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Difference Between Life Insurance & General Insurance

Understanding the difference between life and general insurance is an essential part of professional financial planning, which ensures security and stability amid life's uncertainties.

  • 1,813 Views | Updated on: Jun 13, 2024

Insurance is important for financial security, protecting against life’s uncertainties like illness, accidents, or property damage. Life insurance helps your family financially in case of your demise, while general insurance covers your health, home, car, and trips.

Life insurance secures your family financially after your demise, while general insurance covers health, property, vehicles, and travel. This blog explores their types, benefits, and differences to aid your insurance decisions.

What is Life Insurance?

Life insurance is a contract between an individual and an insurance company, where the insurer promises to pay a designated beneficiary a sum of money upon the insured person’s death. Sometimes, this contract also includes terminal or critical illnesses to provide financial security to the policyholder’s dependents after their demise.

What is General Insurance?

General insurance, also known as non-life insurance, provides financial protection against losses and damages other than those covered by life insurance. It encompasses various types of insurance policies that cover different aspects of life, such as health, property, travel, and more.

What are the Key Differences Between Life and General Insurance?

Understanding the key differences between life insurance and general insurance helps in choosing the right policy for your needs. Here are the primary differences:


Life Insurance

General Insurance


Protects against the policyholder’s death or critical illness (depending on the plan). Provides financial security for beneficiaries.

Protects against financial losses due to damage, theft, or loss of assets, health issues, or liability. Examples include car, health, property, and travel insurance.


Long-term, typically lasting for 10-30 years or even a lifetime.

Short-term, usually renewed annually or after a few years.

Policy Value

Some life insurance plans, like whole life or endowment plans, have a cash value that accumulates over time and can be withdrawn or borrowed against.

No cash value component.


Premiums are based on factors like age, health, lifestyle, and sum assured (death benefit).

Premiums are based on factors like risk profile (e.g., driving record for car insurance), property value, and desired coverage amount.

Insurance Claim

Paid to the beneficiary upon the policyholder’s death or critical illness (depending on the plan).

Paid to the policyholder to cover the cost of repairs, replacements, medical expenses, or legal liabilities, depending on the type of general insurance.

Insurable Interest

The policyholder must have an insurable interest in the life being insured. This means they would suffer a financial loss if the insured person dies.

No requirement for insurable interest. You can insure your own assets or take out liability insurance.

What are the Types of Life Insurance?

Life insurance comes in various forms, each designed to meet different financial needs and goals. Here are the common types:

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance provides coverage for a specified period, typically ranging from 10 to 30 years. The beneficiaries receive the death benefit if the policyholder dies within this term. This type of insurance is generally the most affordable and straightforward, making it a popular choice for many individuals.

Whole Life Insurance

Whole life insurance offers lifetime coverage, combining a death benefit with a savings component. Policyholders pay fixed premiums throughout their lives, and part of these premiums accumulate as cash value, which can be borrowed against or withdrawn.

Endowment Plan

An endowment plan provides a combination of insurance and savings. It pays out a lump sum on maturity or upon the policyholder’s death. These plans are often used as savings tools for future financial goals, such as children’s education or retirement.

Unit Linked Insurance Plans (ULIPs)

ULIP insurance plans are a hybrid product that combines life insurance with investment. Premiums paid are divided into two parts: one for life cover and the other for investment in various equity and debt funds. The returns depend on market performance, providing an opportunity for wealth creation along with insurance.

Retirement Plan

Retirement plans, also known as pension plans, are designed to provide financial security during retirement. They offer a regular income stream post-retirement, ensuring that individuals can maintain their lifestyle even after ceasing to work.

Money-Back Plan

Money-back plans are a type of life insurance that offers periodic payouts to the policyholder during the policy term. These payouts are a percentage of the sum assured and help in meeting short-term financial needs. The remaining sum is paid out upon maturity or death.

Child Plans

Child plans are savings-cum-insurance plans aimed at securing a child’s future financial needs, such as education and marriage. They provide a lump sum amount when the child reaches a certain age, ensuring that the child’s goals are not compromised even if the parent is not around.

Why Do You Need Insurance?

Insurance protects against life uncertainties. It covers future events such as the death of a loved one, medical emergency, car accident, or property damage, ensuring that you are financially secure. Having insurance for the relief of it cannot be understated. It keeps you from stalling and provides peace of mind when facing difficulty.

What are the Types of General Insurance?

General insurance is broad and includes multiple categories, each serving a specific purpose. Here are the main types:

Health Insurance

Health insurance covers medical expenses incurred due to illnesses or injuries. It can cover hospitalization, surgeries, doctor consultations, and sometimes even medication and preventive care. Health insurance helps mitigate the high costs of medical treatment.

Motor Insurance

Motor insurance provides coverage for vehicles against accidents, theft, and damage. It is mandatory in many countries and comes in two primary forms: third-party liability and comprehensive coverage. Third-party insurance covers damages to others caused by the insured vehicle, while comprehensive insurance covers both third-party liabilities and damages to the insured vehicle.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance offers protection against various risks associated with traveling, such as trip cancellations, medical emergencies, loss of baggage, and flight delays. It ensures that travelers are financially protected against unexpected events during their trips.

Home Insurance

Home insurance covers the structure of the house and/or the contents within it against risks like fire, theft, natural disasters, and other unforeseen events. It provides financial assistance for repairs, rebuilding, or replacing damaged or lost property.

Key Takeaways

  • Life insurance makes sure of the financial security for your loved ones after your passing.
  • General insurance protects you against health issues, property damage, vehicle accidents, and travel mishaps.
  • Understanding different types of insurance lets you customize coverage to fit what you need.
  • Both life and general insurance have advantages that match different parts of your life.
  • Learning about insurance details helps you make smart choices to protect your finances.


Both life and general insurance play vital roles in protecting individuals from different types of risks. While life insurance focuses on providing financial security to beneficiaries after the policyholder’s death, general insurance covers various non-life risks, offering protection against losses and damages. Understanding the difference between life and general insurance helps in making informed decisions and choosing the right policies to safeguard your financial future.



Why should an individual buy life insurance?

If you are someone looking for financial protection for your family, life insurance is for you. It offers coverage for education, debt, or simply paying off the daily expenses in your absence.


What is No-claim Bonus?

As the name suggests, NCB or No-claim Bonus is a discount given to policyholders by the insurer if they haven’t made any claim in the previous policy term. This is a loyalty bonus offered to show the customers that insurers value their claim-free commitment to the company.


What are riders or add-ons?

Just like added bonuses, rides or add-ons are extra coverages that can be added to your existing policy. If your policy only offers term insurance, you can add an accidental rider to it and avail of the benefits of this rider in case of any accidental emergency.


What should I consider while buying an insurance policy?

As a policyholder, it is important to keep a few things in mind, such as:

  • What are you aiming for while buying a policy?
  • Can you afford it even in worst case scenario?
  • Is your insurance offering any extra benefits?

These pointers will help you analyze your situation and help you decide what is best for you.

- A Consumer Education Initiative series by Kotak Life

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