Universal life insurance is a type of life insurance that combines a death benefit with a savings component. You pay your premiums to the insurance company, and some of this goes to pay for a death benefit, the rest goes into an account that builds value. This is very similar to whole life insurance, except it provides more flexibility in premiums and death benefit. Both can be adjusted.
A universal life policy shifts some of the risk for maintaining the death benefit to the policy owner since the policy will lapse when the cash values are no longer sufficient to cover the cost of insurance and policy administrative expense.