Bascially there are two types of life insurance; term coverage and whole life. Every insurance plan is some variation of these two types.
Term Insurance generally has no equity or cash value built up in the policy. It is called term insurance because it has an expiry date. Term Insurance is useful for covering an insurance need that is temporary in nature. This insurance would be good to insure parents who require coverage to replace income if one parent dies while they have dependent children. Mortgage insurance is another example of a need which can be covered by term insurance. Sometimes term insurance can be changed into permanent or whole life coverage.
Whole life insurance has no expiry date and lasts until needed. It often has an equity or cash value which builds up with the policy. Frequently you don't have to continue paying for the insurance; after a number of years, the cash value and dividends in the policy will be sufficient to cover the premium. Whole life insurance is appropriate for covering needs such as final expenses, income taxes on registered account balances and income replacement for retirement incomes that reduce at a first death.
It is very beneficial to consult with a knowledgeable Certified Financial Planner who has access to a number of insurance companies. You can then be assured that you have selected the most appropriate and best priced product for your needs.