There are two main kinds. Term life insurance covers you for a defined period, say 20 or 30 years, and is usually less expensive. Whole life insurance covers you for life and has an investment component. “Whole life can be a way to save for retirement or save for education, but for many people there are better ways of doing that, like funding your IRA or 529,” says Benjamin Sullivan, a certified financial planner at Palisades Hudson Financial Group in Austin, Texas. There’s no one right answer for every situation, adds Scanlon, but term policies are simple and provide the most coverage per premium dollar. Life insurance offered as a benefit through your employer is nice, but it’s not enough. Some policies are so meager that the death benefit wouldn’t carry your family through the calendar year. And when you switch jobs, you can’t take the policy with you. Think of this insurance as a free supplement to the real coverage you’ll buy yourself.