Whole life insurance, or whole of life assurance (in the Commonwealth of Nations), sometimes called “straight life” or “ordinary life,” is a life insurance policy which is guaranteed to remain in force for the insured’s entire lifetime, provided required premiums are paid, or to the maturity date. Premiums are fixed, based on the age of issue, and usually do not increase with age. The insured party normally pays premiums until death, except for limited pay policies which may be paid-up in 10 years, 20 years, or at age 65. Whole life insurance belongs to the cash value category of life insurance, which also includes universal life, variable life, and endowment policies.
The other major form of life insurance is term life, which may be individual term policies or group term certificates. As a general rule, term life is intended for temporary use and has no cash value.