Permanent life insurance, which has "cash value" accounts in which a return-on-investmentcomponent becomes an often complex and expensive part of the policy (most expensive cost per$1,000 of coverage). Term life insurance The simplest of all life insurance to understand and the cheapest to buy: Term life insuranceprovides death benefit protection without any savings, investment or "cash value" components forthe term of the coverage period. Term life insurance is available for set periods of time such as 10, 15, 25 or 30 years. With "annualrenewable term life," your policy automatically renews each year and premiums increase as youget older. Choose "level term insurance" if you want your premium to stay the same for theduration of the policy. Also available is "decreasing term insurance," where premiums remain levelbut your death benefit declines over time. This is good if you want to cover only a specific debt thatdecreases, such as a mortgage or business loan. As long as you pay your premiums, the company cannot cancel you. Term life insurance is a popular choice because of the long rate-guarantee periods and becauseof the ability to get a low cost life insurance policy. However, if you get to the end of your policyterm and still need life insurance, you'll need to shop for a new policy, which will then be pricedbased on your older age and health status. Choosing an initial rate-guarantee period is easy: Match the period of time your dependents needyour income to the available rate-guarantee periods. For example, if your children are young andyou have decades to go on your mortgage, try 30-year term life. If your children are leaving thenest and your home is paid off or nearly paid off, 10-year term might fit the bill. Other policy provisions that drive the popularity of term life insurance are guaranteed renewal andguaranteed convertibility. Guaranteed Renewal. Before you buy a term life policy, ask the agent or company to confirm toyou that the policy contains a guaranteed renewable option, which grants you the right to continuecoverage beyond the initial rate-guarantee period without a medical exam. This feature, found inmost term life policies sold today, is extremely important should you become sick and uninsurabletoward the end of your rate-guarantee period. For example, say that you've been paying $800 per year on a $500,000, 20-year level term lifepolicy and develop cancer near the end of the 20-year period, thus making you uninsurable.Assuming that you want to continue the coverage, a guaranteed renewable clause would allowyou to continue the coverage beyond 20 years on an annual renewable basis without an exam,albeit at a much higher annual premium of, say, $8,000 in year 21, $11,000 in year 22, and so on.