The main difference between term and whole life insurance is the length of the policy. Other lesser differences include the price, cash value accumulation and the length of the premium guarantee.
A term life insurance policy lasts for a specific amount of time. Term policies can extend one year, five years, 10 year or 20 years. Many people choose term life insurance policies for the period of time when they are having children and would need the benefit to allow the remaining parent to continue providing for the children. Term policies are typically less-expensive than whole life policies. There is no cash value accumulation, and holders can't borrow against the policy. At renewal, the price of the policy may go up based on the insured person's health and age.
Whole life insurance is a policy that exists until the insured dies. It is typically more expensive at first, but the premium doesn't go up as it would for a term policy that was renewed — the premium stays the same until the insurance is paid out. Whole life insurance does allow for cash accumulation, meaning the amount paid in premiums can be borrowed back during the life of the policy. This type of policy remains in effect until death, regardless of age or changes in health status.