What is Whole Life Insurance?

Whole Life Insurance offers guaranteed death benefits, set premiums for life, and guaranteed growth in cash value.

Whole Life Insurance

Popular permanent protection is whole life insurance. It offers a guaranteed death benefit and a guaranteed cash value increase, and it can last your entire life. Term life insurance, which only protects you for a set number of years and does not accrue cash value, is less expensive than whole life insurance.

Definition of whole life insurance

One kind of permanent life insurance is a whole life. It includes a growing monetary value and pays out at any moment after your death. You can withdraw or take out a loan against the policy’s cash value while you’re still living. In contrast to other permanent coverage options, a whole-life policy’s cash value is certain to increase at a predetermined rate.

For the duration of the policy, whole life insurance premiums remain constant, and the death benefit is assured. Your life insurance beneficiaries will get the entire death benefit if there are no outstanding cash-value loans or withdrawals at the time of your death.

Whole life policy features: Definitions

To help you understand how whole life insurance functions, we’ve included a few important terms below.

Guaranteed death benefit: As long as you pay your premiums, the death benefit on your whole life insurance policy is assured and won’t fluctuate over time. Whole-life insurance matures when the insured individual reaches a specific age, like 100, even though they are thought of as lifetime policies. The policyholder receives the death benefit when the policy matures, or coverage can be continued, often until age 120. Therefore, the death benefit may still be paid out even if you survive past the policy’s maturity date.

Fixed premiums: Usually, whole life insurance rates are set, meaning they don’t change during the policy. Your coverage may expire if you fail to pay your premiums on time. Nonetheless, a lot of whole life insurance contracts feature “automatic loan” clauses that let the insurer take out a loan against the cash value of the policy to cover the premium.

Guaranteed cash value: A whole life insurance policy’s cash value is assured to increase at a predetermined rate determined by the insurance provider. The cash value of your policy is increased over time with a portion of your insurance premium going toward it. Insofar as you are living, you can take out loans against the funds or withdraw them. However, bear in mind that taking cash out of the policy or borrowing against it without paying it back would lower the death benefit, which is the amount your heirs will get upon your passing.

Dividends: If a mutual firm, which is owned by its policyholders, offers participation whole life insurance, you could be eligible to collect dividends if the company does well. Generally, dividends are not subject to income tax. You might be able to utilize the dividends to pay your premiums or enhance the death benefit, depending on the specifics of your policy.

Term vs. Whole Life Insurance: An Overview

Term and whole life insurance are still two of the most often used types of coverage. As long as you continue to make premium payments, whole life insurance covers you for the rest of your natural life. Additionally, it builds up financial worth that you can use to your advantage by borrowing money or withdrawing it. Contrarily, term insurance only lasts for a specified number of years (the term) and does not build up any financial value.

Other varieties, such as universal life, have emerged in addition to whole and term life (UL). To appeal to a wider consumer base, insurance companies today offer increasingly intricate policies.

However, returning to the fundamentals, what is the distinction between term and whole life insurance, and which is best for your needs? These two types of policies are still the most common and straightforward to comprehend. We’ll outline the salient characteristics that set these pillars of insurance apart.


  • Term life insurance is “pure” insurance, but whole life insurance includes a cash value element that you can access at any time.
  • If you can afford the premium payments, whole life insurance offers lifelong protection while term insurance only protects you for a set number of years.
  • Budget-conscious clients may not want to choose their whole life because the premiums can be five to fifteen times more than those of term policies with the same death benefit.
  • But with your whole life, you can borrow against the value at any time or take it out while you’re still alive.
  • Both types of policies’ death benefits are paid out without incurring any income tax. Whole life insurance policies also have advantageous tax status for their cash value.

What is a whole life policy, and how does it work?

Whole life insurance, as opposed to term life insurance, covers you for the entirety of your life and is, first and foremost, a permanent form of protection. Although there are various types of permanent insurance, the whole life is the most straightforward. A “cash value” component—a permanent financial asset—is also a part of a whole life insurance policy. Life insurance protection has been granted tax advantages that aren’t common with many other financial instruments because it is thought to be useful to society.

Each whole life contract is customized for the insured person, taking into account their mortality risk, chosen amount of coverage, and optional extras (for example, a cost-of-living adjustment rider). There is an underwriting procedure when you apply for a whole-life policy, during which you might have to get a physical. The actuaries of the insurance then establish four assured values depending on your life expectancy:

  • A level premium that is promised to remain constant. The coverage will continue to be in force as long as you continue to pay the premiums.
  • A death benefit that is guaranteed to remain at the same level (i.e., the sum paid to your beneficiaries) throughout your life.
  • A cash value that is guaranteed to increase at a specific rate each year until it reaches the face value of the policy at a given age, usually 100 or 121, is referred to as a guaranteed cash value.
  • a guaranteed endowment: If the insured person is still alive at the contract’s stipulated age, usually 100 or 121, the death benefit is guaranteed to be paid.
  • You can take advantage of several perks from a policy’s cash value while you’re still living. It might take some time for it to accumulate enough money to be beneficial, but once it does, you can borrow against the cash value of your insurance, use it to pay premiums, or even cash it out in retirement for cash.

Your cash value could go above the stipulated rate if you purchase your whole life from a mutual insurance firm like Guardian, where the cash value element can also generate yearly dividends 6. Even amid wars, pandemics, and stock market volatility, Guardian has paid dividends every year since 1868, even though there is no assurance they will be reported each year. You can choose how to use your dividends according to your needs.

To purchase paid-up expansions is one possibility (PUAs).

Permanent, paid-up life insurance is promised to PUAs. Once obtained, this can offer you a guaranteed death benefit and an increasing cash value. The compounding accumulation of PUAs over time can provide a bigger death benefit and cash value, which can help to counteract the effects of inflation. Additionally, dividend accumulations up to the policy basis can be withdrawn tax-free (i.e., the sum of premiums paid to date). In addition to purchasing PUAs, Guardian provides several dividend choices to policyholders:

  • Payment in cash
  • lower premium
  • Purchase more term life insurance
  • Amass money with interest
  • Utilize unpaid policy loans

Here is how a whole life insurance policy’s death benefit can increase with paid-up additional insurance obtained through dividends.

Avoidance of taxes

The following tax advantages are granted to life insurance since it protects surviving family members and so benefits society:

  • tax-free death benefits for income
  • a tax-deferred increase in the policy’s cash values
  • In general, withdrawals or policy loans are tax-favored ways to obtain the cash values of life insurance policy additions.

What are the different uses for whole life?

Families and businesses can safeguard themselves against the death of a person whose economic contributions would be challenging or impossible to replace by purchasing whole life insurance. It may also bring about several other financial advantages.

Human life is worth protecting

Most individuals understand how important it is to protect the value of their cars and homes, so they get casualty insurance. One of a family’s or company’s most precious assets, a person’s human life value, is also insurable. A family or company can effectively be permanently protected against the loss of its most valuable asset with whole life insurance.

Family protection

When a loved one passes away, the death benefit of life insurance can help preserve the family’s financial stability by providing money that can be used for:

  • Making a mortgage payment
  • spending on education
  • Needs for income
  • Taking time off from employment to attend to family requirements
  • Business Security

Special insurance requirements apply to businesses wanting to develop a business continuity plan in the case of the passing of a partner or key employee. Whole life insurance can be used to help raise the funds required to acquire the interests of a deceased owner and to protect the company from losing a key employee’s services, knowledge, and abilities. Four key business strategy areas can be helped by life insurance:

  • the financing of stock redemption schemes and buy-sell agreements
  • supplementary retirement schemes’ financial support
  • Key individual compensation
  • Loan and mortgage repayment
  • techniques for estate planning

Taxes can be reduced by making a plan for the orderly transfer of property after death, and it can also help you provide for heirs in the way that best suits your intentions. Whole life can be extremely important by providing:

  • Money available to cover estate and inheritance taxes
  • assets that can provide a surviving spouse and children with an income
  • Equalization of inheritance among heirs
  • funding for kids with exceptional needs
  • Utilization of assets

The ability of whole life insurance to raise the value of other assets in your estate is one of its special advantages. The policy owner may be able to use estate assets in ways that would not otherwise be possible. It can be the “permission slip” that enables you to use additional components of your retirement income and personal net worth, for instance. You may be given the ability to use resources that you might not otherwise be able to.

A whole life insurance policy could potentially be the foundation of a charitable remainder trust. When you sell your successful business or investment portfolio to fund your retirement, capital gains taxes may be due. At the same time, you might want to back philanthropic organizations that share your values. These two distinct requirements can be combined with a charitable residual trust in a strategy that could offer the following:

  • lifetime earnings
  • a gift to a charity
  • income tax deductions and a reduced capital gains tax

By doing this, you may be able to accomplish your charity objectives while still leaving a legacy for your heirs.


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