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Basic Life Insurance Terms

Life Insurance is simply a contract between you and a life insurance company. You pay a premium and the life insurance provider pays a benefit to your predetermined beneficiaries upon your death.

Some basic life insurance terms you should know are:

  • Insured: Person whose life is insured.
  • Policy Owner: Person who owns the life insurance contract.
  • Premium: Amount paid for the contract.
  • Beneficiary: Person or entity identified by the policy owner to receive the death benefit.
  • Death Benefit: Amount of money to be paid to the beneficiary at the death of the insured.
  • Cash Value: Cash accumulated within the life insurance contract.

Life insurance can be a source of funds for your spouse, children, business partners or other beneficiaries during an extraordinary time of change. Some of the more common needs that life insurance can help with are:

  • Income Replacement: Are you the primary wage earner in your family?

  • Final Expenses: Is your family prepared for the high expense of funeral services and final medical care?

  • Debt Repayment: Do you have a mortgage, credit card debt or any outstanding financial obligations that your family may be burdened with?

  • Child Care: Do you have children or dependants who would require care in your absence?

  • College and Educational Expenses: Do your children or grandchildren have plans to attend college or seek additional career training?

  • Charitable Contribution: Are you currently contributing to a charity, cause or organization? Have you considered leaving a final contribution?

  • Business Continuation: Are you currently an owner of or a partner in a business? Have you considered leaving funds to help continue the business without you or giving your family the option of exiting the business comfortably?

  • Wealth Transfer: Do you have plans in place to preserve your wealth and transfer your assets to subsequent generations?

  • Estate Tax: Have you considered and planned for the federal tax burden your family may incur when your estate is transferred?

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Your Life Insurance Options

There are two main types of life insurance available: term and permanent. Term life insurance provides protection for a specific period of time. Permanent life insurance provides protection for a lifetime.

Comparing Basic Types of Insurance

  Term Insurance Permanent Insurance
  Term Life Whole Life Universal Life
Concept   Limited premium, Limited protection period Guaranteed death benefit, cash
value and premium; no flexibility
Flexible death benefit
with potential cash value
accumulation options
Premiums  Level for specified period Level and inflexible Flexible
Death Benefit  Level Level or increasing Level, increasing or decreasing
Cash Value  None Guaranteed at a fixed rate Available at current rate
assumptions based on index tracking or on separate account investments; flexible

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