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Term Versus Permanent Life Insurance: Which Should I Choose?

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By Author: Aneeqa Reza
Total Articles: 12
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Term and permanent life insurance in Sri Lanka are two types of life insurance policies with different features and purposes, and are offered by reputed life insurance companies in Sri Lanka. Here is an explanation of each and the key differences between them.

1. Term Life Insurance
This provides coverage for a specific period, typically ranging from 5 to 30 years. If the policyholder passes away during the term of the policy, the insurance company pays out a death benefit to the beneficiaries. However, if the policyholder outlives the term, the coverage expires, and there is no pay out. Most corporates offer similar employee benefits insurance coverage to their staff members.

Key features include:
• Affordable premiums: They tend to have lower premiums compared to permanent life insurance, especially for younger individuals.
• Temporary coverage: It provides protection for a predetermined term, making it suitable for covering specific financial obligations like a mortgage, children's education, or income replacement during the policyholder's working years.
• No cash value: It does ...
... not accumulate cash value over time. It is purely designed for death benefit protection.

2. Permanent Life Insurance
As the name suggests, this provides coverage for the entire lifetime of the policyholder (as long as premiums are paid). It combines a death benefit with an investment component, allowing the policy to accumulate cash value over time.

Key features include:
• Lifelong coverage: It remains in force as long as the policyholder pays the premiums, which makes it suitable for leaving a legacy or providing financial protection for dependents regardless of when the policyholder passes away.
• Cash value growth: A portion of the premiums goes towards building a cash value component within the policy, which grows tax-deferred over time. This cash value can be accessed during the policyholder's lifetime through policy loans or withdrawals.
• Higher premiums: Permanent life insurance typically has higher premiums compared to term life insurance due to the added investment component and lifelong coverage.

Main differences between these two types of policies:
• Coverage Duration: Term life policies offer coverage for a specified term (e.g., 10, 20, or 30 years), while permanent life insurance provides coverage for the policyholder's entire life.
• Cash Value: Permanent life insurance policies build cash value over time, which can be used for loans or withdrawals. Term life insurance has no cash value; it is purely death benefit protection.
• Premiums: Term life insurance generally has lower premiums, especially in the early years of the policy, while permanent life insurance has higher premiums.
• Purpose: Term life insurance is often used for temporary needs, such as income replacement during working years, mortgage protection, or funding education expenses. Permanent life insurance is used for lifelong needs, estate planning, leaving a legacy, or providing financial support to beneficiaries regardless of when the policyholder passes away.

When choosing between term and permanent life insurance, individuals should consider their financial goals, budget, and the specific protection they need for themselves and their loved ones.

Which type of policy is better?
The question of which type of policy is better depends on your individual financial goals, circumstances, and needs. Both types of policies have their advantages and are suitable for different situations. Here are some factors to consider when deciding which policy might be better for you:
• Coverage Duration: Consider how long you need life insurance coverage. If you only need coverage for a specific period, such as to protect a mortgage or support your family during your working years, then term life insurance might be a more cost-effective option.
• Affordability: Term life insurance typically has lower initial premiums, making it more affordable, especially for young and healthy individuals. If budget is a significant concern, term life insurance may be the more viable choice.
• Cash Value: If you want a policy that accumulates a cash value over time and provides lifelong coverage, then permanent life insurance might be more suitable. The cash value can be used as a source of funds for emergencies, retirement income, or other financial needs.
• Investment Component: With permanent life insurance, a portion of your premium is invested, potentially growing the cash value. However, it is essential to note that the returns on the investment component are generally conservative compared to other investment options.
• Financial Goals: Consider your long-term financial goals and how life insurance fits into your overall financial plan. If you want to leave a legacy or ensure your loved ones are provided for no matter when you pass away, permanent life insurance might align better with these objectives.
• Flexibility: Permanent life insurance policies often offer more flexibility, allowing you to adjust the death benefit, change premium payments, and access the cash value. If flexibility is crucial to you, a permanent policy might be preferable.
• Tax Implications: Both term and permanent life insurance typically offer tax-free death benefits. However, the cash value growth in a permanent policy may have tax advantages, as it can grow tax-deferred.

Ultimately, the "better" policy type depends on your unique situation and financial needs. Some individuals may find that a combination of both types of policies (a blended approach) works best for their comprehensive life insurance strategy. For example, you might consider having a term policy to cover specific short-term needs (e.g., mortgage, children's education) and a permanent policy to provide lifelong coverage and build cash value.

It is essential to evaluate your financial goals, budget, and priorities, and if you are unsure about the best option, consider consulting with a financial advisor or insurance professional who can provide personalized guidance based on your specific circumstances.


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