permanent life insurance

Permanent life insurance refers to life insurance that has no expiration date and that provides for the payment of the face value upon death of the insured, regardless of when it may occur.

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This contrasts with term insurance, which pays benefits only if death takes place during the limited term (e.g., 1, 3, 5, or 10 years) of the policy. Under permanent life insurance policies, the insured pays a level premium rate all of their life. This approach results in an overpayment of premiums in the early years of the policy and an underpayment in the latter years—which is intended to average out over the life of the insured. Most types of permanent life insurance (e.g., whole life, universal life, and variable life insurance) accumulate a cash value that the insured may borrow or otherwise use.