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9 Dec 2023
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Vitaility Life
Royal London
Legal & General

Term Life Insurance Explained

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Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance is the cheapest, most basic form of life insurance. It covers you for a fixed period and pays out a one off lump sum if you die during the policy term. With some term life insurance policies you can add on additional options, like increasing benefit, critical illness cover. If you do add on critical illness cover, the plan will pay out once on diagnosis of a qualifying critical illness or if you die during the term of the policy.

Term Life Insurance Pros and Cons


  • If you want to leave a cash sum to your family, dependants or to pay off a mortgage after you have died, term insurance could be right for you.
  • Term life insurance is one of the most affordable type of life insurance.


  • More expensive than Decreasing term insurance for mortgage protection.
  • The policy only pays out if you die or are diagnosed with a qualifying critical illness, if you add on critical illness cover, during the term of the plan. If you survive beyond the end of the term the policy has no maturity value.

What is Term Life Insurance?

Term life insurance pays a lump sum in the event of death within a specified period of your choice (known as the 'term'). Premiums are normally paid monthly though some policies allow annual pay.

There is no investment element with this form of life insurance, as such if no claim has been made there is no maturity value payable at the end of the term.

Term life insurance is the cheapest and simplest form of life insurance. You are covered for as long as you pay the monthly premiums. If you stop paying the premiums, the policy stops.

Different types of term life insurance are available:

Level Term Insurance

  • lump sum is payable on the event of death. This lump sum remains level throughout the period of the life insurance term.

Decreasing Term Life Insurance

  • a lump sum is payable on the event of death. This lump sum decreases by a fixed amount during the period of the term, decreasing to nil by the end of the insured period. This form of cover is usually used for mortgages or other loans where the amount owed decreases year on year.

Increasing Term Life Insurance

  • the sum assured is reviewed each year and the assurance company will write to you to inform you of the revised sum assured, typically increasing in-line with inflation. The premium will also rise if you accept the increase in your cover.

Family Income Benefit

  • This type of cover, gives your loved ones a regular monthly income not a lump sum. (this income ia not taxable as earned income) But the income is only paid for the term of the policy, so the nearer the end of the policy you die, the fewer years it pays out for.

The premiums you pay will depend on the sum to be insured, the period of insurance cover, your age, health and whether you smoke or not. A non smoker is usually defined as someone who has not smoked or used nicotine products for at least the last twelve months. Recently some insurance companies still charge a higher premium for ex smokers depending on when they have stopped. If you are an ex smoker its is worth checking this out with an advisor before completing an online ap placation.

Additional options and areas for consideration include:

  • Critical Illness: a lump sum is paid in the event of diagnosis of qualifying critical illnesses. You can save money by combining term insurance with critical illness cover. However, depending on the policy type, this may provide a single payout should death follow a critical illness diagnosis, rather than two payout's if cover is obtained separately.
  • Terminal Illness: the lump sum is paid early on diagnosis of a terminal illness. This allows you to make arrangements for your dependents whilst you are still alive.
  • Waiver of Premium: if illness prevents you from working your monthly premiums are paid on your behalf for after a set deferment period. Check the quotes Key Facts documents for each quotation produced.
  • Guaranteed Premiums: guaranteed premiums ensure that the premiums remain the same throughout the duration of the policy term. Alternatively 'reviewable premiums' require the premiums to be reviewed periodically, typically every five years, meaning that premiums can increase following review.
  • Trusts: This can avoid delays in money going to dependents and can avoid the risk of having to pay inheritance tax.

The financial Conduct Authority does not regulate inheritance tax planning and trusts.

The terms and conditions of term life insurance policies vary, so make sure you understand the scope of the cover being offered by reading the insurance companies Key facts document before taking out the policy.

Term Life Insurance Plans are Available on

Single Life

  • Pays out on death of life assured

Joint life first death

  • Pays out once death of first  policy holder then stops (normally taken for protection)

Joint Life Last survivor

  • Pays out once on death of the second policy holder (normal taken for inheritance tax planning )Always complete any term life insurance application honestly as failure to do so will result in the insurer refusing to pay on the event of death. Medicals are some times required (paid for by the insure), in some circumstances a report may be required from your doctor before you term life insurance policy is accepted.

Term Life Insurance Quote

Our Term insurance quote tool allows you to compare the leading insurance companies term life insurance premiums. What's more Go Direct guarantee that at the time of application you will not get cheaper like for like cover as we rebate 50% of the initial commission the provider pays us back into your term life insurance policy.

Do you want Advice on Term Life Insurance ?

After you have compared the term life insurance information if you would like Term Life Insurance Advice, please complete our life insurance enquiry form and we will contact you to discuss your term life insurance and protection needs.

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