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AVMA LIFE Educational Resources

Term Life Insurance 101

Posted on 10/9/2019 by AVMA LIFE in life insurance

Life insurance shouldn’t be confusing. Here are life insurance terms in plain English.

The Basics

What is term life insurance?

Term life insurance is a form of life insurance that provides financial protection for a set period of time. Coverage under a term life plan can be renewed up to a specific age (for example, age 80). If you die before the termination age, your beneficiary could receive the death benefit, usually tax-free. It can be used however needed without restrictions. Term life insurance is one of the more popular and affordable ways to provide a financial safety net for loved ones. Group term life insurance can offer key advantages. AVMA LIFE Trust offers four term life insurance products: 10-year Level Term Life Insurance, 20-year Level Term Life Insurance, Family Group Life Insurance, and 45+ Term Life Advanced Insurance. Under the level term life insurance plans, rates are scheduled to remain level for the designated term.

Why do I need term life insurance?

If you have a spouse, children, or other family members depending on you, term life insurance can be an affordable way to help make sure money is available to cover expenses after you're gone.

How does life insurance work?

Life insurance is designed to provide money to the people who mean the most. When applying for insurance, there is often information needed about your health and financial background. Health information could be collected online through data sources with your permission, or through phone calls and/or a visit with a medical professional. Once the insurance company receives and reviews your information, you receive a decision confirming if you will be offered the insurance applied for. Once accepted, as long as you remain eligible and keep payments up to date, when you die, the life insurance company pays a benefit to the person(s) or entity (a Trust, foundation, or charity) you name as your beneficiary. This money usually is tax-free.

How much life insurance do I need?

Experts recommend you have 6 to 10 times your annual salary in place through life insurance and/or savings. You should have enough life insurance to cover your debt and the daily expenses for those you love. Use this calculator to help figure out how much insurance you should consider.

How much does life insurance cost?

The cost of life insurance is determined by many factors. Your age, gender, and health are considered when you apply. Many Americans overestimate the cost of life insurance by as much as 5 times, so it may cost less than you think. Refer to our online quote form to determine your estimated rate.

What are the advantages of buying through AVMA LIFE Trust?

Group insurance from an association is portable so you can keep it no matter where you work. Plus, AVMA LIFE Trust negotiates with insurance companies to include benefits which reflect your unique needs as a veterinarian. On the other hand, employer-provided life insurance usually covers only part of your income. And if you leave your job, it often ends.

How do I apply for term life insurance?

You can apply online or download a printable application that you complete and return by mail.

Can I apply for term life insurance for my family?

Yes. Typically, your family can apply for coverage. Refer to the individual product pages for eligibility requirements.

What information do I need to apply for term life insurance?

You’ll be asked to provide information about those being insured. The initial application may require your social security number, driver’s license information, and medical details such as doctor information and prescription doses. You may need to provide separately additional health and financial information.

Do I need a medical exam to apply for term life insurance?

Not always. You may be requested to answer health questions by phone and, if necessary depending on certain criteria, have a medical exam. The exam is at the insurance company's expense and scheduled at your convenience.

Could my life insurance application be denied?

Yes. Applications are reviewed for insurability based on age, health, and other information you provide or give permission to obtain. In some cases, the insurance company will decide not to offer insurance.

How long does it take for my insurance to go into effect?

Typically, you should receive a decision about your application within 5-10 days after your required medical information and materials are received. Some applications require gathering more information, such as physician's statements, than others.

Are there restrictions on how the death benefit payment can be used?

No. The money your beneficiary receives can be used however needed. It could help replace lost income, cover funeral bills, pay off a mortgage, and even fund college.

Glossary of Commonly Used Terms

Accelerated death benefit

A portion of a life insurance death benefit that can be paid to the insured person while living. The purpose is to help with costs associated with severe chronic or terminal illnesses.


The person(s) or trust, foundation, or charity named to receive payment of an insurance death benefit.


Notification to the insurance company to receive payment of an insurance benefit. A claim form is provided requiring details needed to process the claim.

Death benefit

Money paid when an insured person dies.


Conditions or terms not covered by insurance. For example, suicide is an exclusion to life insurance.

Term life insurance

Life insurance that lasts for a set time period or term. At the end of the term, the insurance either ends or converts to a new term.

Group term life insurance

A type of term insurance offered through a group such as an employer or association. Employer insurance typically offers a fixed benefit set as a portion of the employee salary and often ends when employment ends. Associations offer amounts the individual can choose and can be kept across jobs and into retirement.

Level term life insurance

Insurance in which premium payments are scheduled to remain the same, or level, for a specific term.


The cost of insurance for attained coverage that is due in periodical payments of an insured’s choosing such as monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.


The process used to decide if and at what rate class an applicant will be offered insurance and the cost. This can include health and financial assessments.

Rate class

The categories of health and other factors of an applicant which impact insurance offered and the cost.

Next Steps

Think you might be interested in a term life insurance policy through AVMA LIFE Trust? Explore our individual product pages on this website or contact your agent for more information.1 You can also contact us using this form.

1Including more details of each plans’ features, costs, eligibility, renewability, exclusions, and limitations. Coverage is underwritten by New York Life Insurance Company, NY, NY 10010 on group policy form GMR.

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