Permanent Life Insurance

Permanent life insurance is a type of life insurance policy that has no end date. Whole life insurance and universal life insurance are types of permanent life insurance policies. A female at age 25 can get $100,000 in whole life coverage for around $85/month. Compare permanent life insurance vs term life insurance to decide what's right for you, and then compare permanent life insurance quotes for the best deal.

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Tim is a licensed life insurance agent with 23 years of experience helping people protect their families and businesses with term life insurance. He writes and creates stuff for QuickQuote and other insurance and financial websites.

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Benjamin Carr was a licensed insurance agent in Georgia and has two years' experience in life, health, property and casualty coverage. He has worked with State Farm and other risk management firms. He is also a strategic writer and editor with a background in branding, marketing, and quality assurance. He has been in military newsrooms — literally on the frontline of journalism.

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Reviewed by Benji Carr
Former Licensed Life Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Jul 19, 2021

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Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident life insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We are not affiliated with any one life insurance company and cannot guarantee quotes from any single company.

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Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about life insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything life insurance-related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by life insurance experts.

Quick Facts

  • Permanent life insurance is one of the two main categories of life insurance
  • Whole life and universal life are two types of permanent life insurance
  • Permanent life insurance quotes are more expensive but that stays in place for your entire life as long as premiums are paid

There are literally thousands of different life insurance policies offered by hundreds of life insurance companies. But life insurance really comes down to just two basic types: term life and permanent life. Despite the myriad of options available, they are all either types of term life insurance or permanent life insurance at their core.

What is permanent insurance? The most common variations of a permanent life insurance policy are whole life, universal life, and variable life. All three can be structured to provide “lifetime coverage,” hence the name permanent. To determine which form of life insurance better fits your needs a lifestyle check out our review on permanent life insurance.

With over 1,000 different life insurance companies in the United States we know you can get the most of your life insurance by finding the best permanent life insurance policies with us.

Ready to compare permanent life insurance rates? Click on our FREE quote tool above to shop and buy permanent life insurance today.

Are you shopping for a permanent life insurance policy?

When shopping for any life insurance policy it is important to know and understand what you are looking for. The two basic types of life insurance policies are a term life insurance policy or a more permanent whole life insurance policy. Knowing the difference and understanding what fits your specific needs is critical. Should you buy term or permanent life insurance?

Policies such as permanent, variable, or whole life policies are structured to provide coverage for a lifetime. These policies consist of things such as:

  • Coverage can be extended to age 121.
  • They can accumulate cash value.
  • The cash value is tax-deferred.
  • They often allow for policy loans, or borrowing against the cash value.
  • The initial cost can be significantly greater than term life.
  • The cumulative cost over many years may be lower than term life.

Here’s a look at average whole life insurance rates by age and gender to get an idea of permanent life insurance cost.

Average Monthly Whole Life Insurance Rates by Age & Gender
Policyholder Age$100,000: Male Average Monthly Rates$100,000: Female Average Monthly Rates$250,000: Male Average Monthly Rates$250,000: Female Average Monthly Rates$500,000: Male Average Monthly Rates$500,000: Female Average Monthly Rates
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Who should buy permanent life insurance?

What is permanent life insurance by definition and who needs permanent life insurance? Permanent life insurance is lifetime life insurance in that it doesn’t have an end date. It has its place and is a good fit for many people. It may be a good option for you if you have any of the following needs:

  • Long term needs – If you need coverage beyond the longest term life policy you can buy, which is currently 30 years.
  • Estate planning – If you have a sizable estate that may be subject to estate taxes.
  • Tax-deferred growth – Permanent life policies can be structured to grow cash values within the policy. This growth is usually tax-deferred.

Take a look at this video for more information on who should buy permanent life insurance.

Let’s look at some permanent life insurance pros and cons so you can compare whole life insurance vs variable universal life insurance, universal vs whole life, and more.

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What are the pros and cons of whole life insurance?

Whole life insurance is a straightforward policy with a premium that stays the same for the life of the policy. A whole life policy features a guaranteed death benefit and has a cash value component.

Whole life insurance is the most common type of permanent life insurance. Like other types of permanent life insurance Some benefits of Whole life insurance policies are:

  • Lifetime death benefit
  • Cash value growth
  • Fixed interest rate
  • As with any life insurance, there are also some disadvantages
  • Most expensive type
  • Not very flexible
  • Fixed premiums and death benefit

What are the pros and cons of universal life insurance?

Universal life insurance is a more flexible policy that allows you to adjust the premium amount and death benefit. It also has more optional features which can help you customize the policy to better fit your needs.


  • Lifetime death benefit
  • The most flexibility
  • Cash value growth
  • Fixed interest rate


  • More expensive than term
  • Interest rate is often low
  • Variety of options can be confusing and costly

Most policies sold are known as Guaranteed Universal Life insurance, although there are other variations.

What are the variable universal life insurance pros and cons?

Variable universal life insurance is similar to universal life in many ways. The main difference is the premium payments can be allocated to variable investment accounts. This gives the policy greater potential for cash value growth.


  • Lifetime death benefit
  • Flexible premiums
  • Greater potential for cash value growth
  • You choose where the cash value is invested


  • Policy performance is closely tied to investment results
  • The policy could be at risk if investments fail
  • Premiums may increase to keep the policy in force
  • Policy often has higher expenses than universal life

Variable term life insurance exists but is rare.

What are the indexed universal life insurance pros and cons?

Indexed universal life insurance is similar to variable universal life. The main difference is the investment portion of the policy is done through stock market indexes. This can give the policy less downside risk (and upside potential) than variable universal life.


  • Lifetime death benefit
  • Flexible premiums
  • Cash value growth
  • Downside market protection


  • Policy performance is closely tied to investment results
  • Premiums may increase to keep the policy in force
  • Policy often has higher expenses than universal life
  • Cash value growth is more limited than variable universal life

An indexed whole life policy that is not fixed vs fixed can make a difference, so talk to your agent.

Take a closer look at the pros and cons of term and permanent life insurance and which is better for you.

We’ve also provided an overview of permanent life insurance vs term below.

Comparison of Whole and Term Life Insurance
Policy FeatureTerm Life Whole Life
CoverageSet period of time, usually 10, 20, or 30 yearsValid until the date of the insured’s death
ExpenseLess expensive monthly premiumMore expensive monthly premium
Investment/RatesYou pay only for insurance, these policies don’t accumulate any cash value over time.Along with the death benefit, part of your payments are invested and the value accumulates over the years. Can be borrowed against and paid back at lower rate than available commercially
RenewabilityWill need to be renewed at the end of each term, and each renewal will reflect your increase in age and any health issues you’ve developed.Lifetime policy, so once in place does not need to be renewed.
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What are the best permanent life insurance companies?

Finding the best permanent life insurance company means shopping around to compare rates. The table below shows the top 20 whole life insurance companies by market share.

Top 20 Whole Life Insurance Companies by Market Share
CompaniesDirect Written PremiumMarket Share
Northwestern Mutual$10,517,115,4526.42%
Metropolitan Group$9,821,445,9536.00%
New York Life$9,925,848,3005.68%
Lincoln National$8,769,303,7745.36%
John Hancock$4,640,905,0172.83%
State Farm$4,633,004,9632.83%
Minnesota Mutual Group$4,422,100,0282.70%
Guardian Life$4,033,541,4012.46%
Pacific Life$3,755,606,2132.29%
AXA Equitable$3,051,945,8491.86%
Voya Financial$2,526,828,2681.54%
Brighthouse Financial$2,519,733,1161.54%
Protective Life$2,403,640,8251.47%
Sammons Enterprises$2,321,529,7221.42%
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These top companies are a good starting point for your quote comparisons.

Ready to get started? Check out our FREE quote tool below where you’ll enter your ZIP code to compare affordable permanent life insurance rates instantly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions about permanent life insurance.

#1 – Which permanent life insurance is right for me?

It is important to understand what you are getting with each life insurance policy and to know your own personal needs to determine which type of policy is right for you.

#2 – Where can I get permanent life insurance quotes?

You can get Permanent Life insurance quotes by contacting any life insurance company that offers permanent policies.



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