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What is whole life insurance?

Answer:

Whole life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance. That is, the coverage and possibly the premiums last for your entire life. As long as your premium payments are made as agreed, your insurance coverage lasts throughout your life, and the death benefit is a guaranteed amount. Your premium payments are a set, level amount that can't be increased. You can choose to make smaller premium payments throughout the life of the policy, larger payments over a shorter period (known as limited pay whole life), or lower premiums in the beginning and higher premiums afterward. In addition, dividends are typically paid on whole life contracts and can be used to either increase the death benefit or reduce the premiums.

When you pay the premiums on a whole life policy, part of each payment accumulates as a cash value. The insurance company typically invests the cash value, which continues to grow tax deferred as long as the policy is in force. You can borrow against the cash value, but unpaid policy loans and interest will be subtracted from your death benefit. You may also access your cash value by surrendering (canceling) the policy. However, if you do this, you'll be left without this insurance coverage.

Note: The cash value is only part of your premium payments. Generally, if you cancel your policy in the first 10 years, you will get back significantly less than your total premiums paid.

Like other types of cash value insurance, whole life is more expensive than term insurance during the early years of your life. But since whole life premiums neither increase as you get older nor are affected as your health deteriorates, it's often a more cost-effective solution if you need insurance coverage to last for the rest of your life. Investment returns on whole life insurance are typically lower than other types of permanent insurance, because the insurance company invests the cash value in extremely conservative vehicles, such as bond funds. If you are seeking the potential for greater investment returns or want more control over your cash value investment decisions, variable life or variable universal life may be a more appropriate choice.

Note:Variable life insurance and variable universal life insurance policies are offered by prospectus, which you can obtain from your financial professional or the insurance company. The prospectus contains detailed information about investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses. You should read the prospectus and consider this information carefully before purchasing a variable life or variable universal life insurance policy.

Under current Federal tax rules, loans taken will generally be free of current income tax as long as the policy remains in effect until the insured’s death, does not lapse or mature, and is not a modified endowment contract. This assumes the loan will eventually be satisfied from income tax-free death proceeds. Loans and withdrawals reduce the policy’s cash value and death benefit and increase the chance that the policy may lapse. If the policy lapses, matures, is surrendered or becomes a modified endowment, the loan balance at such time would generally be viewed as distributed and taxable under the general rules for disbursement of policy cash values.

Please be advised that this material is not intended as legal or tax advice. Accordingly, any tax information provided in this material is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer. The tax information was written to support the promotion or marketing of the transaction(s) or matter(s) addressed and you should seek advice based on your particular circumstances from an independent advisor.

Information provided has been prepared from sources and data we believe to be accurate, but we make no representation as to its accuracy or completeness. Data and information is provided for informational purposes only, and is not intended for solicitation or trading purposes. Please consult your tax and legal advisors regarding your individual situation. Neither AXA Equitable nor any of the data provided by AXA Equitable or its content providers, such as Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc., shall be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for the actions taken in reliance therein. By accessing the AXA Equitable website, a user agrees to abide by the terms and conditions of the site including not redistributing the information found therein.

AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company (NY, NY). Securities are offered through AXA Advisors, LLC, NY, NY 212-314-4600 (member FINRA / SIPC). AXA Equitable and AXA Advisors are affiliated companies, do not provide legal or tax advice and are not affiliated with Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc.

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GE 65695 (10/2012)