Whole Life Insurance: Pros and Cons, Cost

The most widely purchased insurance in the US is Whole life insurance which is under permanent insurance, according to the American Council of Life Insurers, representing 60% of all individual policy sales. The traditional way is the oldest and best known.

Whole life insurance offers tax benefits and has a cash value component that grows over time. It’s suitable for those who want not only the benefits of life insurance coverage but also to use the cash value as an investment vehicle.

Today, we will be driving you into the advantages and disadvantages of whole life insurance, but before then, what is whole life insurance?

Whole Life Insurance,Pros and Cons, COST

What is Whole Life Insurance?

Whole life insurance, by definition, offers coverage for your entire lifetime so long as you continue to pay premiums, it can cover you for your entire life. That’s in deference to term insurance, which only covers you for a specified period of time, such as 10, 20, or 30 years.

It is sometimes referred to as “guaranteed whole life insurance” because insurers promise to keep the premiums constant over the life of the policy. Another key difference between a whole life policy and a term policy is that the coverage amount can vary greatly based on several factors, such as the policy’s cost and qualification requirements.

Depending on your age, a special sort of whole life insurance called last expense insurance—also referred to as burial insurance or funeral insurance—might be the ideal choice if you’re searching for something to help cover your final expenses. However, a term policy would be more appropriate if your goal is to shield your family from a loss of income.

Why Whole life insurance is more expensive than term insurance in part because it also includes a savings element known as its “cash value.” A portion of your fixed yearly premium is used to purchase insurance, similar to a term policy, and a different portion is placed in a reserve account that will accrue interest and increase in value over time. If you choose to cancel or surrender your policy, you can withdraw the cash value or take out a loan against it. A term policy, on the other hand, only pays out if you pass away and has no monetary value. If you die, and the policy hasn’t lapsed, the beneficiaries will receive a payout.

Whole Life Insurance vs. Other Permanent Insurances

There are three major categories of permanent life insurance available besides traditional whole life, it varies in terms of how cash value builds and how much flexibility policyholders have. Each includes saving and an insurance element. Here is a brief explanation of some other types of Permanent life insurance.

Universal life insurance

Universal life insurance (UL) policies often offer more flexibility. You may be able to modify your premium expenses and death benefit within certain parameters. For instance, when purchasing a universal life insurance policy, a policyholder may choose to start with a relatively low death benefit, increase it as their family and income expand, and then decrease it once their children become financially independent. 

How much investment risk and subaccount management you want will determine which type of universal life insurance you select.

Variable Life Insurance

Variable life insurance offers a death benefit with a cash value component that you can distribute across a variety of investments including stocks, bonds, and money market funds, generally by offering you a portfolio of mutual funds from which to choose. Depending on how well your investments do, both your policy’s cash value and death benefit may fluctuate.

Variable-Universal Life Insurance

A variable-universal life policy is a combination of a universal and a variable policy. It lets policyholders adjust their death benefit, while also allowing them to choose how their cash value is invested. 

Pros and cons of whole life insurance


  • Predictability
  • Tax Breaks
  • Permanency
  • Potential loan collateral


  • Higher cost
  • Lack of investment control
  • Smaller death benefit

The pros of having life insurance outweigh the cons for most people with financial responsibilities. Advantages of buying life insurance are


Your death benefit and premiums for a whole life insurance policy remain the same. Both types of variable life insurance expose you to the ups and downs of the markets. Whole life insurance may be a preferable option for those who desire a permanent policy but are uneasy about taking on investment risk.

Tax breaks

A whole life insurance policy’s cash value increases tax-deferred, just like it does with other permanent insurance types. That money would be taxed annually if it were kept in an ordinary, non-retirement investing account because of the interest and dividends. Additionally, because life insurance benefits (the death benefit that is paid to the recipient) are frequently exempt from taxation, those investment gains may not even be subject to taxation at all.


When you purchase a  life insurance policy, a robust policy won’t just cover the basics — it’ll cover your dependents’ future and standard of living, too. A whole life insurance coverage can last your entire life as long as you pay the premiums on time. While a term policy is valid for a set period of time, if you still require insurance beyond that time, you will likely need to replace it. Due to your age or health difficulties by then, you might have more difficulty getting insurance—or receiving it at a reasonable price.

Potential loan collateral

As previously stated, after a certain time, policyholders can borrow against the cash value of their policies. That might be helpful in a time of financial crisis for someone who has used all of their other borrowing options. And unlike conventional loans, individuals are not required to pay the money back if they are unable to or do not want to.

Whole life insurance with a cash value element isn’t the best option for everyone, but it can be a great portfolio extra if you have a high net worth.

Cons of Whole Life Insurance

Higher cost

According to report data, whole life insurance is much more expensive than term — sometimes as much as five to 15 times the cost. One factor is that a portion of your premium (which isn’t wholly squandered) goes toward funding that cash value account. Another is that whole life insurance policies often have higher commissions than term insurance policies, which may also contribute to explaining why permanent insurance policies outsell them.

Lack of investment control

Whole life insurance’s cash value feature is an excellent strategy to make yourself save money for retirement while also providing life insurance protection in case you pass away, but the insurance company invests the cash value part of your policy in whatever way it chooses. Consumer advocates have long advised individuals to “buy term and invest the difference” because of this. (Of course, in order for that method to succeed, the difference must be invested rather than being used for other purposes.) You have some investment options with a variable policy, but they are constrained to the selection of funds the insurance provider makes available to you. You might get better returns if you invest that money yourself if you’re a good investor and don’t mind taking on some extra risk.

smaller death benefit.

Another thing about Whole Life being expensive is that whatever amount you spend on insurance will buy you a much lower death benefit than you could get with a term policy.  Therefore, whole life insurance may not come close to providing an acceptable level of protection if you need a lot of insurance, as you may if you have a young family depending on your income.

Whole Life Insurance Costs

BuyerWhole life insurance cost
Female, age 30$184.95 per month
Female, age 40$274.64 per month
Female, age 350$403.09 per month
Male, age 30$211.31 per month
Male, age 40$303.23 per month
Male, age 50$435.02 per month
Source: Forbes Advisor Research

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