It may seem a bit creepy at first blush, but when you take out a life insurance policy, you're actually placing a bet that you will die early.
You won't be around to collect your winnings of course, but your beneficiaries will, and the sooner you die, the more valuable the payout will be to them.
On the flipside, the insurance company is betting you will live a long and prosperous life. The longer you live, the more premiums you will pay, and the more money the company will take in.
Those life insurance bets have actually been around since ancient Rome. But much more recently, a system of side bets has sprung up, known as "life settlements" or "viaticals."