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Ecology of Money

Should You Buy Cash-Value Life Insurance?

The ins and outs of these plans can get complicated, so take your time and know your alternatives before signing up.

Cash-value life insurance is like a financial Swiss Army knife. It does a number of things in one product, but you have to know what you need before you buy it.

Unlike term insurance, which only offers a payment to your beneficiaries in the event of your death, cash-value policies combine savings and investment features along with a death benefit. These "permanent" plans also are sold as whole, universal, or variable-universal products.