A type of life insurance that offers a death benefit and also accumulates cash value tax deferred at fixed interest rates. Whole life insurance policies generally have a fixed annual premium that does not rise over the duration of the policy. Whole life insurance is also referred to as “ordinary” or “straight” life insurance. Access to cash values through borrowing or partial surrenders can reduce the policy’s cash value and death benefit, increase the chance that the policy will lapse, and may result in a tax liability if the policy terminates before the death of the insured. Policy loans or withdrawals will reduce the policy’s cash value and death benefit. Additional out-of-pocket payments may be needed if actual dividends or investment returns decrease, if you withdraw policy values, if you take out a loan, or if current charges increase. There may be surrender charges at the time of surrender or withdrawal and are taxable if you withdraw more than your basis in the policy. Any guarantees are contingent on the claims-paying ability of the issuing company. The cost and availability of life insurance depend on factors such as age, health, and the type and amount of insurance purchased.
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