Borrowing against life insurance is a financial strategy that allows policyholders to access funds in times of need. This approach is only applicable to permanent life insurance policies, such as whole life and universal life insurance policies, which build cash value over time. However, while it can be a quick and easy way to get cash in hand, there are several specifics to know before borrowing.
Understanding Life Insurance Policies
Whole Life and Universal Life Insurance Policies
Both whole life and universal life insurance policies are more expensive than term life insurance, but they do not have a pre-determined expiration date. If sufficient premiums are paid, the policy is in force for the lifetime of the insured. Money paid into the policy that exceeds the cost of insurance builds in a cash value account that’s part of the policy. The purpose of the cash value is to offset the rising cost of insurance as you age, allowing premiums to remain level throughout life and not rise to unaffordable amounts in your later years.
Term Life Insurance
Term life insurance, a cheaper and more suitable option for many people, does not have a cash value. It is designed to last for a limited period of time, which is generally anywhere from one to 30 years. However, in some instances, a term life policy can be converted to a permanent policy in which cash value can build.
Borrowing Against Your Life Insurance Policy
How It Works
Unlike a bank loan or credit card, policy loans do not affect your credit, and there is no approval process or credit check since you are essentially borrowing from yourself. When borrowing on your policy, no explanation is required about how you plan to use the money, so it can be used for anything from bills to vacation expenses to a financial emergency.
Pros and Cons
- Access to funds: If you need money quickly, borrowing from your life insurance is one way to get it without going through a lengthy loan application process.
- Low-interest rates: When compared to traditional loans or credit cards, borrowing from your life insurance can be cheaper since the interest rate charged on this type of loan is generally lower.
- No credit check required: Since you are essentially borrowing from yourself, there are no strict underwriting requirements or intrusive background checks needed.
- Decreases death benefit payout: When you borrow against your policy’s cash value, that amount will reduce what would otherwise have been passed on as part of a beneficiary payout should something happen to you.
- Long-term effects on accumulation potential: Interest charges accrued if the borrowed sum isn’t repaid promptly can cause long-term damage – depending on how much was taken out for longer periods. They could eat into accumulated values harshly reducing later disbursements which grow substantially year-on-year thanks largely due to compound interest!
- Risky late payments lead to policy lapse: Since life insurance loans don’t typically require you to make payments, it can be tempting to skip them. However, missed payments and even prolonged absence from making any repayments could cause the policy to lapse entirely.
Paying Back the Loan
Even with low interest rates and a flexible payback schedule, it’s important that you pay the loan back in a timely manner—on top of your regular premium payments. If unpaid, interest is added to the balance and accrues, putting your loan at risk of exceeding the policy’s cash value and causing your policy to lapse. If that happens, it’s likely you’ll owe taxes on the amount you borrowed.
Alternatives to Borrowing Against Your Life Insurance Policy
There are other ways you can access cash-in-hand without resorting to borrowing against your life insurance policy:
- Personal Loans – wherein a lump sum amount borrowed from an institution
- Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC) – Opening line loans against home value after meeting certain criteria
- Auto Refinancing – Getting better rates by refinancing auto loans.
Borrowing money from one’s own life-insurance-related savings plan isn’t something everyone knows about but should consider before opting for different forms of debt obligations out there, especially when emergency situations arise with immediate financial requirements imminent.
Always look at alternatives like those listed above before deciding what option is best suited for providing financing options when unexpected financial difficulties occur.
In summary, borrowing against one’s own policies primarily serves as quick cash access or solution in crunch times but has drawbacks that need cautious consideration weighed carefully beforehand due to long-term consequences.
Can I borrow against my life insurance policy?
Yes, in most cases, you can borrow against your life insurance policy. This type of loan is known as a “policy loan” and allows the policyholder to borrow funds from the cash value of their permanent life insurance policies. However, it’s important to note that not all types of life insurance policies offer this option.
How much can I borrow against my life insurance policy?
The amount you can borrow typically depends on the cash surrender value or cash accumulation account balance of your permanent life insurance policy along with any outstanding loans and interest due on them. The maximum amount you are allowed to borrow is also subject to restrictions set by the insurer.
What happens if I don’t pay back the loan on my life insurance policy?
If you don’t pay back your loan or interest accrued within a specified time frame (which is usually outlined by your insurer), then the outstanding balance will be deducted from your death benefit when you pass away. This means that if there isn’t enough money left over after repaying the loan and any associated fees, then they could reduce (or even eliminate) how much money goes to your beneficiaries upon death.