Best Way to Access Cash with Whole Life Insurance Loans in 2024

Photo of author
Written By kevin

A financial strategist with a knack for demystifying taxes and insurance, Kevin distills complex concepts into actionable advice.

Whole life insurance policies have long been valued for providing lifetime coverage along with the ability to build up a cash value fund over time. As the cash value grows in the policy, policyholders have the option to access those funds through policy loans while keeping their coverage intact. In 2024, using policy loans to tap into accumulated cash remains one of the most flexible and cost-effective methods for policyholders to obtain funding.

Policy loans allow access to cash value at typically lower interest rates than other financing options, with no strict repayment schedule. Borrowers simply need to keep up with interest payments to avoid reducing the policy’s death benefit or risking potential lapse of coverage. With proper management, loans against cash value can supplement retirement income, help pay for college, provide funds for investing, and more without surrendering the policy.

How Whole Life Insurance Policy Loans Work

Whole life insurance combines a death benefit with a savings or investment feature known as cash value. Over the life of the policy, premium payments above the cost of insurance accrue within a cash value account. This account earns interest, allowing the cash value to grow on a tax-deferred basis over time.

Policyholders have the option to take out loans against the accumulated cash value as a source of funding. The insurance company essentially uses the cash value as collateral for these loans, allowing policy owners to access those funds through borrowing.

Some key points on how policy loans function:

  • Loans carry an interest rate based on the policy and current market rates. In 2024, rates often range from 5-8%, generally lower than most commercial loans.
  • No fixed repayment schedule exists on policy loans. As long as interest payments are made, the loan can remain outstanding for as long as needed.
  • If interest payments are not made, the interest will accrue and be added to loan balance. At some point, unpaid loans could grow to equal the cash value and put the policy at risk of lapsing if action is not taken.
  • If the policyholder dies with an outstanding loan balance, the death benefit payout will be reduced by the amount owed. So loans do decrease the net death benefit received by beneficiaries if still unpaid.

In essence, policyholders use the cash value in their policy as collateral to borrow against, allowing flexible access to those funds without having to cancel coverage. But loans must be managed appropriately by making interest payments and repaying principal when possible.

Strategies for Using Policy Loans

There are a variety of strategic reasons why borrowing against cash value in 2024 can benefit policyholders:

Supplement Retirement Income

Many use policy loans as a source of supplemental retirement income since no repayment is due until death. This allows policyholders to access extra cash flow while continuing insurance protection. Interest payments are still required to avoid policy lapse.

Pay for College Tuition

College tuition has become increasingly expensive. Rather than liquidate investments or take out commercial loans, policy loans present a strategic option to pay tuition bills tax-free.

Finance a Down Payment on a Home

First-time homebuyers, in particular, struggle with coming up with enough cash on hand for a down payment. Policy loans can help cover this major one-time cost.

Meet Short-Term Cash Flow Needs

Everyone encounters occasional unplanned expenses or financial needs. Policy loans allow a strategic cash infusion to cover emergency costs or short-term needs.

Invest in Other Opportunities

Some policyholders take out loans against cash value to invest in other assets or business opportunities. The key is having a plan to repay interest and principal.

In many of these situations, policy loans provide tax-free access to funds without liquidating other assets or investments. This allows policyholders to strategically leverage cash value for major one-time expenses while maintaining their coverage.

Best Practices When Taking Out a Loan

When taking out a loan against cash value, it is wise to follow certain best practices:

  • Verify current cash value – Confirm the available cash value with the insurance company before taking out a loan. This ensures sufficient funds exist.
  • Consult with insurance agent – Agents can explain the loan terms, interest rates, potential impacts, and process for obtaining funds. This information empowers wise decision making.
  • Have a repayment plan – Treat policy loans similar to commercial loans. Have a plan to repay interest and principal to prevent unwanted policy lapse.
  • Make interest payments – Interest owed on outstanding loan balances should be paid annually or semi-annually. This prevents the interest from accruing and being added to the loan.
  • Pay down principal when possible – When excess funds allow, make payments against the principal loan balance. This will minimize interest costs over time.

Carefully managing policy loans includes both keeping current on interest payments as well as repaying some or all of the principal over time. This keeps policy costs and benefits on track.

Pros and Cons of Policy Loans

Policy loans offer many advantages but also come with some drawbacks to consider:


  • Easy access to funds – Obtaining loan is often just a form and funds are available within days. Much easier than commercial loans.
  • Low interest rates – Interest charged on policy loans tends to be very reasonable, often lower than other financing options.
  • Flexible repayment terms – No fixed monthly payment schedule makes these loans more manageable than borrowing elsewhere.


  • Risk of reduced death benefit – If interest and principal payments cease, loans could eventually equal cash value and impact death payout.
  • Potential policy lapse – Without required payments, policy could terminate due to insufficient funds to cover costs.
  • Owed taxes if not repaid – IRS considers outstanding loan balance at death above cost basis as taxable income.

So while policy loans provide convenient access to cash value funds, they must be carefully managed with a long-term perspective. Allowing loans to grow out of control could greatly reduce policy benefits down the road.

Alternatives to Policy Loans

Beyond taking out loans against cash value, policyholders also have a few other options for accessing those funds that may make sense in certain situations:


Policy owners can take withdrawals directly from accumulated cash value. Unlike loans, withdrawals permanently reduce the death benefit, may trigger surrender charges, and could result in tax liability if above cost basis.


Policyholders also have the option to fully surrender a whole life insurance policy and receive the total cash value amount. This cancels coverage and terminates the policy. Taxes could apply on cash received above premiums paid.

1035 Exchange

Exchanging an existing whole life or universal life policy for a new policy can allow accessing cash value while maintaining coverage. But new policy must be in place first before old policy terminates.

Each approach has pros and cons to weigh based on the policyholder’s situation and goals. Loans often provide the best option for accessing funds without surrendering valuable coverage.


As cash value policies continue maturing in 2024, policy loans present a strategic solution for policyholders seeking to access those funds in a tax-advantaged manner. By leveraging the accumulated cash value as collateral for borrowing, policy owners can obtain financing at favorable rates for supplemental retirement income, college tuition, real estate purchases, emergency expenses, and more.

The key is for borrowers to have a plan for managing interest payments and repaying principal over time. With proper oversight, policy loans allow tapping cash value while keeping permanent life insurance intact to protect families and beneficiaries. But left unchecked, growing loan balances could greatly reduce death benefits and even risk policy termination if cash value becomes insufficient.

By understanding how policy loans work, their pros and cons, and following best practices, borrowers can strategically utilize this borrowing option without compromising long-term policy performance. Those wanting to access cash value in 2024 should consult with their insurance agent and tax advisor to discuss how loans would specifically impact their coverage, costs, benefits, and unique financial situation.