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What Is Term Life Insurance?


What Is Term Life Insurance?
Reading Time: 5 Min

Are you in the market for life insurance? Do you want to secure your loved ones’ future after you’re gone? If so, term life insurance might be the solution you’re looking for. Term insurance offers cheaper rates that span a set number of years, making it an ideal option if you’re on a budget but still want to provide a financial cushion for your family in the case of your unforeseen death. 

This comprehensive guide explores the main features and benefits of term life insurance, offers tips on how to determine your coverage, and dispels common myths about term life insurance. 

Let’s dive into the main features of term life insurance.

How Does Term Life Insurance Work?

Term life insurance provides protection for a specified period, usually ranging from 10 to 30 years. If you pass away during this period, your beneficiaries will get a lump sum payment ranging from $5000 to millions of dollars. The main features of term life insurance are summarized below: 

  • Limited terms: Your insurance policy lasts between 10 to 30 years. If you outlive your policy, you need to renew it. As you age, each renewal pushes your premium rates up. 
  • Death Benefit: The death benefit is the lump sum (or instalments) paid to your beneficiaries after your death. This sum is not taxable and doesn’t count as income. 
  • No cash value: Permanent life insurance types come with an additional cash value component. Term life insurance policies do not offer a cash value component. 
  • Affordable: Because of the short insurance term and the lack of cash value, term life insurance is much cheaper than permanent forms of life insurance. The average cost of term life insurance in Canada (at the age of 30) is $10 to $20 a month. 
  • Straightforward: Unlike other life insurance policies, term life insurance doesn’t have complicated investment components or cash value accumulation. It provides pure life insurance coverage without any additional features or complexities.

Knowing you may have to renew your term after the set period can be stressful. Luckily, some life insurance policies offer the option to convert to a permanent life insurance policy at the end of the term. Check your insurance options to see if any of them offer this feature.

Term Life Insurance Vs. Whole Life Insurance

When exploring life insurance options, you may stumble across the term life insurance vs. whole life insurance debate. While both are popular options, it helps to understand the differences to make an informed decision. 

We outlined the main differences between whole and term life insurance in the table below:

FeaturesTerm Life InsuranceWhole Life Insurance
Coverage Duration10 to 40-year terms.Lifetime coverage (until death).
PremiumsLower premiums, roughly $10-$20 a month at age 30.Higher premiums, roughly $45-$100 a month at age 30.
Cash ValueNo cash value.Accumulates cash value.
FlexibilityMore flexible commitment options.Lifetime commitment.
Death benefit payoutYes.Yes.

Ultimately, the choice between term life insurance and whole life insurance depends on your specific needs, budget, and financial goals. People seeking affordable and straightforward coverage tend to prefer term life insurance over whole life insurance.

How Much Term Life Insurance Coverage Do You Need?

Calculating the coverage amount for term life insurance requires careful consideration of your financial obligations and the needs of your loved ones. Here’s a step-by-step guide to determine the appropriate coverage amount:

  1. 1. Evaluate your outstanding debts: Consider your outstanding debts, such as mortgages, student loans, or credit card debts. The coverage amount should be sufficient to pay off these debts, ensuring your loved ones won’t be burdened with financial obligations.
  3. 2. Assess your income replacement needs: Calculate how much income would be needed to replace your current earnings. Consider factors such as your spouse’s income, living expenses, education costs for children, and any other financial responsibilities.
  5. 3. Factor in future financial obligations: Think about any future financial obligations you may have, such as college tuition expenses, weddings, or caring for aging parents. These expenses should be included in the coverage to ensure your loved ones are adequately protected.
  7. 4. Consider your budget: While it’s crucial to have sufficient coverage, it’s also important to choose a coverage amount that fits your budget. Evaluate your financial situation and determine which premiums you can comfortably afford. 

By following these steps and consulting with a reputable insurance agent or financial advisor, you can calculate the coverage amount that provides the necessary financial protection for your loved ones.

How To Choose The Best Term Life Insurance Policy

Finding the best term life insurance policy requires careful research and consideration. Here are some tips to help you find the right policy for your needs:

  • Compare quotes from multiple insurance providers: Request quotes from several insurance companies to compare premiums, coverage options, and policy terms. 
  • Research the insurance company: Look for ratings from independent rating agencies, customer reviews, and testimonials to ensure you’re choosing a reliable insurer.
  • Consider the policy features: Look for additional benefits, riders, and flexibility that align with your specific needs and financial goals.
  • Consult with an insurance agent or financial advisor: Seek guidance from an insurance agent or financial advisor who specializes in life insurance. 

Read the policy documents thoroughly: Before committing to a term life insurance policy, read the policy documents carefully. Make sure you understand the conditions and exclusions that apply.

Common Misconceptions About Term Life Insurance

While term insurance is the most popular form of insurance, there are still several myths or uncertainties about this insurance floating around. Below, we address some of these misconceptions: 

Myth 1: Term life insurance is a waste of money

Some people believe that if they outlive their policy term, they will have wasted their premium payments. However, the purpose of term life insurance is to provide financial protection during a specific period, and if you don’t pass away during that time, it means you’re alive and well.

Myth 2: Term life insurance is only for young people

While it’s true that term life insurance is often popular among young individuals and families, people of all ages can benefit from term life insurance. Whether you’re a young professional, a new parent, or planning for retirement, term life insurance can provide peace of mind by guaranteeing that your loved ones will be financially protected in the event of your passing.

Myth 3: Term life insurance doesn’t offer any benefits if you don’t die

While term life insurance doesn’t accumulate cash value like some other types of insurance, its primary benefit is the financial protection it provides to your loved ones in the event of your passing. If you outlive the term, you may have the option to convert the policy to a permanent life insurance policy or purchase a new term policy.

Understanding these misconceptions can help you make an informed decision about term life insurance and appreciate its value in protecting your family’s financial future.

Final Thoughts - Is Term Insurance Worth The Hype?

Term life insurance offers an accessible and easy life insurance to provide financial security for your loved ones in the case of unforeseen death. It can provide much-needed peace of mind, cover major expenses after your death, and ensure your loved ones are taken care of – all for a fraction of the price. 

While it’s true that term life insurance has fewer benefits than other types of insurance, it’s still better than nothing. The knowledge that your family will be taken care of after you’re gone will be well worth the extra dollars you contribute each month.  

Remember, term life insurance is a powerful tool for protecting your loved ones’ financial well-being. Take the time to explore your options, ask questions, and make an informed decision that aligns with your specific needs and circumstances.

Author Bio

Mohamed Konate

Mohamed Konate is a personal finance expert, blogger, and marketing consultant based out of Toronto. He is a former financial services professional who worked for many years at major Canadian financial institutions where he managed the marketing strategy around various financial products ranging from credit cards to lines of credit. Mohamed is passionate about personal finance and holds a Bachelor in Business Administration from the University of Quebec (Montreal) and a Master in International Business from the University of Sherbrooke (Quebec).He is also the author of the Canadian Credit Card Guidebook. Read his full author bio