Which type of life insurance is right for me?

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Term vs. whole life insurance
Term life insurance and whole life insurance represent the two main types of life insurance. Explore the defining factors of each to determine which best fits your needs.

What is term life insurance?

Think of term life insurance like a subscription. You buy a certain amount of coverage for a set period (this is your term) and pay a flat-rate premium every month. Your beneficiaries are guaranteed a lump-sum payout, also known as a "death benefit," if you pass away during your term. Term life insurance rates remain constant and tend to be more affordable than whole life insurance rates.

What is whole life insurance?

Whole life insurance covers you throughout your life as long as you continue to pay your premiums. Your beneficiaries are guaranteed a payout upon your passing. A specific amount of money paid into the policy can build a "cash value," which could increase the benefit or be borrowed against on a tax-free basis. Due to the duration of the coverage, whole life insurance premiums are typically more expensive.

Choosing the best life insurance policy for your needs
Do a term and whole life insurance comparison based on your unique circumstances. Each one has its special features and benefits. Understand the differences and determine what's right for you.
Pros of term life insurance

Affordable premiums

Term premiums are typically more affordable. Whole life insurance premiums can cost significantly more per month. If affordability is a major deciding factor, check out term life insurance options as well. 

Simple and straightforward

Just pay the monthly premiums and stay covered. If you pass away during your term, your beneficiaries get a payout.

Flexible terms

Have a mortgage to pay off? Thinking about tuition for the kids and retirement for you? Choose your preferred online life insurance term length and get coverage when you need it most.

Pros of whole life insurance

Cash value

Part of the premiums you pay with whole life insurance can build up a cash value and earn interest. You may even be able to withdraw or borrow the policy's accumulated cash value.

Level premiums

Your premiums won't change from the start of your payment period to the end.

Coverage for life

Keep up with the premiums, and your coverage lasts for your entire life.

Term life insurance vs. whole life insurance: compare the costs

You really can't make an apples-to-apples comparison when comparing life insurance quotes. Term life is usually more affordable because its coverage term length is fixed, and there's generally no cash value accumulation. On the other hand, the whole life cash value component and lifetime coverage tend to bring up the costs. But both pay a death benefit as long as the policy is active and the premiums get paid.

Get a quote

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Explore your options
Adjust the coverage amount and term length to find a plan you like. Then apply online (with no obligations) and get your real rate.

The estimated monthly rate for this policy is:

Coverage amount
Term length
10 years
Please note that all prices quoted are subject to change, including due to underwriting.
What factors determine which policy to choose?
Although term life insurance is a popular choice for most people, whole life insurance holds value for others. Explore scenarios that may coincide with your circumstances.

Term life may work for you if:

  • You need the policy to replace your income over a specified period, such as raising children or paying off a mortgage in the event of your death.
  • You need to cover short-term financial responsibilities, like a bank loan or credit card debt, in the event of your death.
  • You need extra coverage temporarily, such as during child-raising years or starting a business.
  • You want the most affordable coverage.

Whole life may work for you if:

  • You want a policy to last your lifetime, which can be used for legacy planning or to cover final expenses.
  • You want a policy that could build a cash value over time.
  • You're at or nearing retirement age.
Want to know more about life insurance?
Understanding life insurance doesn't have to be complicated—Ethos makes the process straightforward.