It can be difficult to make sense of life insurance terminology. Here is a brief overview of the most common terms:
· Accidental death insurance: Also known as accidental death and dismemberment insurance, or AD&D, this coverage pays you or a beneficiary a benefit if you are in an accident that results in your being killed or dismembered.
· Annuities: An annuity is a type of insurance that either pays income after your initial investment (immediate annuity) or accumulates income (deferred annuity). Either of these types of annuities can be fixed (guaranteed) or assigned a variable rate that pays out based on the policy’s associated investments. Life insurance companies typically offer annuities to help people obtain a stable income during retirement.
· Critical Illness Insurance: While not a life insurance policy, critical illness insurance is often available through life insurance companies. You might buy critical illness insurance (or CI) if you have a family history of heart disease or cancer in order to ensure that you have the financial resources to pay for your care if you are diagnosed with a severe illness.
· No exam life insurance: This is life insurance coverage that some companies offer without requiring a medical exam first. Typically, this option will be more expensive because without submitting the results of a medical exam to the insurance company, you are an unknown and potentially greater risk.
· Term life insurance: This is a life insurance policy that provides a death benefit only. Your annual premiums are locked in for a set term, such as 10 or 20 years. In the event that you pass away during this period, a death benefit is paid to your beneficiaries.
· Permanent life insurance: This is a long-term policy, such as universal life insurance or whole life insurance, that includes an investment component and can cover retirement expenses in addition to providing a death benefit.
· Universal life insurance: A permanent life insurance policy with a “liquid” account that accrues cash value, as well as interest, with each premium you pay. You can take out loans as needed for unexpected expenses or opportunities, such as a home purchase. You also can pay more than the scheduled premium, or take breaks from paying premiums.
· Whole life insurance: Whole life is a permanent policy with an investment component that provides for your financial needs similarly to universal life insurance, but without the liquidity of the funds. This life insurance policy accrues a cash value and pays out at the end of the policy, if it is kept current.