There really is no, "one size fits all", when it comes to life insurance. Because everyone's needs are different, this is why there are different plans to satisfy each of these specific needs. At times, some individuals will choose to have a combination of several types of life insurance; some term and some permanent. One of greatest values of life insurance especially for retirees is the benefit of passing money "tax free."
Whole life insurance is just as it sounds...life insurance that lasts your whole life! These are policies that build up cash value and have the ability to take loans out against them. Premiums are locked in and will never increase with age. Cash value is built on an interest rate.
Term life insurance is a great short term solution! It provides a higher death benefit at a lower cost because it terminates and is therefore temporary. Many clients like to have policies like this in their younger years when there are kids in the home that would result in college tuition or if there is a mortgage payment on their home.
Universal Life insurance is a hybrid form of life insurance. They are also known as flexible premium policies. Depending on the premiums that you pay, these policies can act like term insurance or like whole life insurance. If you pay the minimal premium then it will last a shorter time frame resulting in a policy like a term policy, or if you pay the premium that the company assumes will afford for a permanent policy then it will result in a policy like a whole life policy. There is an ability to grow the cash value based off interest rates or choosing an index option.