What Is Term Life Insurance

Know All 7 Types Before You Buy
Bennett Bier - Life Insurance Agent and Owner of Spectrum
Licensed Life Insurance Agent Bennett Bier

Updated by: Bennett Bier

Expert Life Insurance Agent

March 16, 2022

Almost everyone is familiar with Term life insurance. Keep reading!

But, many people are not exactly clear on how it works. Even fewer people realize that there are 7 types of term life insurance that you should know about before purchasing a policy. Each different kind can be used for different purposes.

Below, you’ll learn how term life insurance works and how different types of term policies can help you in a variety of different ways.

Table of Contents

What is Term Life Insurance?
7 Types of Term Life Insurance
Term Life Insurance Companies
How to Apply for a Term Life Insurance Policy

Term Life Insurance

What is Term Life Insurance?

Term life insurance is the most basic form of life insurance on the market.

There are no “bells and whistles” with this policy because it pays out death benefits only. The period of coverage is known as a “Term” because the coverage is in place for a specific period of time. It’s premium is initially lower than a whole life insurance policy premium.

Unlike whole life insurance, term does not accumulate cash value, and in most instances, it does not earn dividends.

How does term life insurance work?

It is a type of life insurance that provides coverage for a specific period of time, or term. If you die during the term of the policy, your beneficiaries will receive a death benefit payout. If you live beyond the term of the policy, it expires and no payout is made.

Term life is typically less expensive than whole life or permanent life insurance policies, which is one reason why it’s popular among young adults and those who are just starting out their families. It’s also a good choice for people who don’t want to be locked into a long-term policy, or who may need to cancel their coverage at some point.

To qualify for term insurance plan, you must meet the insurer’s age and health requirements. The policy will also specify the term length, the amount of coverage, and the premiums.

When you die, term insurance plan pays your beneficiaries a death benefit. The size of the payout depends on the amount of coverage you have purchased, and is usually paid in one lump sum.

Term plan is renewable, which means you can renew your policy at the end of the term without having to go through a medical exam or underwriting process. However, your premium may increase if you do renew.

Term plan is a good choice for young adults who are just starting out their families, or for people who don’t want to be locked into a long-term policy. It’s also affordable and renewable. However, it’s important to note that term life policy doesn’t provide coverage for the rest of your life – you will need to purchase a new policy if you want continued coverage.

The advantages of term life insurance

There are many reasons why term life might be a good choice for you. Here are some of the main advantages:

  • – Term life policy is typically much less expensive than other types of life insurance policies.
  • – It provides a death benefit that can help your loved ones cover expenses such as funeral costs and debts.
  • – It offers peace of mind, knowing that you and your loved ones are protected in case of an unexpected death.
  • – If you outlive the term of the policy, you don’t have to worry about any additional premiums or coverage.

Term Life vs. Permanent Life Insurance

The main differences between a term life insurance policy and a permanent insurance policy, such as universal life insurance, is former provides coverage for a specific period of time – usually 10, 20 or 30 years while later provides coverage for your entire life. The right choice depends on some things like

  • Cost of Premiums
  • Availability of Coverage
  • Investment Value

How Long is Term Life Insurance?

Man with term life insurance

The time range can be as short as a year and can include periods of time or terms such as 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 years.

Learn more about different terms:

A few companies allow you to choose an age-specific date of age for your term such as age 65. And, there are a couple of companies which allow you to customize your term such as for 19 or 28 years. Keep in mind that all these term length varieties are not available with every company.

The prospective life insurance buyer simply has to decide on how much insurance they need and the term or period they want the insurance to last in place.

The policy remains in force so long as premiums are paid on time. Insurance proceeds are payable to your beneficiary(s) and are generally payable tax-free and providing you die while the policy is in force.

Choosing the Right Term Length

It’s important you give careful consideration to the term you need. If your policy ends and you still need life insurance, you will have to reapply. The cost of a policy will increase quite substantially because the cost of life insurance is based on your age.

Term Life Insurance Rates Depend on Age and Health

Also, the rates you pay will be dependent on the current state of your health. Premiums can increase even more dramatically if your health has declined. There is a way to avoid these massive increases in premiums if your policy has a conversion feature/rider which I will explain shortly.

About Medical Exams For Term Life Insurance

Standard term life insurance policies also require that you undergo a medical exam. Term policies can also be found in other types of life insurance policy such as:

  • Simplified Issue (more commonly known as No-Medical Life Insurance)
  • Guaranteed Issue (mostly sold as permanent policies, but some companies do sell as term policies)

No-Medical term life insurance does not require a medical exam and does ask health questions.

Guaranteed Issue does not require a medical exam and most companies do not ask any health questions. Both No-Medical and Guaranteed Issue term policies are more expensive than a standard term policy which does require a medical exam.

We generally recommend that if are relatively healthy, you are likely going to save money by choosing a term policy which does require a medical exam. However, the cost of no exam term policies continues to come down to the difference in price is negligible between policies with and without an exam.

Which is better term life or whole life insurance?

Term life insurance offer protection for a specific period of time, such as 10, 20 or 30 years. After the policy expires, it’s up to the policyholder to decide whether to renew it or not. Whole life insurance last for the policyholder’s entire lifetime, as long as premiums are paid. They offer a cash value that can be borrowed against or cashed out, and the policyholder can also choose to receive the death benefit in installments.

There is no definitive answer when it comes to which is better, term life or whole life insurance. It really depends on the individual and their specific needs. Ultimately, it’s important to compare both options and make a decision that fits your needs.

7 Types of Term Life Insurance

Let’s look at the varieties of term life insurance and how you can use them for a variety of life insurance scenarios.

The 7 types of term life insurance are below. Click for quick access.

Level Term Life Insurance

This is the type of term life insurance most commonly known and sold to most Americans. Level term life insurance simply means that your premiums remain level or the same for the entire period of the term you select.

This policy is especially popular for those choosing to buy life insurance for income replacement. One approach you can use to save money is to buy multiple policies and use them for different purposes and lengths of coverage time.

You can also use term life insurance to cover both you and your spouse under 1 policy which is known as “Second to Die” or “Survivorship”.

A term policy can also be used for estate purposes, or for business purposes such as a “Buy/Sell” agreement and “Key Man” life insurance. They may also be used for a special needs child.

Life Insurance Riders

Many life insurers also offer a variety of life insurance riders. These riders can help you to customize your requirements even further.

Riders that can be considered include:

  • Waiver of Premium Rider
  • Critical Illness Rider
  • Disability Income Rider
  • Child Protection Rider
  • Accidental Death benefit Rider
  • Term Conversion Rider

There are others available as well. These riders are bought separately and for an additional premium. Level term policies are very basic policies which can be used in a variety of life insurance needs.

Some companies advertise “renewable” term policies. Although you select a 20-year term, for example, the policy may be renewable every 5 years. This means your premiums increase every 5 years because the cost is based on your age. Be careful you understand the plan being advertised.

Convertible Term Life Insurance

Most, but not all term life insurance policies either come with a conversion feature or allow you to buy a Term Conversion Rider separately. The convertible term life insurance policy allows you to convert your term policy into a “Permanent” life insurance policy without having to undergo a medical exam.

The conversion must be done at certain anniversary dates specified in the term policy contract. The types of permanent life insurance can be either Whole Life or Universal Life depending on what is available through each individual life insurer.

Premiums will be based solely on your age. The advantage here is that if your health has significantly declined, it will have no bearing on your premiums. If you have to renew a policy without a conversion feature, you can end up paying significantly higher premiums or be declined for a policy.

Decreasing Term Life Insurance

This type of policy simply means the face amount of life insurance coverage will decrease by specified amounts and at specified dates. Your premiums remain level or the same for the life of the policy.

The premium cost of these policies is lower than what someone would pay for the same amount of coverage for a Level Term policy. This is because the face coverage amounts are decreasing.

These policies are often sold as “Mortgage” life insurance policies. Many people choose to use these for their mortgage because they plan to reduce the mortgage over time.

This policy may also be good for those who see a diminishing need for any life insurance purpose. However, we advise you to consult an independent agent since it may be less expensive to purchase a level term policy instead of a decreasing term.

Increasing Term Life Insurance

This policy is not offered by many companies. It simply means that both the face amount of coverage and your premiums will increase at specified anniversary dates. Some companies may charge a fixed rate premium for the life of the policy.

Some agents will often use this type of life insurance in combination with a permanent life insurance policy. It may also be a good choice for younger people on a budget who are just starting out and understand they will have a need for higher coverage in the future.

Return of Premium Term Life Insurance

You can consider another type such as a ROP (Return of Premium) term life insurance. You can also buy a ROP as a separate rider for some term policies.

A ROP simply means that you will be repaid all your premiums should you survive to the end of the term. The circumstances on what is repayable can vary from company to company.

These policies are more expensive than equivalent term policies which do not offer this feature.

1 Year Term Renewable Life Insurance

This term policy is in force for a period of 1 year. These policies are renewable each year and the cost of the renewable premium is based solely on your age.

These policies are especially useful for those who take out personal or business loans where the lender requires they be life insured to protect their interests.

Group Term Life Insurance

Business Man with Term Life Insurance

These policies are generally available through your employer or a variety of business or professional associations. Coverage amounts are generally slightly more expensive than equivalent standard term policies because the risk is spread through a variety of individuals within the plan. Face coverage amounts are generally much lower than what you could buy on your own.

The one main drawback is that these policies are usually not “portable.” This means that if your employment or association membership ends you are no longer eligible for coverage. This coverage can be ideal for anyone who has health issues where a standard policy could be too expensive.

Term Life Insurance Companies

Most life insurance companies sell some type of term life insurance. Here are a few:

There are dozens of more great choices for term life insurance. We recommend reviewing our list top-rated life insurance companies.

How To Apply For a Term Life Insurance Policy

We recommend for anyone looking for term life insurance (or for any type of life insurance policy) that they always use an independent life insurance agent.

You can save a lot of time, money and aggravation using an independent life insurance agent. This is because they will perform the comparison shopping for you. They also understand the underwriting guidelines of the dozens of life insurers they use. The additional advantage works for you because they can help you save more money in a variety of ways. This includes your age, family history, smokers, marijuana users, and especially those with a medical condition.

As you can see term life insurance is complex and can be confusing if you’re not an expert. Again, we always recommend that if you need low-cost life insurance, or have complex life insurance needs, always use an independent life insurance agent.

Fill out the quote tool on this page and give us a call to compare dozens of term life insurance options and fine the best rates now!