is the Cash Value of a life Insurance Policy?
One important feature of permanent
life insurance, which is not found in most term
life insurance policies, is a "cash value."
When your premium payments are more than the cost of insurance, the excess
goes into a cash value account and draws interest. It is the "savings"
portion of a life policy.
The actual amount depends on many factors, including:
Your policy should have a table of cash values. If it doesn't, contact your
- The policy's face amount.
- How long you've owned the policy.
- Length of the premium payment period.
- Whether you have any outstanding policy loans.
Having cash value offers you some options:
- You can cancel the policy and receive the cash value as a lump sum:
the surrender cash value.
- If you need to stop paying premiums, you can use it to continue your
current policy for a specific time.
- You can withdraw part of the cash value in the form of a policy loan.
Surrender Cash Value
Cancelling a life insurance policy is called surrendering it. Surrendering
the entire value, with termination of all insurance benefits, is often called
Surrender cash value is the amount of cash that is due to the policy owner
who surrenders a life insurance policy. It is a refund.
Surrender charges may be deducted if your life insurance policy or annuity
is cashed out. The amount of the surrender charges vary widely among insurance
companies and may change over the life of the policy.
Life Insurance Policy Loans
Once a policy builds cash value you can use it to get a policy loan.
The loan can be for any amount up to the policy's cash value.
A policy loan has some advantages over a commercial loan: the loan is
easier to get and there is no schedule for repayment. The insurance company
will not check your credit; it will grant the loan based only on your
policy's cash value. You can repay a policy loan at any time, in part
or in full.
Of course, if you die before the loan is repaid, the amount of the unpaid
loan (plus interest) is subtracted from the death benefit.
Tip: Some life insurance policyholders have fallen victim to a practice
called "twisting" or "churning." Churning occurs when your coverage is
changed only to benefit the seller while you suffer a loss in the process.
Churning often happens when people with cash-value policies are persuaded
to convert their coverage to another policy, often one with a promise
of better benefits. The problem is that the cash value of the original
policy is raided in order to pay for the new policy. Luckless consumers
may not realize until years later that the "higher" benefit policy is
actually worth only a fraction of the value of the original policy.
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Stephen Jarvis is licensed to sell life insurance and health insurance in the following states:
California License #0C94325, Florida License #D072714
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