What are the characteristics of term life insurance? Term life insurance pays a specific amount of money to beneficiaries if the named insured person dies within the term of the policy. That is the basic definition of a term life policy. The policyholder pays premiums for the entire length of the term in order to maintain insurance coverage. Some of the main characteristics of these policies are low premiums, no cash value, and it is for a fixed length of time, unlike whole life policies. Let’s look at these characteristics in depth.
When compared to whole life policies, one of the most significant characteristics is the low premiums associated with it. Whole life policies often carry higher premiums when compared to similar coverage in a term policy. Because there is a fixed period the insurance covers, the risk to the insurance company is lower than with a whole life policy. They pass that lowered risk along to the consumer in the form of lower premiums. Another reason for the lower premiums is the fact there is no accumulated cash value to the policy. The insurance company uses the premiums to cover the face value of the policy. There is no need to handle investments on the money for the benefit of the consumer.
No cash value means that if the named insured is still alive when the policy ends, there is nothing recovered for the premiums put towards the policy. There is also no ability to borrow against the value of the policy since it holds no real value until the named insured dies. Another significant characteristic is the fact that the policy does have an end date. Most policies go for various 5-year increments such as 10, 15, 20, or 30 years. But, many companies can write policies for other term lengths as well.
There are other characteristics this type of life insurance. One is the fact that even though the policy is for a fixed term, most allow for renewal at the end of the coverage. This means you can extend coverage for another policy term. The biggest problem with this is the premiums often go up because of the renewal. Another characteristic is some policies allow for conversion to a permanent life policy if desired. A portion of the premiums paid before the conversion help to enhance the value of the permanent policy. This is one reason why this investment is popular.