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End-of-Life Issues: Life Insurance

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There are two types of life insurance:

  • whole life (also known as permanent, universal, and variable life)
  • term

Whole life insurance provides benefits after you pass away, as well as cash value. The cash value means that if you live, you get back some of the money you spent on the premiums. You can get the money by cashing in the policy or by borrowing against it. Whole life insurance lasts as long as you live.

Term life insurance provides death benefits only. If you live past the length of the policy, no benefits are given. Most companies offer term life insurance for terms of 1 to 30 years. In most states, the policy can be renewed up to age 80 or older (depending on the state in which you live), usually at a higher premium. Depending on the insurance company, your age, and the amount of the policy, you may have to submit urine or blood samples or have a physical before the policy is effective.

As you'd expect, whole life insurance policies are much more expensive than term life insurance policies.

If you have metastatic disease and do not already have life insurance, it may be difficult to obtain an individual policy. However, it may be possible to get onto a group plan through your employer if you are still working.

If you'd like to purchase a policy, it can be helpful to talk to a financial adviser or healthcare attorney. Everyone's situation is unique and you need to figure out your needs and choose the type of policy that is best for you.

You may have life insurance through your employer. You also may have purchased your own life insurance policy. Some people have both of these. Make sure that you have a copy of the policy and that the beneficiary information is up to date.

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