Term insurance is a type of life insurance policy that provides coverage for a certain period of time or a specified "term" of years. If the insured dies during the time period specified in the policy and the policy is active, or in force, a death benefit will be paid.
When you buy a term life policy, an insurance company promises that it will pay your beneficiaries a set amount if you die during the policy's term. In exchange, you pay a monthly premium to the company for the duration of that term.
If you outlive your term life insurance policy, the funds are forfeit. The premiums from individuals who don't die while their policies are in force ultimately support the generous payouts that insurance companies can pay to those who do.