Life insurance comes in two main types – term and permanent – which may both be available through your workplace.
Term life insurance pays a specific lump sum to your loved ones, providing coverage for a specified period of time – typically until a change in active employment status (e.g. retirement, change in employers). If you stop paying premiums, the insurance stops. Term policies pay benefits if you die during the period covered by the policy, but they do not build cash value. They may also give you the option to port. That is, you can take the coverage with you if you leave your company.
Generally, you should consider a term life insurance policy to:
- Get valuable coverage at an affordable price
- Help cover specific financial responsibilities like a mortgage or college expenses
- Supplement a permanent policy
Permanent life insurance policies do not expire. They are intended to protect your loved ones permanently, as long as you pay your premiums. Some permanent life insurance policies accumulate cash value. That means the value of the policy may grow each year, tax-deferred, until it matches the face value of the policy. The cash can generally be accessed via loans or withdrawals, and can be used for a variety of purposes. This type of policy is typically portable so coverage can continue if employment terminates.
Consider a permanent insurance policy if you want:
- Protection for life
- Payments that stay the same each year
- To put additional money into the policy on a tax-favored basis
- Cash value you can use while you are living