Introduction to Life Insurance

 Life insurance is a means for providing financial protection for your family in the event of your death. A life insurance contract is relatively straightforward; you agree to pay a premium at regular intervals, and the insurance company agrees to pay a certain sum of money to your beneficiary upon your death.

There are three parties to a life insurance contract. First, there is the insured. This is the person whose life is being insured under the policy. Next, there is the insurer. The insurer is the insurance company who underwrites the risk. And third, there is the owner. The owner and insured are not necessarily one and the same. Someone can buy a life insurance policy to insure the life of someone else, such as their spouse. The person who buys the policy is the owner, and the person whose life the policy is based on is the insured. When the owner and the insured are different people, premium payments are the responsibility of the owner.

Every life insurance contract also has a beneficiary. This is the person who receives the proceeds from the policy in the event of the death of the insured, and is assigned by the owner. There are two types. An irrevocable beneficiary can not be changed unless the beneficiary gives his or her permission; if it is revocable, the owner can change it at any time.

The policy is subject to certain terms and conditions. There are usually certain exclusions that apply, depending on the person being insured. But with almost every policy, death as the result of suicide during the first two years of the policy term is excluded from coverage. Also, during the first two years of the policy, often referred to as the contestable period, the insurance company retains the right to not immediately pay out, even if the death is caused by a condition that is covered in the policy. The company can order an investigation into the death of the insured, to make sure that the death was not deliberate or the result of homicide.

The amount paid to the beneficiary is called the face amount. The maturity date is reached upon either the date when the insured deceases or reaches a certain age. Life insurance is most often used to provide income protection to the spouse of the deceased. Regardless of the reason for buying the insurance, the owner (if not the same person as the insured), must have an insurable interest. In other words, the owner of the contract must have a reason for wanting to insure the life of that person, otherwise the contract is void.

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