Explore whole life insurance.

Learn about the different types of life insurance to find coverage that works best for you and your family.

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This content has been reviewed by an experienced licensed SelectQuote life insurance agent to ensure accuracy. Learn more about our editorial standards.
by John Schmidt last reviewed August 2022

What is whole life insurance?

Whole life insurance falls under the category of permanent life insurance and provides a set amount of coverage (decided by you) for as long as you live, for which you pay monthly premiums. When you purchase whole life insurance, you also designate one or more individuals—called beneficiaries—to receive the policy’s death benefit when you pass away.

Like all types of permanent life insurance, whole life has three distinguishing features:

Lifetime Coverage – Whole life insurance coverage lasts a lifetime. If you currently have a term life policy but are looking for lifelong coverage, you can always convert from term to a whole life policy.

Set Premium – Also called a “level premium,” the premium for whole life insurance never changes. What you pay for the first month is what you’ll pay for every month the policy is in force.

Cash Value – A certain percentage of each premium goes toward a tax-deferred savings component called the cash value. You can borrow against your whole life policy’s cash value once certain conditions are met.

Understanding the Cash Value of Whole Life Insurance

The cash value part of your whole life insurance policy earns interest and grows over time. Sometimes whole life insurance and other forms of permanent life insurance are referred to as cash value life insurance policies due to this additional feature.

You can typically borrow funds from the total cash value of your policy to help support other financial needs such as paying for a child’s college education or covering medical expenses. Your insurance company will set terms on how long and much cash value you need before you can make a withdrawal.

However, if you pass away before paying back the withdrawal, the benefit paid to your beneficiaries will be reduced. You also have the option to cancel your policy, end your coverage and receive part or all of the cash value.

Because of the savings capability of whole life insurance, premiums are often higher than that of a term life insurance policy. That being said, your premium on your whole life policy will remain the same as long as the policy is in force.

Get access to cash when you need it with whole life insurance!

Your policy’s cash value grows with interest over time, so your money stacks up!

Whole Life Insurance Rates

While whole life insurance is typically more expensive than the term life insurance, one of the greatest benefits of a whole life insurance policy is the lifelong coverage. Additionally, your whole life insurance premium should never change throughout the duration of the policy.

Age/SexWhole Life Insurance (No-lapse guarantee with $250,000 coverage)Whole Life Insurance (No-lapse guarantee with $500,000 coverage)Whole Life Insurance (No-lapse guarantee with $1,000,000 coverage)
25-year old male$68.55/month$131.03/month$235.64/month
25-year old female$61.60/month$106.49/month$184.53/month
35-year old male$83.34/month$187.99/month$344.47/month
35-year old female$84.48/month$156.55/month$282.57/month
45-year old male$144.29/month$265.80/month$492.16/month
45-year old female$115.75/month$226.50/month$427.03/month
55-year old male$196.93/month$370.16/month$689.11/month
55-year old female$180.12/month$336.44/month$623.85/month

*Whole life insurance policies are based on no-lapse guarantee for $500,000 in coverage for men and women in excellent health from one or more of the trusted insurance carriers we represent. Whole life rates are from 11/2021. Prices could vary depending on health, issuing company and other factors. Not available in all states.

Who should buy whole life insurance?

Whole life insurance may be a good fit for you if:

  • You want lifetime coverage with the option to borrow against that coverage.
  • Your budget allows for a more expensive premium.
  • You want to maximize your pension with a life insurance policy.
  • You have complex estate planning needs.

While lifetime coverage at a set premium is attractive, most people find they can achieve the same peace-of-mind from term life insurance.

If you do decide to buy whole life insurance, it’s better to buy it when you’re young and in the best health because your monthly premium is based on your age, health and other factors at the time of purchase.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Whole Life Insurance

What is a life insurance premium?

Premiums are how you pay for the life insurance policy, with payments typically happening monthly or annually.

What is a death benefit?

The death benefit is a tax-free payment from the life insurance company when you pass away. Your coverage amount is the amount that is paid to your beneficiary.

What is a life insurance beneficiary?

A beneficiary is a person or persons who receive the death benefit. Typically beneficiaries are spouses, children, a trust, business partner(s), friends, a nonprofit organization or other legal connections and organizations.

Do I need whole life insurance?

While term life insurance tends to be sufficient for most individuals, whole life insurance policies can make sense if you’re looking for lifetime coverage and have strong finances in place.

What determines your whole life insurance rates?

Similar to term life insurance, there are a variety of factors that help determine life insurance rates, including:

  • The amount of coverage you choose
  • Your age at the time of purchase
  • Your gender
  • Your health at the time of purchase
  • Your hobbies at the time of purchase

What are my other life insurance options?

Affordability can be an important part of your life insurance purchase decision. At SelectQuote, our goal is to help you find the best coverage for you at a price you can afford.

For many people, term life is an excellent way to create financial protection for loved ones and others who depend on your income. It’s simple, convenient and very affordable—often as much as 10 times less than the cost of whole life insurance.

You can choose the policy length that fits your needs, including 10-year, 15-year, 20-year, 25-year or 30-year periods. If you unexpectedly pass away, the life insurance policy will provide your beneficiaries with the funds they need to pay for critical expenses such as a home mortgage, college tuition and even final expenses like your funeral.

Another alternative to whole life insurance is universal life insurance, which is another form of permanent life insurance. The primary difference between whole life insurance and universal life insurance is the interest rate at which the cash value component grows.

What are the best whole life insurance companies?

There are a number of highly-rated* insurance companies that offer whole life insurance, and we work with some of the most trusted carriers. Learn more about the insurance companies we work with.

Explore Your Life Insurance Options with SelectQuote

Understanding the complexities of different life insurance types can be overwhelming, but we can help. We’ll learn more about your needs and help suggest life insurance policies that meet them. Then, in just minutes, we’ll provide unbiased quotes from the trusted insurance companies we partner with to find the right coverage for you.