What are some coverage characteristic of life insurance?

Number one characteristic is that it provides a benefit upon the insured's death.
Secondary benefits are: cash value accumulation (on whole life and universal life insurance plans), which can be used as loans for personal use, to supplement retirement funds, or to increase the death benefit.
The term insurance policies can have a Return of Premium feature, that would return all premiums back at the end of the term (10, 20 or 30 years).