Indexed universal life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance that offers different benefits to policyholders. Here is what you need to know!
Traditionally, life insurance has been one of those assets someone might hold but hope they never have to use. Often crafted to protect from the worst-case scenario, it’s most known for the death benefit it can offer heirs in the event of untimely death, providing a payout that has the potential to ease both financial and emotional tension. Modern life insurance options, however, can come with different features depending on the type of policy you purchase. Because September is Life Insurance Awareness Month, we thought it would be the perfect time to go over one of those options: indexed universal life (IUL) insurance.
NOTE: When reading this information, it’s important to remember that life insurance may require medical underwriting and sometimes policies can be denied. In general, the younger and healthier you are, the lower the cost of insurance.
- The Classic Death Benefit
The classic benefit of every different type of life insurance policy, including IUL, is the death benefit, which is typically paid out to the policy’s named beneficiaries tax- and probate-free in the event of the policyholder’s death. This can give your heirs a nice sum of money to cover things like burial and funeral costs, outstanding debt, and living expenses. It can be difficult to lose a provider, and a life insurance death benefit can ease some of that burden.
- Permanent Coverage
IUL policies offer permanence, which can make them a viable option for all ages. Unlike term life insurance, where the death benefit expires when the policy expires—typically in 20 or 30 years—an indexed universal life policy is a permanent policy that offers your beneficiaries a death benefit as long as premiums are paid and the policy is in force. While term policies can offer relatively affordable premiums for young, healthy policyholders, an IUL can lock in and guarantee coverage even if the policyholder develops a condition that would make them uninsurable later.
Increasingly popular , indexed life policies are sometimes purchased by healthy seniors as a way to transfer tax-advantaged wealth as part of their estate plan, or seniors may elect to purchase a policy which has long-term care benefits either built in or added as an optional rider to an IUL policy.
- Flexible Premiums
One of the key differentiators between whole life and universal life is flexible premiums. IUL policies allow policyholders to determine the monthly premiums they pay based on their desired death benefit and/or cash value in the policy. For instance, if your need for a high death benefit is not as great as it once was, you can pay lower premiums while still keeping your policy in force. Furthermore, the cash value portion of the policy can also be accessed to pay premiums, whether that’s by choice or by the policyholder’s inability to pay monthly premiums. On the other hand, policyholders with the funds to increase premiums to increase coverage can do so, potentially meaning a greater death benefit and a greater cash value.
- Accessible Cash Value Portion
Permanent life insurance policies like whole life and universal life offer a cash value portion that is funded by the policy’s premiums. Because the policy’s premiums are paid with post-tax dollars, that cash value is accessible to the policyholder for any reason as a tax-free loan, potentially making IUL a useful source of income for retirement, postsecondary education, a downpayment for a home, or any other major expense. Granted, borrowing from the cash value of a policy does accrue interest per policy terms; however, the cash value in an indexed universal policy also continues to be credited interest as if the borrowed amount is still there, again based on the contract terms. That gives the cash value a chance to keep pace with, or even outpace, the amount the policyholder owes in interest. Furthermore, if the policyholder uses the cash value as a tax-free source of retirement income and never pays it back, the borrowed amount plus interest is simply taken from the death benefit. It’s important to read and follow the contract terms carefully to make sure that the policy stays in force whenever the cash value is borrowed.
- Guarantees Provided by Carrier
In addition to being accessible as a source of tax-free income, the cash value in an indexed universal policy also comes with guaranteed principal protection and growth that correlates with a preselected market index. Those guarantees are made by the claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company, and they can allow you to participate in at least a portion of the market’s upside without subjecting you to its bottomless floor. This can make indexed universal life a helpful tool for those without the stomach or tolerance for market risk. Depending on investment, saving and lifestyle goals, it can also help to diversify a portfolio with a non-correlated asset class that still offers potential market upside.
- Long-Term Care Hybrid Policies
Nearly 70% of today’s 65-year-olds will need some type of long-term care (LTC), and 20% will need it for longer than five years . It’s also important to know that extended stays in long-term care facilities are not covered by Medicare, as they are considered lifestyle expenses as opposed to medical expenses. That means that today’s retirees may want to consider the possibility of needing LTC, as well as a way to cover the potentially exorbitant costs. Modern hybrid policies can give policyholders the option to combine their life coverage with long-term care coverage, eliminating the “use-it-or-lose-it” aspect of long-term care policies of old. If you need the benefit to pay for long-term care, it can be used to pay for those expenses, but if you don’t, it can be converted to a death benefit for your beneficiaries.
If you’d like to find out if an indexed universal life insurance policy might align with your unique financial circumstances and goals, we can help! Give us a call today to explore your options and build a plan for your future.
This article is not to be construed as financial advice. It is provided for informational purposes only and it should not be relied upon. It is recommended that you check with your financial advisor, tax professional and legal professionals when making any investment or any change to your retirement plan. Your investments, insurance and savings vehicles should match your risk tolerance and be suitable as well as what’s best for your personal financial situation.
Advisory products and services offered by Investment Adviser Representatives through Prime Capital Investment Advisors, LLC (“PCIA”), a federally registered investment adviser. PCIA: 6201 College Blvd., Suite #150, Overland Park, KS 66211. PCIA doing business as Prime Capital Wealth Management (“PCWM”) and Qualified Plan Advisors (“QPA”).