What is life insurance?

With a wide range of life insurance policies available in the market today, it is important to know how to select the best option. With rising awareness about financial products and its benefits, an increasing number of individuals are investing in different types of life insurance policies.

In return for the insurance company's promise to pay, the purchaser of the policy pays a periodic sum of money called a "premium". In most cases, the premium can be paid monthly, quarterly or annually. If premiums are not paid as agreed, the policy may lapse. This quickly occurs in the case of term insurance which does not accumulate "cash value". Cash value accumulates in "whole life" policies but not in "term insurance" policies.

Cash value may be thought of as a savings account within the policy. If cash value has accumulated and premiums stop, the accumulated cash value may be used to pay the premiums. Once the cash value has been fully used, the policy will lapse for non-payment of premium.

A person can buy insurance on his/her own life. Additionally, another person or entity, such as a business partner or a corporation, can buy insurance on another person provided that that buyer has an "insurable interest" in the life of the person to be insured. An insurable interest essentially means a "stake" in the continued life of the person insured. The stake can be financial, based upon certain family relationships, or other reasons that the insurer permits and State law recognizes.