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How to read and understand your life insurance policy

Most people hate the thought of reading a life insurance policy (or any insurance policy, for that matter). However, if you can find the time and the patience, it's a good idea to read through your whole policy. If you do, you'll understand your policy better.
December 29, 2021
1 min read
How to read and understand your life insurance policy.

Parts of a life insurance policy

A life insurance policy contains the following parts:

The cover page

This is who the insurance company is and the type of plan you've purchased, and it's signed by an insurance company officer.

The schedule of benefits and specifications page

On this page, you'll find descriptions of the benefits and details of your policy. These include things like:

  • How much and how often you’ll pay.
  • Who the insured person(s) are.
  • The date the policy was issued.
  • The policy number (this is especially important for filing a claim later).
  • Other details about the policy.


This section defines some of the jargon in the policy to help you better understand it. Make this section your friend. You can also learn more about common insurance terminology on our glossary page.

Your rights

As the owner, there are certain rights you have with your policy, including:

  • The right to transfer or assign the policy.
  • The right to change or update beneficiaries.
  • The right to receive the cash value and dividends (if applicable).
  • The right to take out a loan against the cash value (again, if applicable).

Claims and settlements

This includes instructions on how to make a claim and information about the choices your beneficiary has regarding the death benefit.

Riders and endorsements

If you have a rider (extra benefits you’ve added to the base policy) or endorsements (adjustments or changes to the base policy), they’ll be attached to the policy along with a copy of your application.

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