Life insurance is a contract between an insurance policy holder and an insurer, where the insurer promises to pay the designated beneficiary a sum of money. The policy holder typically pays a premium, either at regular periods or as a lump sum. Other expenses such as funeral expenses are also sometimes included in the benefits.
The advantage for the policy owner is not only a secured future for his/her loved ones, but also a "peace of mind", in knowing that the death of the insured person will not result in financial hardship for loved ones and lenders. Life insurance policy payouts may also be made to help supplement retirement benefits, and these are called as "Annuities".
Life policies are legal contracts and the terms of the contract describe the limitations of the insured events. Specific exclusions are often written into the contract to limit the liability of the insurer; common examples are claims relating to suicide, fraud, war, riot and civil commotion.
Life-based contracts tend to fall into two major categories:
Protection policies – designed to provide a benefit in the event of specified event, typically a lump sum payment. A common form of this design is term insurance.
Investment policies – where the main objective is to facilitate the growth of capital by regular or single premiums.