Life Insurance Policies

There are various aspects to consider before getting a life insurance policy. One of them is a sustained doubt about the significance and need for life insurance. A life insurance policy is relevant for all individuals who are concerned about the financial future of their family in case of death.

Apart from the purely protectional needs, life insurance policies, like whole and variable life insurance, offer the opportunity for tax-free investment and reaping dividends, and they have a built-in cash value. Purchased with due discretion, it can be utilized as liquid cash to cater to the various needs of policyholders.

There are various types of life insurance policies customized to suit the different needs of various individuals. Depending on the number of dependants and kind of insurance needs, a suitable life insurance policy can be chosen after consultation with financial experts and advisors.

Whole life insurance and term life insurance are the two basic forms of insurance policies. With time, there have been different variations to suit the changing demands of people. A term life insurance policy is also called temporary or short-term life insurance. These are purely protection-oriented and provide death benefits only if the insured dies within the period specified in the policy. In case the insured lives past the specified duration, no money is given.

People with short-term insurance needs, like a young individual with dependents, a house loan or a car loan, favor this kind of insurance policy because they are cheap and affordable in comparison to whole life policies. In the initial years the premiums are very low; however, as the mortality risk of the insured increases with age the premium cost increases and at time becomes more than that of whole life insurance.

There are now two kinds of term life insurance, namely level term (decreasing premium) and annual renewable term (increasing premium) policies. The premiums of level term are initially higher than renewable term, but become lower in the later years. Whole life insurance has an ingrained cash value and guaranteed life protection features. The initial steep premiums of whole life insurance may exceed the actual cost of the insurance. This surplus, which is the cash value, is added to a separate account and can be used as a tax-free investment to reap dividends, and is also used to enable the insured to give a level premium latter on. There is a guarantee of getting the death benefit on the maturity of the policy or death of the insured, apart from cash value surrendered in case of cancellation.

Return of premium is popular because it combines the features of whole and term policies. It costs double the amount of a term policy. The policy is made for a set time, but full value is given on death within that period or in case the policy matures. Universal, variable and universal variables are different variations of whole life insurance policies. A universal life insurance policy offers the flexibility to the insured to choose the kind of premium payment, the death benefits and the coverage amount.

Variable life insurance policies enable the insurance buyer to invest the cash value in direct investment for a greater potential return. A universal variable insurance policy integrates the flexibility factor of a universal policy and the investment option of a variable policy. Single purchase life insurance enables a buyer to buy the policy and own it through a one-time premium payment. A survivorship or second-to-die insurance policy is a joint form of life insurance policy which is devised to serve the specific purpose of certain individuals. Apart from these, there are also endowment life insurance policies. Endowment is with profit kind or unit-liked kind. On maturity of the policy or on the death of the insured the value of the policy or the amount insured, whichever is more, is given back.

Life insurance policies differ from company to company, and hence the various parameters have to be analyzed meticulously with the help of experts and financial advisors to get the best deal.

Types Of Life Insurance Policies – Which Is Right For You?

Term Life by definition is a life insurance policy which provides a stated benefit upon the holder’s death, provided that the death occurs within a certain specified time period. However, the policy does not provide any returns beyond the stated benefit, unlike an insurance policy which allows investors to share in returns from the insurance company’s investment portfolio.

Annually renewable term life.

Historically, a term life rate increased each year as the risk of death became greater. While unpopular, this type of life policy is still available and is commonly referred to as annually renewable term life (ART).

Guaranteed level term life.

Many companies now also offer level term life. This type of insurance policy has premiums that are designed to remain level for a period of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 or even 30 years. Level term life policies have become extremely popular because they are very inexpensive and can provide relatively long term coverage. But, be careful! Most level term life insurance policies contain a guarantee of level premiums. However some policies don’t provide such guarantees. Without a guarantee, the insurance company can surprise you by raising your life insurance rate, even during the time in which you expected your premiums to remain level. Needless to say, it is important to make sure that you understand the terms of any life insurance policy you are considering.
Return of premium term life insurance

Return of premium term insurance (ROP) is a relatively new type of insurance policy that offers a guaranteed refund of the life insurance premiums at the end of the term period assuming the insured is still living. This type of term life insurance policy is a bit more expensive than regular term life insurance, but the premiums are designed to remain level. These returns of premium term life insurance policies are available in 15, 20, or 30-year term versions. Consumer interest in these plans has continued to grow each year, as they are often significantly less expensive than permanent types of life insurance, yet, like many permanent plans, they still may offer cash surrender values if the insured doesn’t die.

Types of Permanent Life Insurance Policies

A permanent life insurance policy by definition is a policy that provides life insurance coverage throughout the insured’s lifetime ñ the policy never ends as long as the premiums are paid. In addition, a permanent life insurance policy provides a savings element that builds cash value.
Universal Life

Life insurance which combines the low-cost protection of term life with a savings component that is invested in a tax-deferred account, the cash value of which may be available for a loan to the policyholder. Universal life was created to provide more flexibility than whole life by allowing the holder to shift money between the insurance and savings components of the policy. Additionally, the inner workings of the investment process are openly displayed to the holder, whereas details of whole life investments tend to be quite scarce. Premiums, which are variable, are broken down by the insurance company into insurance and savings. Therefore, the holder can adjust the proportions of the policy based on external conditions. If the savings are earning a poor return, they can be used to pay the premiums instead of injecting more money. If the holder remains insurable, more of the premium can be applied to insurance, increasing the death benefit. Unlike with whole life, the cash value investments grow at a variable rate that is adjusted monthly. There is usually a minimum rate of return. These changes to the interest scheme allow the holder to take advantage of rising interest rates. The danger is that falling interest rates may cause premiums to increase and even cause the policy to lapse if interest can no longer pay a portion of the insurance costs.

To age 100 level guaranteed life insurance

This type of life policy offers a guaranteed level premium to age 100, along with a guaranteed level death benefit to age 100. Most often, this is accomplished within a Universal Life policy, with the addition of a feature commonly known as a “no-lapse rider”. Some, but not all, of these plans also include an “extension of maturity” feature, which provides that if the insured lives to age 100, having paid the “no-lapse” premiums each year, the full face amount of coverage will continue on a guaranteed basis at no charge thereafter.

Survivorship or 2nd-to-die life insurance

A survivorship life policy, also called 2nd-to-die life, is a type of coverage that is generally offered either as universal or whole life and pays a death benefit at the later death of two insured individuals, usually a husband and wife. It has become extremely popular with wealthy individuals since the mid-1980’s as a method of discounting their inevitable future estate tax liabilities which can, in effect, confiscate an amount to over half of a family’s entire net worth!

Congress instituted an unlimited marital deduction in 1981. As a result, most individuals arrange their affairs in a manner such that they delay the payment of any estate taxes until the second insured’s death. A “2nd-to-die” life policy allows the insurance company to delay the payment of the death benefit until the second insured’s death, thereby creating the necessary dollars to pay the taxes exactly when they are needed! This coverage is widely used because it is generally much less expensive than individual permanent life coverage on either spouse.

Variable Universal Life

A form of whole life which combines some features of universal life, such as premium and death benefit flexibility, with some features of variable life, such as more investment choices. Variable universal life adds to the flexibility of universal life by allowing the holder to choose among investment vehicles for the savings portion of the account. The differences between this arrangement and investing individually are the tax advantages and fees that accompany the insurance policy.

Whole Life

Insurance which provides coverage for an individual’s whole life, rather than a specified term. A savings component, called cash value or loan value, builds over time and can be used for wealth accumulation. Whole life is the most basic form of cash value insurance. The insurance company essentially makes all of the decisions regarding the policy. Regular premiums both pay insurance costs and cause equity to accrue in a savings account. A fixed death benefit is paid to the beneficiary along with the balance of the savings account. Premiums are fixed throughout the life of the policy even though the breakdown between insurance and savings swings toward the insurance over time. Management fees also eat up a portion of the premiums. The insurance company will invest money primarily in fixed-income securities, meaning that the savings investment will be subject to interest rate and inflation risk.

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How Some Life Insurance Policies Fail and Leave Grieving Families to Struggle Financially

Many people own life insurance, but let’s face it. It’s probably not a purchase that most people brag about to their friends like they might if they had just purchased a new Corvette, but they made the purchase anyway because they love their families and want their family to carry on living their current lifestyle in the event of the primary breadwinner’s untimely death. While this article doesn’t apply to people who own term insurance, those who bought permanent life insurance, which is life insurance with an additional savings component, will find this information very important.

To understand the problem, I will first give you a brief primer on life insurance, and then explain how something that seems like a sure bet can go so wrong. Life insurance can be separated in to two basic types, term and permanent life insurance. With term insurance a person pays a certain amount of money, called a premium, for a period of time, from one year up to 30 years. During the specified period of time, as long as the insured person is paying the premium, the insurance company is obligated to pay a certain amount of money, called a death benefit, to the insured person’s beneficiary in the event the insured person dies during that time period. If the person does not die in that time period the insurance company keeps the money as well as the earnings on that money. While there are different types of term insurance nowadays, including “return of premium” term which returns the insureds premium dollars at the end of the term(but not the earnings on the money), the general jist of term insurance is that a person is covered during a certain period of time. If they want coverage beyond that time period they have to buy another policy. Term insurance is really not the focus of this article so if that’s what you have you can stop reading now if you wish, and rest assured that as long as you pay the premium, and the insurance company remains financially solvent, your family will be paid in the event of your untimely death.

The other type insurance is called permanent insurance. Permanent insurance is insurance that has a death benefit to it, similar to term, but also contains a savings “sidecar”, this gives the policy a value called cash value. The premiums are paid on the policy, a portion is pulled to pay for the insurance and the remainder goes into the savings sidecar. There are three primary types of permanent insurance that vary depending on what is done with the savings component. The first type of permanent insurance is Whole Life Insurance. The savings component of Whole Life Insurance is invested in the general fund of the insurance company where it earns interest. The amount of interest apportioned to a particular individual is depended on how much of the money in the general fund belongs to that individual. Some policies if they are are “participating” policies also earn dividends. Generally speaking whole life policies are not a lapse danger as the amounts that it earns are guaranteed by the insurance company. As long as the insurance company remains solvent it will pay out a death benefit. The only problems a person who owns a Whole Life policy typically runs into is overpaying for insurance, and the death benefit not keeping pace with inflation.

The second type of permanent insurance is called Universal Life Insurance. With Universal Life Insurance the savings sidecar is a separate account, as opposed to Whole Life where the savings sidecar is invested into the general fund of the insurance company. Universal Life Insurance’s main advantage is it’s flexibility. For example, if you are a landscaper in the northeastern part of the country and basically have your winter months off, you could buy a Universal Life policy, fund it heavily during the spring, summer, and fall when you’re raking in the big bucks, and then not pay anything during the winter months. As long as there is a certain amount of money in the savings sidecar (based on insurance company formulas), nothing needs to be done. Also, if you need additional insurance because you just had a child, you don’t need to buy another policy. As long as you are insurable you can increase the death benefit on your current Universal Life Insurance policy and pay the extra premium. The money in the savings sidecar of a Universal Life Insurance policy is typically invested in ten year bonds. The Universal Life policy has a guaranteed interest rate to it, as well as a current rate. The money in the sidecar typically earns the slightly higher current rate, but the policy owner is only guranateed the guaranteed amount. Keep this last thought in your mind because after I describe Variable Insurance in the next paragraph, I’m going to tie these two together in the following paragraph and that final concept is the thing that’s going wrong

The final type of permanent life insurance is Variable Life Insurance. It can be either straight Variable Life Insurance, or Variable Universal Life Insurance, which combines the versatility of Universal with Variable Life Insurance. Variable Insurance came about due to the awesome bull market in stocks that ran basically uninterrupted from 1982 through 2000. People wanted to invest as much as possible in the stock market and the thought of investing money in an insurance policy that invested in lower yielding bonds was quite distasteful to many. So the Variable Insurance Policy was built. With Variable Life the savings sidecar can be invested in insurance “sub-accounts” which are basically mutual funds within a Variable Life, or Variable Annuity. In fact, many sub-accounts exactly mirror a particular mutual fund, some mutual fund managers manage both their respective fund as well as its sub-account “sister.” So with the Variable Life policy buying insurance no longer meant leaving the high flying stock market, you could have the best of both worlds by protecting your family AND investing in the stock market. As long as the savings in the sidecar was at an adequate level things were fine. Again, remember this last line because I’m about to show you how the whole thing goes to pot.

In the heyday of Universal Life Insurance and Variable Life Insurance interest rates were high and so was the stock market, and the insurance industry had two products that were custom designed to take advantage of the times. The problem came about when the agents designing these policies for the public assumed that the high interest rates and high flying stock market would never end. You see, whenever these products are sold, several assumptions have to be made outside of the guaranteed aspect of the policies which is typically about 3-5%, depending on the insurance company. The current values are paid out based on the prevailing rates or returns of the time, and that’s exactly how the policies were designed. I can still remember when I began in the insurance industry back in 1994, when the experienced agents in my office were were writing Universal Life with a hypothetical 10-15% interest rate. Variable Universal would be written anywhere between 10-20%. Happy days were here to stay. Or were they? Unfortunately, those interest rates started heading south about the mid-1990s, and as we all know, except for a couple of years, the stock market didn’t do so swell after the 2000 tech bubble, maybe two or three “up” years out of eight and possibly nine. This is a real problem because many families’ futures were riding on the assumptions that were made in these policies. Many policyowners were told to pay during their working years and then to quit when they retired and the policy would be fine, the returns earned on the savings sidecar would keep the policy in force. There are countless Universal and Variable Life policies in bank and corporate trust accounts, as well as in dresser drawers and fire proof safes that were bought and assumed that as long as the premiums were paid, things were good to go. Many of these policies are sick or dying as we speak. Some people, or trustees will get a notice letting them know that they need to add more money or the policy will lapse, of course by this time “red line” has already been reached. The people who get this notice may even ignore it because hey, the agent said that all would be well, “pay for 20 years and the family will be taken care of when I meet my maker.” So the policy will lapse and nobody will know it till it comes time for the family to collect their money, only to find out that they will meet the same fate as Old Mother Hubbard’s Dog. If anybody reading this can picture the litigation attorneys licking their chops, waiting to let insurance agents and trustees have it with both barrels for negligence, don’t worry that onslaught has already begun. But if you have one of these policies, don’t count on the 50/50 prospect of winning a court case, do something about it!

One of the first things I do when I get a new client that has an existing permanent life insurance policy is do an “audit” of that policy. Just like the IRS does an audit to find out where the money went, I do an audit to find out where the premiums went. The way this is done is by ordering what is called an “In Force Ledger” on the policy from the insurance company. The In Force Ledger will show the status of the policy now under current conditions, as well as several other scenarios paying more or less money. It will also show if the policy is lapsed or will lapse in the future. By doing this audit the policyholder may get something that they didn’t have before, OPTIONS!

For example, take a 50 year old policyowner, who is also the insured on the policy, and the In Force Ledger showed that the policy, under current condtions is going to lapse when the policyowner is 63 assuming premium payments were going to be kept the same, and stock market conditions were going to stay the same (this was in early 2007 and this policy was a Variable Universal Life, it probably would not have lasted till 63, given what has happened in the stock market.) Since the policyowner is the family breadwinner, they have a 16 year old daughter, and their savings could not sustain the wife and daughter in the event of an early death of the breadwinner, whether or not to keep the life insurance is not even a question, life insurance is absolutely needed in this case. Now the next question is, does he keep on paying on a policy that is going to lapse or write a new one? For that I go to some business associates at an insurance brokerage I work with, and find out how we can get a new policy without a huge increase in premium, in some cases the it is possible to get an increase in death benefit and a decrease in premium. How can this be done since the policyholder is older than when the policy is written? Easy. With the advances in medicine between 1980 and 2000 (the years the mortality tables used were written), people are living longer, conditions that used to cause death such as cancer, people are surviving and even live normal lives after the cancer is eliminated. It used to be you either smoked or you didn’t. Now allowances are made for heavy smokers, social smokers, snuff users, cigar smokers etc. One company will even allow mild cannabis use. So in some cases your policy may not be lapsing, but a person may be overpaying even though they are older. Maybe they smoked socially then, but quit 5 years ago, but their policy still has them listed as a smoker paying the same premium as someone that smoked like a chimney. What happens if the solution that makes the most sense is a new policy? We do what is called a 1035 Exchange into a new policy, that allows the cash value of the current policy to be transferred to the new one without being taxed. What if the insured doesn’t want another life insurance policy but wants to get out of the one they are currently in and not pay taxes? Then we do a 1035 Exchange to an annuity, either variable or fixed. I’m currently using a no-load annuity that works great and the expenses are low. Is a 1035 Exchange right in every situation? Absolutely NOT! Many things must be explored before making the exchange, especially on a policy written before 1988 when the tax law on insurance policies changed for the worse, in the above example it proved to be the correct move, but in the end it’s up to the policyowner and family as to what direction to go.

In conclusion, if you have a permanent life insurance policy that is 5 years old or older, make sure you have it audited. The cost (nothing), versus the benefit (a family that doesn’t have financial worries in their time of grief) makes this decision a no-brainer.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/2045527

How Does a Whole Life Insurance Policy Work?

How exactly does a whole life insurance policy work? Whole life policies are popular with some select groups of people but they are a little bit more complex than their plain vanilla easy to understand term life insurance counterparts.

The business of insurance has to be one of the most underrated services offered in the United States nowadays. Not many people think having life insurance is important and because of this we see that the industry is not as successful as the auto and homeowners insurance business. It is important to know however, that death comes at any age; and if a person wants to protect their family or other people after their death it is imperative for them to purchase a life insurance policy.

There are two basic types of life insurance in the United States that work in completely different ways and because of this have different premiums. One of these types of insurances is one that is called a temporary policy. This policy covers a policyholder for about 5 to 30 years and their premiums are most of the time stagnant. On the other hand we have the permanent policy in which members are covered for life as long as they pay all their premiums. Part of your premium will go toward a little saving portion of the policy that will accumulate over time and the other portion of the premium goes towards the insurance cost of the death benefit.

Whole life insurance is one of the three types of insurance polices that you can obtain if you want a permanent life insurance policy. This means that whole life will cover you for life and that your cash value (saving portion) will get higher as time goes by. However, whole life is different in that your cash value is tax deferred until the beneficiary withdraws it and you can also borrow against it.

A person should consider whole life insurance when the need for coverage is lifelong. Whole life may be used as part of your estate planning because it accrues money after a person pays the premiums, as mentioned before. Because premiums for this type of policy are much higher than those of temporary policies, a person must know that this is what they want after all. Whole life is a good choice if you want to make sure that your family or dependents have a good life after your death, and that the transition from the death of a person close to their lives is a close one.

Within the whole life realm, there are six different kinds that a person can choose from.

1. Non-Participating Whole Life Insurance: This type of whole life policy has a leveled premium and a face amount through the entire policyholder’s life. Since the policy has fixed costs the premiums will not be necessary high, but it will no pay you any dividends after the policyholder dies.

2. Participating Whole Life Insurance: This type is much different from the first type mentioned. One of its differences is that this one does pay dividends and because of this premiums can be said to be a little bit more expensive. These dividends can be used to reduce your premium payments because they can be paid in cash, they can be left to accumulate at a specified rate of interest or they can be used to purchase additional insurance which in turn will increase the value in cash that a beneficiary will receive after a policyholder’s death.

3. Level Premium Whole Life Insurance: This kind of insurance is one that has the same premiums with no significant drop or rise in the money paid monthly through the entire life of the policy. At first the premiums will be enough to cover the services given and a little portion of it can be put away to cover the premiums that will come in later years when the cost of insurance in the market rises. The insurer can also pay extra premiums that will go toward the cash value part of the policy one the policyholder dies.

4. Limited Payment Whole Life Insurance: This is the type of policy that will allow you to only pay premiums over a specified period of time. This means that if you only want to pay premiums for about twenty to thirty years or up until age 65 or 85; this is the type of policy that you want. Because premium payments are going to be paid over a specified period of time, your premium payments will be significantly higher, but after you get done with them you will be covered for life.

5. Single Premium Whole Life Insurance: This type of policy is one that is very common for people that select the whole life insurance type. This is a limited policy with a single relatively large premium due at issue. Due to the fact that the owner of the policy will pay the single premium payments when the policy is first signed, the life insurance policy will immediately have cash and loan value! This type of whole term life insurance is mostly an investment oriented type than some of the others.

6. Indeterminate Premium Whole Life Insurance: This is the easiest type of whole life policy to understand and also one of the most common ones in the life market. With this insurance the company will give you a premium based on how the company is doing economically and on expense costs. This means that while one year the premiums can be slightly lower than expected, in the next the company can charge more if they are not doing up to expectations. It is also good to note that there is a maximum guaranteed premium when you first sign your policy and that the life insurance company can never charge above the premium stated

While the cost of whole life coverage is substantially higher than a term life policy with the same death benefit it is important to keep in mind that the reason for the difference in price is that the death benefit for the whole life policy will almost certainly be paid out – after all everyone dies sometime! With the term policy of course the insurance company is counting on not paying the death benefit out on over 90% of the policies it issues.

The issue of life insurance should not be taken lightly if one has a family or dependents. While some people in the United States are fed up paying all the different kinds of insurances and they figure that they don’t need to pay extra for life insurance when they are young, it is important to understand that life insurance can be a life saver after a family member, husband or parent dies.

Whole life insurance covers you for life and it will allow a beneficiary to continue life only having to cope with the issue of death and not having to worry about the economic hits that come with it. Life insurance policies are a must for anyone that has someone that relies on them for support and it’s time for all responsible Americans to realize that.