These are policies that are designed to provide life assurance for the whole of your life (as opposed to term policies that last 5, 10, or perhaps 25 years).
Small sums are often used to cater for funeral costs, but otherwise their use is largely limited to niche applications (e.g. to provide funds to meet any expected Inheritance Tax liability).
Some policies may build up a fund value over time, but this is best viewed as a side effect of their technical structure, rather than a reason for purchase.
There are two key types of whole of life policy :-
- Ones where the premiums are fixed for life, and ones where they can be reviewed by the insurance company.
- Reviewable contracts are often lower cost (and sometimes called Lost Cost Whole of Life), but you are taking a risk. See Technical notes below.
Technical notes for Reviewable contracts – the premium depends upon the policy achieving its investment growth targets, and the Provider’s actuarial experience. If people in general live much longer, and/or long term performance is much worse than expected, your premiums might increase at, typically, the 10th anniversary of the policy, and if you are in ill health, you may not be able to switch to another more competitive provider.
The value of investments can fall as well as rise and you may not get back the amount you originally invested. Past performance is not a guide to future performance.