Universal Life Insurance

What is Universal Life Insurance?

Universal life is similar in some ways to, and was developed from whole life insurance. The potential advantage of the universal life policy is in its flexibility and the potential for greater cash value growth if the interest rates offered outperform the insurerís general account (that whole life policy cash value growth is based on)

Universal life is more flexible than whole life in two primary ways: the death benefit and usually the premium payment are flexible. The death benefit can be increased (subject to insurability) and decreased without surrendering the policy or getting a new one as would be required with whole life. Also a range of premium payments can be made to the policy, from a minimum amount to cover various guarantees the policy may offer to the maximum amount allowed by IRS rules

The primary difference is that the universal life policy shifts some of the risk for maintaining the death benefit to the insured. In a whole life policy, as long as every premium payment is made, the death benefit is guaranteed to be paid if the insured dies. In a UL the policy will lapse (the death benefit will no longer be in force) if the cash value or premium payments are not enough to cover the cost of insurance. To make their policies more attractive insurers often add guarantees, where if certain premium payments are made for a given period, the policy will remain in force even if the cash value drops to zero



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