Basic Life Insurance Terms

What are some basic life insurance terms I should know?

Policy owner

The policy owner is the person who owns the life insurance. In many cases, the policy owner is also the person who is insured by the policy. However, the policy owner may also be a relative of the insured, a trust, partnership, or a corporation.


A beneficiary is the person(s) selected by the policy owner to receive the life insurance payments upon the death of the insured.


Premiums are the payments made to the insurance company to purchase and keep a policy active.

Death benefit

A death benefit is the amount paid to the beneficiary at the time of the death of the insured.

Face amount

The face amount of the policy is the amount of the death benefit as stated in the policy. This does not include additional amounts that the policy may provide.

Insured/insured life

Insurability refers to how likely an application is to be offered coverage based on current health, medical background, family history and other factors.