Cash-Value Life Insurance

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What is 'Cash-Value Life Insurance'

Cash-value life insurance is a type of life insurance policy that pays out upon the policyholder's death, and also accumulates value during the policyholder's lifetime. The policyholder can use the cash value as a tax-sheltered investment (the interest and earnings on the policy are not taxable), as a fund from which to borrow and as a means to pay policy premiums later in life, or they can pass it on to their heirs. Whole life, variable life and universal life are all types of cash-value life insurance. Cash-value insurance is also known as permanent life insurance because it provides coverage for the policyholder's entire life.

BREAKING DOWN 'Cash-Value Life Insurance'

The other major category of life insurance is called term insurance, because it is generally in force only for a period of 10 to 30 years or until the policyholder cancels it. Cash-value insurance has higher premiums than term insurance because part of the premium pays for the death benefit coverage and part of it goes toward the policy's cash value. Cash-value life insurance is often criticized because investment options may be limited and not as good as what an investor could get on his or her own.

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