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Life Insurance Comparison

Comparing the different types of life insurance policy.

Here’s a quick life insurance comparison! You can buy protection or investment policies, from mutual or proprietary companies, and investment policies are likely to be either with-profits or unit-linked. If you understand all these, you’re ready to buy!

Here’s a simple, thirty-second life insurance comparison:

Life assurance products can be broken down into two separate categories: protection and investment. Even the investment products (also called whole-of-life) have a protection element, not least of all because they then qualify for beneficial tax treatment.

Life offices also fit into two types, mutual and proprietary. Mutual offices are owned by their “with profits” policyholders, whereas proprietary companies are owned by their shareholders. Mutual offices ought to be a better bet, given that all profits are returned to the policyholders without the need to pay shareholders; but that’s not exactly a given- there are plenty of other factors involved.

Investment policies are either “with profits” (the traditional approach) or “unit-linked”. Traditionally, all policyholders benefited from a share of the with-profits fund. The profits concerned are an annual bonus payment made by the fund managers (sometimes put in the pot, and sometimes tacked on as a terminal bonus at the end of a policy).

In the early 1960s, a new type of policy appeared - unit linked. Here the policyholders’ money is invested in the units of a range of funds; these funds operating openly on the stockmarket. The policyholder knows exactly how his/her money has been spent, and therefore can directly assess the value of his contribution. However this direct link with the stockmarket does mean that if the market plummets, as has happened on occasion, the unitised fund decreases in value and the payment of bonuses can fall flat.

As this basic life insurance comparison shows, you need to decide whether you want insurance or investment to be the main reason for purchasing life insurance, and if you go for investment, what sort of company and management style you would prefer.