Should I buy what my agent calls “permanent life insurance” (whole life or endowment or other cash value policies)?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Generally no. Assuming that you need life insurance, it is usually better to buy an inexpensive term insurance policy. “Permanent life insurance” or “cash value life insurance” combines the insurance with a savings fund. This means that you pay more than what the cost would be just for the insurance. Some of your money then goes into a savings plan.
While this type of policy might be appropriate in some situations, for the majority of buyers, it would be better to get the best possible price on the right amount of insurance for your needs.
Unless you prefer and can afford the extra expense of buying “permanent life insurance”, buying term insurance will usually save you money. The benefits of this are:
1) You get the same amount of coverage at a lower premium.
2) You buy a larger amount of insurance for the same premium that you would pay had you purchased “permanent life insurance”
3) You save money that can be spent on some other investment or expense.

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