What is whole life insurance?

Whole life is the most common type of permanent life insurance. With whole life insurance, your premium payments remain the same over the life of the policy. You can choose how often you’d like to make premium payments, too – annually, semiannually, quarterly or monthly. Some whole life policies can be paid up after a certain number of years. And because your policy has predetermined, guaranteed cash values, you know what your policy's cash values are going to be.

Who could benefit from whole life?

Whole life insurance is good for people looking for life-long insurance option, predictable premiums and the ability to accumulate a guaranteed tax-deferred cash value with a fixed rate of interest over time.

Benefits include:

  • A life-long life insurance policy
  • Fixed premium payments
  • A guaranteed cash value

How does whole life insurance work?

Each time that you pay your premium, a small amount is set aside, which builds up over time as the life insurance policy’s cash value. The longer you hold the policy, the more cash value the policy builds. If a need arises, and if premiums are paid, you can borrow against the available cash value providing you with financial protection.


Determine how much you need

Calculate how much your beneficiary may need to cover necessary expenses. Use our life insurance tool or discuss whole life insurance with your financial professional to help you do that.

Use your money when you need it

Whole life insurance policies (commonly referred to as “whole life”) build cash value at a fixed interest rate that you can access as a loan while you're still living.

When you die

The whole life insurance policy pays a pre-specified amount, called a death benefit, to the person or people you’ve chosen as your beneficiary - typically your spouse, children or other family members.

Benefits of whole life insurance

Stable premium

Whole life insurance is typically more expensive than term life policies, but the premium amount typically doesn't change throughout the life of the policy. Over time, this helps make whole life insurance more affordable.

Tax-free death benefit

The payout your beneficiary receives if you die during the coverage period is typically tax-free and has a steady value throughout the life of the policy.

Renewable coverage

If you need to, you can renew your policy when it ends. The premiums can be a bit higher, though.

Money access

If needed, you may be able to access your money through loans for an additional charge. Certain restrictions apply.

Policy customization

You can customize a whole life insurance policy with a variety of riders for an additional charge.

Whole life insurance payment options

When it comes to a Nationwide whole life insurance policy, you have choices. Select the payment option that works best for you.

Whole Life 100

Premiums are the same until they stop when you turn 100.

20-pay Whole Life

Premiums are the same until the policy is paid after 20 years.

Learn more about Nationwide® Whole Life.

Tools & resources

Make the most out of your whole life insurance policy.

Topics to discuss with your advisor

  • Based on my needs, do I need permanent life insurance?
  • If my employer offers life insurance, do I really need to buy more?
  • What happens to my policy’s cash value when I die?
shield with leaf icon
Not sure if whole life is right for you? Compare all life insurance types.

Please read this important information

Guarantees and protections are subject to Nationwide's claims-paying ability.