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Whole Life vs. Cheap Life Insurance

Aug 17, 2007
Term life insurance is generally the cheapest form of life insurance, but it's not the only option. Unlike term coverage, in which only the face value is paid out upon your death, a whole life policy accrues a cash value.

In order for the cash value to increase, money over and above that which is necessary to cover the premium must be collected. Because of this, whole life insurance rarely will be the cheaper of the two.

With a whole life insurance policy, a portion of the premium you pay will be used to invest in mutual funds, stocks, bonds or other type of interest bearing investment.

Even though whole life is not as cheap as term life insurance, such a policy can make sense if it's managed properly.

Benefits of Whole Life Insurance

One of its best benefits is that it will cover a person for his or her whole life. Once the policy is purchased, it will never have to be renewed. It will remain in effect until you die provided you do not allow it to lapse or be compromised in some other way. In addition, the amount you pay for the premium will never change which makes it easier when you're trying to budget.

Another benefit is that you have access to the cash value the policy accrues. You can borrow against the cash value just as you would another type of loan. No one has to approve a loan made against your whole life insurance cash value. You are the one who gets to decide how you'll use the money.

If you're not restricted to purchasing only the cheapest life insurance, whole life is an option worth considering. Universal life insurance, which is a variation of whole life insurance, gives you more flexibility in your premium, the term and death benefits, but this flexibility does come with increased risks.

However, since universal life insurance premiums are flexible, it sometimes is the cheaper of the two.

The potential disadvantages

Whole life insurance does have its downsides. One is that it's not possible to guarantee a rate of return on your investment so it may not pay the dividends you expect. Another fact worth noting is that a whole life policy probably won't have a cash value until a minimum of 3 or even 5 years so if you surrender the policy during this time, expect it to be costly.

The debate rages on as to whether it makes sense for anybody, regardless of age, gender or marital status, to purchase anything other than the cheapest term life insurance policy.

Some critics believe that if you took the extra money you'd pay in premiums and instead deposited it into a savings account or other low-risk interest bearing account, you'd accrue more savings. True or not, whole life is an option many people do take advantage of.

And while it may not be the cheapest form of life insurance, it does seem to meet the needs of those who purchase it.
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