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Investment-oriented whole life insurance policy that provides a return linked to an underlying portfolio of securities. The portfolio typically is a group of mutual funds established by the insurer as a separate account, with the policyholder given some investment discretion in choosing the mix of assets among, say, a common stock fund, a bond fund, and a money market fund. Variable life insurance offers fixed premiums and a minimum death benefit. The better the total return on the investment portfolio, the higher the death benefit or surrender value of the variable life policy.