Term Life Insurance: What It Is, Different Types, Pros & Cons

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Life is uncertain, and we never know what lies ahead. As a result, securing our future and protecting our loved ones in case of unforeseen circumstances becomes crucial. This is where life insurance comes into play, providing financial security to the family after an individual’s demise. Among the different types of life insurance, term life insurance is a popular choice for many. In this section, we will explore what term life insurance is, its different types, and why it is essential to understand its pros and cons.

Explanation of what term life insurance is:

Term life insurance is a type of life insurance that provides coverage for a specified period or term, typically ranging from 1 to 30 years. This policy pays out a death benefit to the beneficiaries named in the policy if the policyholder passes away during the policy term. Unlike permanent life insurance, such as whole life insurance, term life insurance does not accumulate a cash value over time.

Brief overview of the different types of term life insurance:

There are two primary types of term life insurance: level term and decreasing term. Level term insurance provides a fixed death benefit throughout the policy term, while decreasing term insurance pays out a decreasing death benefit over time. This means that the death benefit decreases each year throughout the policy term.

Importance of understanding the pros and cons of term life insurance:

Before purchasing any life insurance policy, it is crucial to understand its pros and cons. Term life insurance is a cost-effective option for those who want coverage for a specific period. It provides financial protection to the family in case of the policyholder’s untimely demise. However, it does not provide any cash value or investment component, unlike permanent life insurance policies. Therefore, it is essential to assess your financial goals and long-term needs before choosing the right life insurance policy.

In conclusion, term life insurance is a popular choice for many due to its affordability and flexibility. Understanding the different types and their pros and cons will help you make an informed decision and select the right policy that best fits your financial goals and family’s needs.

Types of Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance is a type of life insurance policy that provides coverage for a specified period, typically ranging from 1 to 30 years. Unlike permanent life insurance policies, term life insurance policies do not build cash value, and they are generally more affordable. However, term life insurance policies come in different types, each with its own features and benefits. Below are the four most common types of term life insurance:

■ Level term life insurance:

This type of policy provides a fixed amount of coverage for a specific period, usually between 10 and 30 years. The premium remains constant throughout the term, and the death benefit is paid out to the beneficiaries if the policyholder dies during the term.

■ Decreasing term life insurance:

With this type of policy, the death benefit decreases over time, usually on an annual basis. Decreasing term life insurance is often used to cover specific debts or financial obligations that decrease over time, such as a mortgage or a business loan.

■ Renewable term life insurance:

This policy allows the policyholder to renew the coverage at the end of the term without undergoing a medical exam. The premium for renewable term life insurance increases with age, and the policyholder can renew the coverage for a specific number of years or until a certain age.

■ Convertible term life insurance:

This policy allows the policyholder to convert the term life insurance policy into a permanent life insurance policy, such as whole life or universal life insurance. The conversion option is usually available for a specific period, such as the first 10 years of the policy, and the premium for the permanent policy is typically higher than the premium for the term policy.

Choosing the right type of term life insurance policy depends on your individual needs and financial goals. It is important to evaluate your coverage needs, budget, and long-term financial objectives when selecting a term life insurance policy.

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Benefits of Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance is attractive to young people with children. The parents can obtain substantial coverage for a low cost. If the payout is needed, the family can rely on it to replace lost income.

These policies are also well-suited for people with growing families. They can anticipate that coverage will be needed until, say, their children have reached adulthood and are self-sufficient.

The term life benefit, obviously, may be equally useful to an older surviving spouse. However, other options for providing for a surviving spouse may be preferable given the higher costs of the premiums to older policyholders.

Insurance companies set a maximum age for their term life insurance coverage. This ranges from about 80 to 90 years old.

Do I Need Term Life Insurance or Permanent Life Insurance?

The main differences between a term life insurance policy and a permanent insurance policy, such as universal life insurance, are the duration of the policy, the accumulation of a cash value, and the cost. The right choice for you will depend on your needs. Here are some things to consider.

Cost of Premiums

Term life policies are ideal for people who want substantial coverage at a low cost.

People who own whole life insurance pay more in premiums for less coverage but have the security of knowing they are protected for life.

People who buy term life are paying premiums for an extended period, and getting nothing in return unless they have the misfortune to die before the term expires. And, term life insurance premiums increase with age.

This means that term life premiums may cost more over the years than permanent life insurance premiums would have been. 

Availability of Coverage

Unless a term policy has guaranteed renewable policy, the company could refuse to renew coverage at the end of a policy’s term if the policyholder developed a severe illness. Permanent insurance provides coverage for life as long as the premiums are paid.

Investment Value

Some customers prefer permanent life insurance because the policies can have an investment or savings vehicle. A portion of each premium payment is allocated to the cash value, with a growth guarantee. Some plans pay dividends, which can be paid out or kept on deposit within the policy.

Over time, the cash value growth may be sufficient to pay the premiums on the policy. There are also several unique tax benefits, such as tax-deferred cash value growth and tax-free access to the cash portion.

Financial advisors warn that the growth rate of a policy with cash value is often paltry compared to other financial instruments, such as mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Also, substantial administrative fees often cut into the rate of return. Hence, the common phrase “buy term and invest the difference.” However, the performance is steady and tax-advantaged, a benefit when the stock market is volatile.

Other Factors

Apparently, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the term versus permanent insurance debate. Other factors to consider include: 

  • Is the rate of return earned on investments sufficiently attractive?
  • Does the permanent policy have a loan provision and other features?
  • Does the policyholder have or intend to have a business that requires insurance coverage?
  • Will life insurance play a role in tax-sheltering a sizable estate?

Pros of Term Life Insurance

■ High sum assured at a low premium

One of the key advantages of term insurance is its low cost and affordability. When compared to other types of life insurance plans, a term insurance policy has a lower premium. Also, the rate is reduced the earlier you get it.

■ Payment of sum insured

In the event of the insured’s untimely death, the family members will get the sum promised as a payout. At the start, the policyholder has the option of receiving a lump payment, a monthly or yearly income, a mix of lump sum and income, or an increasing income. This is to assist with financial demands like domestic bills, among other things.

■ Plan for the future

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Based on your lifestyle, you may assume that nothing unexpected will happen to you. However, there is always the chance of early death due to external events such as accidents or sickness, which are beyond your control. Purchasing term life insurance helps reduce the financial burden your family may suffer in your absence.

■ Options for death benefit payment

Some term insurance policies allow you to receive a monthly income in addition to the lump sum amount as the death benefit. This way, your family may find it easier to manage routine costs with this monthly income.

■ More adaptable

When deciding the period of your term life insurance, you have various alternatives. Typically, you may get coverage for 1 – 30 years. 

■ Ideal for young families

Due to the fact that term life insurance mostly lasts a short period of time and is less expensive, it’s an excellent alternative for young families seeking temporary protection. 

■ Tax reduction

With a term life insurance plan, you can claim a deduction from your taxable income. For instance, as a salary earner, you can get a reduction on your PAYE when you have a term life insurance plan-this would also result in an increase in your net salary.

■ Simplicity

The term life insurance is simple to comprehend. You are insured for the length of the insurance as long as you pay the premium. There are just three major considerations to make:

  • how much life insurance coverage do you require,
  • how long you want the policy to continue, and
  • which insurer do you want to work with?

Cons of Term Life Insurance

■ Purchasing a term plan later in life equals a higher premium

■ Your rates rise as you age. When you acquire term life insurance in your 20s or 30s, it will be cheaper than when you need to renew in your 50s or 60s.

■ There is no survivor benefit for the insured. Death benefits are paid to the beneficiaries of the deceased, and there is no survivor benefit. As a result, the insured who pays the premium cannot participate in the claim processes since they would be dead for the policy to kick in. And if you outlast the term and the policy expires, your beneficiaries do not get the death benefit.

■ Term life insurance is not intended for people who want to save for a specific purpose, such as further education, retirement preparation, or marriage.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Term Life Insurance

When choosing term life insurance, there are several important factors to consider. These factors can help you determine the appropriate amount of coverage and the length of the policy term.

The first factor to consider is your age and health. Generally, the younger and healthier you are, the lower your premium will be. Additionally, if you have any pre-existing medical conditions, your premium may be higher. It’s important to disclose any health issues to the insurance company when applying for a policy to ensure that you are accurately assessed.

Another important factor to consider is your family situation and financial responsibilities. If you have dependents, such as children or a spouse, you will want to make sure that they are financially protected in the event of your untimely death. You should consider factors such as your spouse’s income, your children’s education expenses, and any outstanding debts that your family may have.

Your long-term financial goals should also be considered when choosing term life insurance. If you have specific financial goals, such as paying off a mortgage or saving for retirement, you may want to choose a policy that aligns with those goals.

Finally, it’s important to consider your budget when selecting a policy. You want to make sure that the premium payments are affordable for you and that you won’t struggle to make payments over the life of the policy. It’s important to remember that while a higher coverage amount may provide more protection for your family, it will also come with a higher premium.

By taking these factors into account when choosing a term life insurance policy, you can ensure that you are selecting the right coverage for your needs and financial situation.

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Term Life Insurance vs. Convertible Term Life Insurance

Convertible term life insurance is a term life policy that includes a conversion rider. The rider guarantees the right to convert an in-force term policy—or one about to expire—to a permanent plan without going through underwriting or proving insurability. The conversion rider should allow you to convert to any permanent policy the insurance company offers with no restrictions.

The primary features of the rider are maintaining the original health rating of the term policy upon conversion, even if you later have health issues or become uninsurable, and deciding when and how much of the coverage to convert. The basis for the premium of the new permanent policy is your age at conversion.

Of course, overall premiums will increase significantly since whole life insurance is more expensive than term life insurance. The advantage is the guaranteed approval without a medical exam. Medical conditions that develop during the term life period cannot adjust premiums upward. However, the company may require limited or full underwriting if you want to add additional riders to the new policy, such as a long-term care rider.

Which Is Better: Term Life Insurance or Whole Life Insurance?

It depends on your family’s needs. Term life insurance is a relatively inexpensive way to provide a lump sum to your dependents if something happens to you. If you are young and healthy, and you support a family, it can be a good option.

Whole life insurance comes with substantially higher monthly premiums. It is meant to be renewed for as long as you live, and as the coverage matures the policy grows in value and the policyholder can make withdrawals for any purpose. So it can serve as an investment product as well as an insurance policy.

Do You Get Your Money Back at the End of a Term Life Insurance Policy?

If you’re alive when the term expires, you get nothing back from your term life insurance policy. It is a death benefit, payable to your heirs only if you die.

That is the reason why term life insurance is relatively inexpensive. Most people outlive their term life insurance policies.

Can a Senior Citizen Get Term Life Insurance?

The insurance companies have a maximum age limit for term life insurance policies. This is usually 80 to 90 years old.

The premium also rises with age, so a person aged 60 or 70 will pay substantially more than someone decades younger.


In summary, there are different types of term life insurance policies available in the market, including level term, decreasing term, renewable term, and convertible term. Each policy has its own unique features and benefits, and it’s essential to consider the options before making a decision.

When choosing a term life insurance policy, it’s crucial to weigh the pros and cons carefully. While term life insurance policies are generally more affordable than permanent policies, they have certain limitations that may not be suitable for everyone. For instance, term life insurance policies do not accumulate cash value and may expire before the policyholder passes away.

Therefore, it’s important to consider one’s financial situation, age, health, and family’s needs before choosing a policy. For example, if you’re young and healthy and looking for temporary coverage, a term life insurance policy may be a good option. However, if you’re older and have a significant amount of assets or want lifelong coverage, a permanent life insurance policy may be a better fit.

In conclusion, term life insurance policies can provide valuable protection for you and your loved ones in the event of your unexpected death. By taking the time to understand the various policy types and carefully considering your needs, you can make an informed decision and find the right policy to meet your goals. We recommend consulting with a reputable insurance agent or financial advisor to help you navigate the options and choose the best policy for your situation.