PolicyMe Life Insurance
Get a free online quote
- Reputable provider
- No medical exam required
- Apply online
Finder is committed to editorial independence. While we receive compensation when you click links to partners, they do not influence our content.
Whole life insurance is the most basic permanent policy. It pays out a death benefit to your beneficiaries, and it also accumulates cash value that you can tap into during your lifetime. But like all lifelong coverage, it can be expensive.
A whole life policy is a type of permanent life insurance coverage that lasts your entire life, as long as you pay your premiums. The premiums should stay the same for the life of the policy, so you’ll know exactly how much you’ll pay each month.
Unlike term life insurance, these policies earn cash value on a portion of your premium.
Similar to whole life insurance, term life coverage provides a lump sum death benefit in the event that the policyholder passes away while the policy is still active. There are some notable differences between whole life and term life insurance. These include:
|Whole life insurance||Term life insurance|
|Cost||More expensive, due to the investment portion of the policy.||More affordable during earlier terms. The cost can increase significantly as you age.|
|Length of coverage||Coverage for your entire life, provided that premiums are paid.||Remains active for the term selected by the policy owner in the agreement. This can usually be renewed for additional terms.|
|Flexibility||Not so much — you generally can’t change your coverage amount when your needs change.||Very flexible — you can usually apply to increase your coverage|
|Features and benefits||The cash value component allows you to borrow funds when required and can serve as a relatively secure savings and investment option.||Greater range of features — you may also be able to link term life with other types of life insurance to cover temporary and permanent disabilities.|
Financial advisers will often recommend term life insurance for insurance purposes and suggest that you find other ways to invest the remainder of your money to get a greater return. However, this depends on how much money you have available for investment purposes and whether you have already maxed out more traditional savings options like RRSPs and TFSAs.
A whole life insurance policy has two parts: a death benefit, and a savings component. The death benefit is guaranteed, which means your beneficiaries will receive a payout when you die. The savings component is called the “cash surrender value” (CSV) and can benefit you while you’re still alive.
Whole life insurance policies invest a portion of your premiums so your policy can build cash value over time, which accumulates on a tax-deferred basis. Once you’ve built up sufficient cash value, you can use that money to pay your premiums, or withdraw it to cover other costs like tuition or a mortgage. You’ll likely be able to withdraw a maximum amount of funds which adds up to the total value of the premiums paid. Because of this additional investment component, your whole life insurance policy eventually becomes an asset, or a source of equity.
If you decide to take out a loan against your policy, your insurer will likely charge you interest. And if you don’t pay it back before you die, your insurer could reduce the death benefit by the outstanding amount (so your beneficiaries receive less money).
On the other hand, cash withdrawals will decrease the value of your policy — but they won’t affect the death benefit. With whole life insurance, the cash value doesn’t automatically roll into the total payout. Make sure you review your policy closely, because in many cases if you don’t use your cash value while you’re alive, you’ll lose it.
If you want to build cash value faster, find out if you can pay an additional premium on top of your regularly scheduled payment.
Whole life insurance costs significantly more than term life for a few reasons.
Term life insurance is temporary and doesn’t build cash value. If life insurance is a game of risk, term life is a good gamble for insurers because most people outlive their policies. When that happens, insurers don’t need to cough up any money for a death benefit payout, so they can pocket all of the money payed as premiums.
Whole life insurance offers permanent protection and a guaranteed death benefit. As long as you keep up your premiums, your insurer will pay your beneficiaries when you die. This type of coverage also has a cash value — and often a guaranteed rate of investment return on a portion of your premium.
It’s an investment, and that’s why the coverage amounts are higher.
The CRA states that premiums paid for whole life insurance are not tax deductible. Here are a few things to be aware of when it comes to taxes:
Whole life insurance policies present a number of benefits and drawbacks to owners.
It’s important to note that whole life insurance policies could have expiration dates. Some policies expire when the insured turns 100 years old or older. Read through your policy carefully to find out what happens to your CSV should your policy expire.
If you miss several payments, your insurer will end your policy and you’ll no longer have coverage. Some policies can be setup to automatically pay the premium from the cash value if you miss some payments. Still, repeated missed payments could lead to the policy getting canceled. Or when you do start making payments again, you may have to repay the cash value taken to cover your premium.
If you’re struggling to pay your premiums, you may have options:
When you’re comparing carriers, take these factors into account.
The goal of whole life insurance is not only to provide your family with a financial safety net when you’re gone, but also to earn money. Find out if your insurer has the resources to pay out claims, while also helping you build wealth.
Ratings agencies assess the financial strength of an insurer by looking at the company’s current financial situation, as well as their future outlook.
Here are some of the leading agencies and associated ratings scales that denote strong financials.
Your insurer may guarantee a minimum rate of return on the cash value of your whole life policy. The higher the rate, the more cash value you’ll earn.
Ask your insurer about the growth rate, and how they achieved that number. For instance, some companies will reinvest dividends into your cash value. This is great news for policyholders, but if the dividends are based on the company’s profits, they aren’t guaranteed. When you’re looking at projections, go off the base growth rate.
Life insurance companies fall into one of two categories: mutual and stock (or public). Which type of company you choose will depend on your financial preferences.
Mutual life insurance companies are owned entirely by their policyholders. If the company performs well, you’ll benefit from that in the form of dividends. With whole life insurance, those dividends could be invested into the cash value portion of your policy.
Stock life insurance companies are publicly owned and traded on the stock exchange. The value of the company fluctuates with the market, and any investor who purchases stock in the company is a shareholder.
Financials aside, you want to choose a whole life insurer that treats its customers well. There are various sites that determine this, including the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and J.D. Power. These sites rate insurers’ interaction, transparency and operations. The BBB also records consumer complaints, and docks points when businesses fail to respond to them in a timely manner.
If these situations apply to you, whole life insurance may be a suitable choice:
If whole life insurance isn’t right for you, these are some other options:
Once you’ve decided which type of policy is best suited to your needs, read our helpful guide about how to purchase a life insurance policy.
Life insurance is a serious matter, so it’s important that you give it the proper attention. When you know about all of the different policies on the market, you can narrow down which one will work best for your situation. To get the most competitive rates possible with the most flexible policy, reach out to a few choice providers and compare policies.
Need more general information about life insurance? Read our guide to life insurance.
Steps to owning and managing BIO, with 24-hour and historical pricing before you buy.
Steps to owning and managing ARES, with 24-hour and historical pricing before you buy.
A single point separates Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in a thrilling Formula 1 battle going into this weekend’s race in Portugal.
Our algorithm selected 20 US stocks worth watching in 2021.
Steps to owning and managing BIP, with 24-hour and historical pricing before you buy.
Steps to owning and managing LOGI, with 24-hour and historical pricing before you buy.
Steps to owning and managing PKI, with 24-hour and historical pricing before you buy.
Steps to owning and managing UI, with 24-hour and historical pricing before you buy.
Steps to owning and managing VALE, with 24-hour and historical pricing before you buy.
Steps to owning and managing KKR, with 24-hour and historical pricing before you buy.
You must be logged in to post a comment.
finder.com is an independent comparison platform and information service that aims to provide you with the tools you need to make better decisions. While we are independent, the offers that appear on this site are from companies from which finder.com receives compensation. We may receive compensation from our partners for placement of their products or services. We may also receive compensation if you click on certain links posted on our site. While compensation arrangements may affect the order, position or placement of product information, it doesn't influence our assessment of those products. Please don't interpret the order in which products appear on our Site as any endorsement or recommendation from us. finder.com compares a wide range of products, providers and services but we don't provide information on all available products, providers or services. Please appreciate that there may be other options available to you than the products, providers or services covered by our service.