As the name implies, whole life insurance covers the policyholder for his or her whole life. There is no fixed end date for the policy, as there is with term life insurance. When the policy holder dies, the face value of the policy, known as a death benefit, is paid to the person or persons named in the life insurance policy (the beneficiary or beneficiaries).
The cost of a whole life insurance policy is spread out across many years, so the premium remains the same. This ensures that older people on a fixed income will not have to cope with rising premiums.
Unlike term life insurance, whole life insurance accrues cash value over time. If you cancel the policy after a certain amount of time has passed, the insurance company will surrender the cash value to you. The cash value is scheduled to equal the face value when the policyholder reaches the age of 100. If you live that long, the insurance company will likely pay the face value to you in a lump sum.
This is not the only way to use the cash value, however. You can also borrow some of the cash value as a loan. The money has to be paid back, but there is no approval process and no risk of being turned down. You are your own lender. Some whole life insurance pays dividends, so it can be used to supplement your retirement income.