When it comes to life insurance, the term “cash value” has a lovely ring to it, but you’ll need to undertake some rigorous analysis to determine whether a cash-value life insurance policy is worth the cost.
The term “cash value” refers to the savings component of permanent life insurance policies such as universal life and whole life insurance.
Cash value life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance that includes a cash value savings component that lasts the holder’s entire life. The policyholder can use the cash value for a variety of purposes, including obtaining loans or cash or paying policy premiums.
This is different from Term life insurance which provides temporary coverage for a set length of time, such as 10, 20, or 30 years, and has no cash value. A term life insurance policy cannot be borrowed against or cashed in for cash. Only if you die within the term will it pay out. That is why it is so inexpensive, particularly for young and healthy people.
What is cash value life insurance?
Cash value life insurance policies feature a death benefit as well as the ability to accrue value in a separate account under the policy. When you make a premium payment, the money is divided into three categories:
- Insurance cost: the amount needed to finance the policy’s death benefit.
- Fees and overhead: the running costs and fees of the insurance firm
- Cash value: the money accumulated in your policy account.
Because the cash value of a life insurance policy is different from the death benefit, your beneficiaries would not receive the cash value if you died. The insurer keeps any cash value remaining in your life insurance policy after you die. The cash value of a life insurance policy is the amount of money you would get if you opted to surrender your coverage or give up the policy to the insurer.
Although the increase in cash value is tax-deferred, compound interest must accumulate for a number of years before it increases appreciably. Furthermore, the majority of your premiums are eaten up by the cost of insurance and fees during the first three years of coverage, so cash value building is modest.
That is why, if you are in your forties or fifties, we normally do not recommend a cash value life insurance policy. The expense of your premiums is increasingly likely to outweigh any eventual advantage as you get older. Guaranteed universal life insurance provides lifelong coverage with little to no cash value component if you require a permanent life insurance policy to settle estate taxes or leave an inheritance.
How Cash Value Life Insurance Works
Since it covers the policyholder’s entire life, cash value insurance is permanent life insurance. Because of the cash value component, cash value life insurance has traditionally had higher rates than term life insurance. Most cash value life insurance policies demand a fixed-level premium payment, with a portion of the premium going toward the cost of insurance and the rest going into a cash value account.
The cash value of life insurance earns a relatively low rate interest, with the accumulated earnings tax-free. As a result, the cash value of life insurance will rise over time. Because the cumulative cash value offsets a portion of the insurer’s liability, the insurance company’s risk lowers as the cash value of life insurance grows.
What you can do with the cash
When selling permanent life insurance, insurance brokers stress the cash value as a major selling element. What you can do with the cash value of a life insurance policy is as follows:
- Make incremental withdrawals. If the money is not reimbursed, the withdrawals will lower the death benefit of the policy, which will be paid to the beneficiary after you die.
- Borrow based on the monetary value. You can borrow money for whatever you want. To keep the death benefit, you’ll have to return them with interest.
- Withdraw the entire cash value and return the policy. This will terminate your life insurance coverage, and you will have to pay a surrender fee to the insurance company in the early years.
- When the cash value reaches a certain level, use it to pay premiums.
The cash value develops differently depending on the type of permanent life insurance policy you purchase:
- A whole life insurance policy provides a guaranteed rate of return on cash value.
- The cash value increase of indexed universal life insurance is linked to a stock index, such as the S&P 500.
- The cash value of variable universal life is invested in various accounts of stocks, bonds, or mutual funds. This type of coverage has the highest potential profits, but comes with the danger of losing monetary value if the investments fail.
Types of cash value Life Insurance Policies
Cash value life insurance policies are often permanent, which means you get coverage for the rest of your life as long as you pay your payments. The following are some of the most frequent types of cash value life insurance policies:
Whole Life Insurance: The insurer determines the rate at which cash value accumulates. It is intended to grow to the size of the death benefit as the policy matures (typically, when you turn 100).
Variable Life Insurance: Cash value can be invested in particular aggregated portfolios supplied by the insurer, which are similar to mutual funds.
Universal Life Insurance: Based on market interest rates and the insurer’s performance.
Indexed Universal Life Insurance: Based upon performance of an index, such as the S&P 500.
There is no cash surrender value with term life insurance contracts. This implies that if you opt to surrender your coverage to the insurer, you will receive no compensation. However, it is also the reason that term life insurance is several times less expensive than cash value life insurance.
You’d only get money back from an insurer if you had a return of premium rider on your term life insurance policy. This rider increases the cost of your premiums but guarantees that you will receive a portion or the total of premiums paid if you live over the policy’s term.
The Pros and Cons of Cash Value Life Insurance
The cash value component provides policyholders with a living benefit from which they can withdraw funds. The net cash value of a life insurance policy is the amount left over after the insurance company deducts its fees and any expenses incurred during the policy’s ownership. There are various ways to obtain funds. Partial surrenders or withdrawals are permitted for most policies, although they may diminish the death benefit.
Cash value can also be utilized to pay for insurance premiums. If there is enough money, a policyholder can stop paying premiums out of pocket and have the cash value account cover the cost.
- Borrowing against the cash value is allowed
- Can take tax-free withdrawals from the cash value
- Life insurance that is permanent
- Out-of-pocket premiums that are more expensive
- Withdrawals lower the death benefit.
- Policy loans and interest are subtracted from the death benefit.
The Best Cash Value Life Insurance
Cash value life insurance policies are available in a variety of forms, and the ideal option for you may differ from that of your friends or neighbors. Here are our top picks and why we think they’re the best.
Is cash-value life insurance right for you?
Your decision to purchase a cash-value life insurance policy will be influenced by how much risk you are willing to take and how much flexibility you require. A whole life insurance is the most straightforward permanent policy because everything is fixed and guaranteed, including the yearly premium, death benefit, and cash value return.
Variable premiums and coverage amounts are available with universal life insurance. The various types of universal life insurance provide variable degrees of risk and the possibility for cash value rewards.
Cash-value life insurance is more complex than term life insurance. You’ll need the assistance of a reputable life insurance adviser to help you sort through your selections. It’s also a good idea to seek a second opinion from a fee-only financial counselor to see whether cash-value life insurance is suited for you in the first place.
Term life insurance is adequate for the majority of young families. Financial counselors do not recommend cash-value life insurance as an investment unless you have maxed your contributions to tax-advantaged retirement accounts like IRAs and 401(k)s, have prepared for emergencies and other pressing needs, and are willing to commit to a policy for the long term. Even so, it is advisable to approach these plans with caution and ensure that you understand what you are purchasing.
Is life insurance with a cash value worth it?
Financial counselors do not recommend cash-value life insurance as an investment unless you have maxed your contributions to tax-advantaged retirement accounts like IRAs and 401(k)s, have prepared for emergencies and other pressing needs, and are willing to commit to a policy for the long term.
Do you get both death and cash value?
Do heirs receive both the cash value and the death benefit? No, most of the time – the cash value can only be used while the policyholder is still alive. Even if you die, the cash value remains fully independent from the death benefit and cannot be accessed by your beneficiaries.
Is cash value the same as death benefit?
The cash value is distinct from the death benefit of the insurance. The death benefit, as opposed to the cash value, is the amount of money that your selected beneficiary will receive upon your death. You will receive the accruing cash value if you terminate your life insurance policy.
Can you withdraw cash value from whole life policy?
The cash value is distinct from the death benefit. While the cash value is a savings account that grows over time, the death benefit is the amount of money that your specified beneficiary will receive upon your death. If you terminate your life insurance coverage, you will receive the accrued cash value.