An umbrella term for a variety of plans that combine a death benefit similar to a term life insurance plan with tax-sheltered savings arrangements. Permanent life policies, as their name implies, are meant to be held and paid into for the duration of the insured's life. Because of this, there are significant fees associated with setting up the policy. Despite these fees, the tax advantages can make permanent life a valuable investment over a long period of time. also called cash value insurance.