that will work with you from any of these insurers of life.


  • Whole life insurance is for an insured’s entire life, unlike term life insurance which is only for a certain number of time.
  • A majority of whole-life policies offer regular premiums. This means what you are paying each month will never change.
  • Whole life insurance comes with an element of cash savings, also known as the cash value. the policyholder can access or draw money from.
  • Cash value from a life insurance policy usually has a fixed rate of interest.
  • Refunds and loan balances that are not paid decrease the death benefit.

How Whole Life Insurance Works

Whole life insurance assures the payment of a death benefit to the beneficiaries, in return for periodic premium payments. The policy comes with the savings component, also known as”cash value, “cash value,” alongside the death benefit. In the savings portion, the interest could accrue in a tax-deferred manner. The growth in the value of cash is an important element of life insurance that is whole.

To increase the value of cash A policyholder can pay more than the amount of premium they are scheduled to buy additional insurance (known as paid-up additions, or PUA). Also, dividends from policy policies can be put back into the cash value to earn interest.

As time passes the dividends and interest earned from the cash value of the policy will bring a profit to investors. They will also grow bigger than the amount of the premiums paid to the policy.

The cash value provides an income-generating benefit to the policyholder. Which means that the policyholder can access it even if the insured is alive.

To gain access to reserve funds for cash, the owner can request the withdrawal of funds and credit. Tax-free withdrawals can be made up to the amount of the total amount paid in premiums.

In the case of policy loans that have rates that differ according to the insurer, however, the rates are usually lower than those you’d pay for an individual loan or a mortgage loan for home equity.

However, non-paid loans also decrease the worth of a policy. Based on the type of policy and the amount of left-over cash balance, a cash withdrawal could reduce the death benefit or eliminate it.


Whole life insurance differs from term life insurance which is only a policy for the duration of a specific number of years and not life insurance. The term life insurance policy does not come with the cash savings feature and will only pay an amount of death benefits.

The Whole Life Insurance Cash Value

The cash-value life insurance plan is comparable to an account for retirement savings, in that it permits investments to earn tax-deferred interest.

A portion of every premium payment contributes to the cash value of the policy which can be withdrawn or borrowed to be used later on in the course. The value of cash in an insurance policy for life increases quickly when the person insured is young.

However, since more of the premium is required to cover the insurance costs when the insured gets older and gets older, the value of the cash grows slower as they grow older because of the greater risk that comes with aging.

The insured may gain access to the cash value of their policy by borrowing against its cash value or making the form of a partial cash surrender. The surrenders reduce the final death benefit from your insurance policy.

You may also make use of this cash amount to pay the monthly premiums instead of paying them directly out of pocket. You can also surrender the whole policy to receive the total amount in cash (minus any surrender charges). The policy, however, will be canceled as well and the death reward will not be accessible to the beneficiaries of your policy.

Whole Life Death Benefit

The amount of money that is paid out as a death benefit is typically stated by the contract for insurance. However, it may be altered in certain circumstances.

Certain policies are qualified for dividend payouts, and the policyholder can decide to make use of the dividends to purchase paid-up additional additions to the policy. This increases the value that is paid upon death.

The death benefit could additionally be affected due to specific policy rules or circumstances. As previously mentioned in the previous paragraph, policy loans that are not paid (including unpaid interest) decrease the amount of death compensation dollar per dollar.

Additionally, some insurers provide riders for a nominal fee that provides protection or guarantees the specified death benefit. The two most commonly used of these riders are those that provide an accidental death benefit as well as waivers of premium riders which safeguard the death benefit if an insured is disabled, critically or terminally sick and cannot pay the premium due.

Beneficiaries could also be required to make decisions to make regarding how death benefits will be payable. The most common option is to get lump-sum payments. However, some policies allow beneficiaries to receive this death reward in smaller installments or convert it into a form of an.

An annuity can pay for a specific period, until the death benefit has been exhausted, or it could be paid out throughout the lifetime that the person who is beneficiary. The death benefit can continue earning an interest rate until the amount is repaid and this interest can be tax deductible.

Uses of Whole Life Insurance

Like all life insurance policies, a complete life insurance policy offers people and their families financial protection against the loss of the breadwinner. If a family relies heavily on income from one individual, a total life policy will provide financial security against the abrupt loss of an income-generating source.

However, unlike term life, the whole life may be utilized to invest. When the value of cash is large enough it is possible to borrow or withdraw from it to finance big purchases like buying a house. Many people also utilize the whole life value of cash to boost their retirement income if the market is low.

Whole life insurance is an excellent option for businesses. To use as a plan of contingency for the loss of a significant associate or partner. If an employee who is a key player dies. A total life insurance policy could provide financial compensation for losing their talents or knowledge.

If the deceased employee is a part of the business’s owners and the company is owned by a third party, a whole life insurance policy could help the remaining owners get sufficient capital to buy the share of the deceased partner in the company.

Types of Whole Life Insurance

Various kinds of whole life insurance are classified according to the method by which the premiums are paid.

  • Level Payment: Premiums stay unaltered throughout the life of the plan. The most typical kind in payment plans.
  • Single Premium A single premium is a one-time, large premium that is used to pay for the policy’s duration. This type of policy will almost always be an altered endowment contract with tax implications.
  • The term “limited payment” refers to the title suggests, you are required to pay only a certain amount of money. Prices are higher than in a situation of level payments however, you’ll only be paying them for a specific amount of time.
  • Modified Whole Life Insurance: The opposite of a limited-payment policy This kind of life insurance provides lower premiums than standard policies in the initial two or three years, but higher premiums than standard in the latter years. It’s more costly in the long run.

Life insurance plans that cover the whole of life are differentiated into participants and non-participating insurance plans. If you have a non-participating insurance policy the excess of premiums over payouts is a profit for the insurance company. But, the insurance company also takes on the risk of losing funds.

In a policy that is a participant that includes a participation option, any premium excess is paid to the insured in dividends. The dividend is then used to pay out payments or to increase the policy limits of coverage. However, dividends aren’t guaranteed and tend to fluctuate each year since they are mostly determined by the financial performance of the business.

Whole Life Insurance vs. Term Life Insurance

Whole-life insurance is comparable to term life insurance. In that, both policies provide a payout on the passing of a person insured. But there are important distinctions. While a whole life insurance policy provides the guarantee of death benefits for the whole life. That the policyholder is insured for, a term plan will only pay out. When an insured passes away within the specified period, usually 10, 20, and 30 years.

There are other factors to consider too. To offer greater benefits, a full life insurance policy will require substantially more costly premiums. Than a Term policy that has the same coverage. Premiums for whole-life policies are generally set throughout the term of the policy and term rates rise every time the insured gets older.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Whole Life Insurance


  • Lifetime coverage
  • You can use the cash value to make loans, withdrawals, or premium payments
  • Guaranteed death benefit amount
  • Predictable premium payments
  • Tax-free loans


  • Costs more expensive than term life
  • The value of cash may decrease faster than other policies.
  • There is no way to adjust the cost
  • The possibility of adjusting the death benefit

Advantages Explained

  • Lifetime coverage: Like all permanent insurance, whole life insurance will cover you until the insured dies.
  • Cash value that you can use for borrowing, withdrawals, or premium payment: A percentage of every premium amount accumulates in cash value. That you can borrow or withdraw throughout your life.
  • Amount of the guaranteed death benefit: The amount of your death benefit is set. When you enroll in your policy. It stays at the same amount as long as your policy is active.
  • Predictable premiums: Your cost is also set at the time of issue. And is not likely to change throughout your life (unless you select an option that is not level).
  • Tax-free loans: Although withdrawals that exceed the amount of your cash contribution are tax deductible policy loans aren’t.

Disadvantages Explained

  • Higher than term life insurance: The premiums for a whole life insurance plan are generally more expensive. Then the term ones because the policy accumulates value and protects you for the rest of your life.
  • The cash value could grow less as compared to other policies: The growth rate of your entire life insurance policy’s cash value is set. When you purchase it the return on other types of coverage. That are permanent (such as universal life) depends on various factors, including rates of return on investments and changes, and therefore could be more.
  • The policy cannot be adjusted to change the price: Unlike universal life insurance. Whole life insurance plans cannot permit you to alter the amount of your premium.
  • The ability to modify the death benefit: The death benefit will also be established. At the time of the issue of the policy. Although you can’t directly increase your death benefit, you can utilize dividends to purchase additional insurance.

How Much Does Whole Life Insurance Cost?

On average, life policies can be considerably more expensive than traditional insurance. Investopedia analysis utilizing Quotacy found that the median monthly price for a $500,000 total life insurance policy is $247 for a 30-year-old female to $887 for a 60-year-old male.

The monthly costs of term insurance vary between $25 for a 30-year-old female up to $241 for an older male, for the same protection.

Term Life Insurance Costs
$500,000 Coverage Average Monthly Cost, Male Average Monthly Cost, Female
30 years old $30 $25
40 years old $52 $42
50 years old $138 $101
55 years old $241 $180

Source: Quotacy. Quotes include the 30-year term of a $500,000 policy for males and women with excellent health.

Whole Life Insurance Costs
$500,000 Coverage Average Monthly Cost, Male Average Monthly Cost, Female
30 $282 $247
40 $382 $352
50 $571 $498
60 $887 $782

Source: Quotacy. Quotes for a life insurance policy, suited to both women and men in good health.

What Is the Difference Between Universal and Whole Life Insurance?

Universal life insurance, as well as complete life insurance, are two types of life insurance. With a permanent term that provides guaranteed death benefits over the life of the person insured. However, a universal life policy allows the insured to alter the death benefit and the costs. More death benefits mean higher rates.

Whole life insurance in contrast cannot allow modifications in the amount of death. Benefits or the cost of premiums are determined upon the date of issue.

How Much Is Whole Life Insurance?

The cost of life insurance differs based on various factors like the age of the insured, occupation, and medical record. The older applicants usually are charged more than the younger ones. Individuals with a great health record typically receive higher rates than those who have a history of health issues.

The amount paid for coverage will determine the amount the policyholder has to pay. The more face value the greater the cost. Additionally, certain companies offer greater rates than others regardless of the individual applicant and risk profile. It’s also important to remember you can get the same coverage for an amount. Full life insurance is a lot more expensive than term insurance.

What Is Modified Whole Life Insurance?

Modified life insurance can be described as a type of permanent life insurance. That has premiums that increase following a specified time. The policyholder pays lower costs than the same premium in the first few years and then higher rates in later years. The traditional premiums for whole life insurance will remain unchanged throughout the term of the plan.

The Bottom Line

The majority of whole life insurance policies have an affordable premium as well as a death benefit. It also provides an unassurably high benefit upon dying of an insured regardless of the date they die.

A portion of the premiums that you pay for a life insurance policy are deposited into an investment component that is called”the cash value. The funds are invested with an assured return once they’ve reached a sufficient size. You can borrow or withdraw cash value tax-free.

This, along with the fact that whole life insurance will cover your life until you die (as long you pay the premiums). Provides a clear advantage over the life insurance term in which you only get paid when your passing occurs within a specified timeframe. However, it also is more expensive.

About Emily Roberts

Emily Roberts is a 25-year-old Blogger and Digital Marketer from USA. She is a certified Computer Engineer and currently doing work on many Digital Marketing projects. She is running many websites as well.

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