It provides protection for a specified period of time, typically from one to 30 years. It pays a death benefit only if you die during this term. Some policies can be automatically renewed at the end of the coverage period, and some can be converted to permanent insurance without need for a medical exam.
There are several different types of term insurance you can consider:
Renewable Term Insurance.
These policies have a provision allowing you to renew coverage at the end of the term without having to show evidence of insurability. The company has to renew your policy even if your medical condition has deteriorated. However, the premium rate will rise with each renewal.
Convertible Term Insurance.
These policies allow you to convert your term coverage into a permanent policy without providing evidence of insurability. Premiums for convertible policies are usually higher than for nonconvertible policies. Once converted, the premiums for the permanent coverage will be higher than those of the term policy with the same death benefit. However, the permanent policy premiums will remain the same while the term premiums will rise.
Level Term Insurance.
These policies provide a fixed premium for a certain number of years, usually 10 or 20 years, while the death benefit remains unchanged. The death benefit is the amount the life insurance company will pay, as stated in the policy, when the insured person dies. The advantage is that you lock in a certain rate for the period of the policy. The disadvantage is that the premiums will tend to cost more than the earlier years of the renewable policy, and when the level policy expires, premium rates will jump considerably if you want to renew with another level policy.
Decreasing Term Insurance.
The death benefit in this type of policy decreases over its term. For example, you might start with $100,000 of coverage and the amount of coverage decreases by $10,000 each year for 10 years. The premium usually remains the same over the term of the policy. This type of insurance allows you to pay the same premium for less insurance over time, rather than have your premium increase for the same amount of insurance.
Increasing Term Insurance.
This kind of policy starts at one level of death benefit which gradually increases over the life of the policy. You may start with a $100,000 policy and increase the death benefit $10,000 each year for 10 years. The premium will increase each year. This kind of policy may be appropriate if you see your insurance needs growing in coming years because, for example, you expect to have more children.