People buy life insurance for different reasons, so it’s no wonder that there are a variety of options from which to choose. But the differences among policies are not always clear. How do you decide between permanent and term life insurance? Which policies carry risk and which are guaranteed? And, when it’s all said and done, which policy will cost most?
Fortunately, most life insurance policies have a few common features. For every policy, there is an owner who has all the rights associated with managing the policy. The owner decides who will be the insured (sometimes it is the owner) and who will be the beneficiary. The owner pays premiums to the insurance company. If the insured passes away while the policy is active, a sum of money called the death benefit is paid to the beneficiary.
Some policies have an accumulated value, which is everything you have paid in premiums after subtracting the cost of the insurance. The owner has access to this money. The accumulated value of the policy is sometimes called the surrender value because, if the owner decides to cancel (i.e., surrender) the policy, he or she gets back the current value of the account minus any applicable surrender charges.
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