Term vs. Permanent Life Insurance: Which One is Right for You?

Life insurance can be complex and overwhelming, especially with the countless insurance policies out there. It’s important to know the differences between them since each type has unique characteristics that may or may not be right for you. But more often than not, shopping for policies can get confusing. When it comes to life insurance policies, they can commonly be broken down into term vs permanent life insurance.

In honor of September being National Life Insurance Awareness Month, let’s dive into some of the main things to be aware of when deciding between term and permanent life insurance.

Term Life Insurance

As the name might suggest, term life insurance provides coverage for a specified amount of time – usually from 10 to 30 years, with 20 being the most common. Once the term period ends, your coverage ends. If you pass away before the term period ends, then your beneficiaries get the face value of your policy. It’s important you consider the length of the term carefully, and be sure it covers your dependents until they no longer need support. It can be very expensive — or impossible to renew term insurance later if your health situation changes.

Term insurance generally costs less than other – more permanent insurance – and carries a predetermined premium. You will want to compare rates and coverage to ensure you’re getting the best policy for your needs.

Permanent Life Insurance

Permanent life insurance provides lifelong protection for the insured. This type of policy usually comprises an insurance product coupled with a savings or investment component. Your insurance company invests part of your premium and your cash value is then built up by the accrued interest. The growth is generally tax deferred and can be accessed over the life of the policy, with some constraints.

These types of policies tend to have larger upfront costs with higher premiums due to the extended coverage period and investment component. Investment choices offered through the policy tend to be high cost and inefficient, which may offset the potential tax benefit. Permanent life insurance is generally not necessary for most people’s financial planning needs; however if you’re interested in estate tax mitigation, financial legacy enhancement, or have pre-existing health issues, permanent life insurance may make sense for you.

Personal Capital Strategy

We generally recommend that if you are in normal health, term life insurance is preferable to permanent life insurance. Your circumstances, however, are unique to your own life, and you should speak with your advisor to determine what kind of life insurance is right for you.

When you use our free tools to input your financial information, we can recommend a level of insurance coverage to help keep you and your family protected and on track for your long-term goals.

Read More: How Much Life Insurance Do You Need?

All insurance analysis and insight provided is extended to you as a courtesy for educational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as the primary basis of your insurance planning decisions. We are not licensed insurance professionals. You should consult a qualified licensed insurance professional regarding your specific situation.


The content contained in this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and is not meant to constitute legal, tax, accounting or investment advice. You should consult a qualified legal or tax professional regarding your specific situation. Keep in mind that investing involves risk. The value of your investment will fluctuate over time and you may gain or lose money.
Any reference to the advisory services refers to Personal Capital Advisors Corporation, a subsidiary of Personal Capital. Personal Capital Advisors Corporation is an investment adviser registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training nor does it imply endorsement by the SEC.

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