There are four main parties involved in an insurance policy: insurer, insured, policyowner, and designated beneficiary.
The insurer is the insurance company.
The insured is the person who must die in order for the death benefit to payout from the insurance company. Therefore, the insured is the person being covered, or protected, by the insurance policy. The insured can be the policyowner.
The policyowner, also known as the policyholder, is the person who pays off the insurance policy via the premium and can use the living benefits of the insurance policy.
The designated beneficiary is the person who receives the payout of the death benefit from the insurance company.