What is Life Insurance?

6 mins read
by Angel One
Life insurance is a crucial financial safety net, guaranteeing a lump-sum payout to beneficiaries in case of the policyholder's demise. Explore its diverse types, benefits, and the art of making the right choice for your financial security.

Life is invaluable, and while its true worth cannot be expressed in numbers, the realities of everyday life and the duty of supporting one’s family often call for financial security. Life’s unpredictabilities can bring unforeseen difficulties, particularly when the family’s main provider is no longer present to ensure their well-being. This is why having a life insurance plan is often recommended

In this article, we’ll explain life insurance’s meaning, break down the different types, and help you choose the right life insurance plan to safeguard your family’s future.

What Is Life Insurance?

Life insurance­ serves as a contractual agree­ment betwee­n an individual and an insurance company. In this arrangement, the­ policyholder pays regular premiums. Upon the­ unfortunate demise of the­ insured or the completion of a spe­cified time period, a sum of mone­y, referred to as the life cover, is disbursed. This financial safe­guard provides the policyholder’s family with a lump sum in case­ of their passing. Additionally, it’s worth noting that many life insurance policies also include a maturity benefit, typically payable­ at the conclusion of the policy’s term.

What Are the Types of Life Insurance?

Here, we will explore the types of life insurance, helping you gain a clear understanding of their purpose and benefits:

1. Term Insurance

Term insurance is the foundation of life insurance and provides essential financial security to your loved ones. It operates on a simple principle: you pay a regular premium, and in return, the insurer guarantees a lump-sum payout, known as the ‘sum assured,’ to your designated beneficiaries.

2. Critical Illness

Critical illness insurance is a specialised form of life insurance that focuses on specific health conditions. When diagnosed with a critical illness, as outlined in your policy, the insurer provides a lump sum payout to cover medical expenses and other financial needs. 

3. Investment Plans

  • Unit-Linked Insurance Plans (ULIPs)

Unit-Linked Insurance Plans (ULIPs) are unique insurance products that blend investment and protection. With ULIPs, policyholders can invest in a range of funds, such as equity, debt, or hybrid funds, based on their risk tolerance and financial goals. These plans also offer flexibility, allowing you to switch between funds and make partial withdrawals.

  • Endowment Plans

Endowment plans offer a more conservative approach, providing guaranteed returns. Part of the premium paid goes toward the death benefit, ensuring your beneficiaries receive a sum in case of your demise. Simultaneously, the other part is invested, and upon the policy’s maturity, you receive the accumulated maturity benefit.

4. Child Plans

Child plans are specifically designed to secure your child’s financial future. They serve as a valuable tool for saving and investing towards prede­termined financial goals, such as their e­ducation­.

5. Retirement Plans

Retirement plans are long-term financial instruments focused on helping you accumulate sufficient funds for your retirement years. You can choose between receiving a steady source of income or a lump-sum payout upon policy maturity, depending on your retirement goals and needs.

6. Group Insurance Plans

Group insurance plans are beneficial for businesses, as they cover all members of a group under a single policy. This is commonly provided by employers to their employees, offering cost-effective coverage due to the group nature of the policy. 

7. Microinsurance Plans

Microinsurance plans are specially crafted to cater to economically disadvantaged sections of society. These policies typically offer a sum assured of INR 50,000 or less and are aimed at increasing insurance coverage among underserved populations.

How Does Life Insurance Work?

Now that you understand what is life insurance, let’s delve into the mechanics of how it works when the need arises:

1. Claim Submission

In the unfortunate event of the policyholder’s demise, the designated beneficiary is required to promptly submit a claim submission form to the insurance company.

2. Claim Intimation

The claim submission should include essential details such as the date, place, and cause of death. Accurate and complete information is vital.

3. Documentation

After the claim intimation, the insurance company may request additional documents for verification. These may include the death certificate, a copy of the policy, and any other relevant documents.

4. Claim Verification

The insurance company diligently reviews the submitted documents. If all the documents meet the necessary criteria and receive proper approval, the claim is processed and settled, ensuring that the beneficiary receives the entitled payout.

What Are the Benefits of Life Insurance?

Here are the benefits that emphasise the importance of considering an investment in a life insurance plan:

  • Life Coverage

Life insurance provides financial protection to you and your family by offering a payout (known as the sum assured) in exchange for the premiums you pay. This ensures that your loved ones are financially secure if something happens to you.

  • Customised Plans

Insurance companie­s provide a diverse range­ of plans tailored to meet your spe­cific needs and financial goals. This allows you to se­lect a policy that perfectly aligns with and cate­rs to your distinctive requireme­nts.

  • Healthcare Support

Many life insurance policies go beyond just covering your life; they also help with medical expenses. This can include hospitalisation costs and treatment for critical illnesses, reducing the financial strain during medical emergencies.

  • Loan Facility

Some life­ insurance policies offer the­ option to borrow against their cash value. This feature­ becomes valuable during time­s of financial need, providing a safety ne­t when necessary.

  • Tax Benefits

Life insurance­ has the added advantage of re­ducing your tax burden. By deducting the pre­miums you pay under Section 80C of the Income­ Tax Act, 1961, you can both safeguard your family’s financial well-being and e­njoy tax savings simultaneously.

How To Choose the Right Life Insurance Plan?

When considering a life insurance plan, making the right choice is essential. Here’s how to select the most suitable life insurance policy for your needs:

  • Assess Your Financial Goals

Your financial goals are personal. If your priority is safeguarding your family’s future, opt for term insurance, which pays a significant sum to your nominees in your absence. For long-term objectives like buying a home or funding your children’s education, consider ULIPs, savings, or endowment policies.

  • Evaluate Your Life Insurance Coverage

Typically, your life insurance should cover ten to fifteen times your annual income. Consider your family’s annual expenses, outstanding debts, and financial responsibilities, such as education and weddings, to determine the right coverage.

  • Understand the Lock-In Period

Familiarise yourself with the lock-in period. Some insurers offer a 15-day free-look period, allowing you to return the policy and make a different choice if you’re unsatisfied initially.

  • Check Claim Settlement Ratio (CSR)

Look for insurers with a high claim settlement ratio, indicating their commitment to honouring claims and ensuring a smooth process for your beneficiaries.


Understanding the life insurance meaning is the initial stride in safeguarding your financial future and ensuring the well-being of your family. By delving into the diverse policy types and their associated advantages, you can arrive at a well-informed choice that harmonises with your individual needs and goals.


What does the term "Nominee" mean in a life insurance plan?

A nominee refers to a family member or relative specifically chosen by the main policyholder. This designated individual holds the right to receive the insurance benefit in the unfortunate event of the policyholder’s passing.

How many nominees can I designate in my life insurance plan?

You can name any number of beneficiaries in your plan. In such cases, the benefit is divided equally among the nominees as per the legal guidelines.

Can I access the funds from my life insurance plan before my passing?

Certainly, you have options like surrendering your insurance plan, taking out a loan against it, or making cash value withdrawals to access the funds even before your demise.

When should you purchase a life insurance plan?

Starting early can be a wise choice. Most experts recommend purchasing one when you have a fixed income.