The ability to borrow money from a cash value life insurance policy later is one of the reasons some people buy it. When you bought your insurance policy, the agent may have told you that you would be borrowing money from yourself and paying it back later.
Loans from your life insurance policy may be promoted by insurance brokers and firms as a simple way to receive tax-free money. Policy loans, on the other hand, are more difficult to understand than they appear.
Loans secured by life insurance policies must be examined and supervised. If a policy loan is not carefully maintained, it may degrade over time, resulting in the loss of the minimum cash value required. This may force you to choose between making significant loan payments and a large phantom income tax gain.
It’s simply a cash advance from a policy that can be obtained through surrender or payment of the death benefit. The cash value of the insurance is used as security for the loan.
If you don’t pay back the policy loan during your life, the amount will be taken out of the death benefit when you die. This reduces the amount your dependents will get and pays back the loan at the same time.
In Board of Assessors v. New York Life Insurance Company (1910), United States Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “The so-called liability of the policyholder never exists as a personal liability, it is never a debt, but is merely a deduction in account from the sum the plaintiffs (the insurer) eventually must pay.”
What is the Process of Getting a Loan on a Life Insurance Policy?
Where there is sufficient cash value to borrow against, life insurance policy loans are possible. (There is no cash value for term life insurance.) A percentage of the cash value will be accessible as a loan amount. The policy loan has to be repaid-with interest.
You must contact your life insurance provider to start a policy loan. Find out what will happen to the parts of your policy when you take out a policy loan before you do so. Request an in-force policy illustration, which will represent the policy’s worth based on your plans—whether you’ll borrow more money, repay the loan, or keep the loan.
Make sure the in-force graphic shows whether you’ll be paying interest out of pocket or borrowing it.
Also, have a look at the loan’s terms. Interest will be charged in advance or arrears, depending on the insurance carrier.
The insurance company will charge you interest for the entire year if you pay interest in advance. This assumes the loan will be extended for the policy year. If a loan is taken out in the middle of a policy year, interest is levied for the duration of the policy year.
When a loan is paid back during the policy year, the insurance company usually does not credit or refund the interest paid in advance.
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The insurance company charges interest in arrears after the policy year. Every day, interest accrues. If a loan is taken out in the middle of a policy year, interest begins to accrue the next day. If you pay off a loan in the middle of the policy year, the daily loan interest will be reduced, lowering the amount of loan interest owed at the end of the year.
A life insurance policy loan might have either a fixed or variable interest rate. Because fixed interest rates are guaranteed, you’ll know exactly how much your loan will cost each year. Each year, variable interest rates can change. Variable interest rates will be shown on your policy’s annual statement and premium notices when loan interest is due.
You can still profit from the money you took out. The insurance company will pay you interest (or dividends) on the amount borrowed, albeit this rate is typically lower than the rate credited to the remaining cash value. You’ll get the same interest rate on selected policies.
The term “recognition” is used in whole life insurance contracts to describe the amount of interest credited to the loaned-out cash value. You will receive the same dividend on all cash value if your life insurance company employs the non-direct recognition technique. If your company utilizes the direct recognition method, you can get a reduced dividend on the portion of your cash value that is used to make the loan.
An automated premium loan provision may be available with whole life plans. If you don’t pay your due premium, a policy loan is taken out of your cash value.
Keep in mind that the interest on a policy loan is not usually tax-deductible.
How to Keep Track of a Loan from a Life Insurance Policy
You will not have to repay the loan balance to the insurance company. They also don’t provide a timeline for loan payback. Each year, you can choose to pay the loan interest yourself or borrow it. If you choose to borrow the interest, the loan balance will increase, and the interest you have to pay each year will also increase.
To calculate the impact of a policy loan, you should request an in-force policy illustration once a year. Along with any other scenarios that match your plans, your request should include the following:
Complete repayment of the insurance policy loan.
Out-of-pocket premiums and interest.
Future premiums and interest are borrowed.
Showing what would happen if your current premium payments remained unchanged.
The premium required to fully endow the policy at maturity is shown.
Any additional actions you’re thinking about, such as taking a partial withdrawal or modifying your dividend option
What Makes a Loan on a Life Insurance Policy Risky?
An in-force policy illustration can assist you in determining how long your insurance will be valid once the loan is paid off. The bigger the loan, the bigger the influence on your insurance.
Consider a $50,000 policy loan with an 8% interest rate:
In the first year, the loan will cost $4,000 in interest.
If you borrow the loan interest, your loan total will rise to $54,000 (the original loan amount of $50,000 plus the $4,000 loan interest).
In year two, the loan interest would be $4,320.
If the loan interest is borrowed again ($54,000 loan balance plus $4,320 loan interest), the total loan sum will be $58,320.
As you can see, the policy loan balance rises quickly.
It works like this
Every year, the cash value of a typical permanent life insurance policy grows. Because the insurer will only pay out the death benefit and absorb the cash value after you die, the total risk to the insurer is reduced. As you get older, your mortality costs (the real cost of insurance) rise. But the insurer is usually not affected by this increase because the amount at risk is lower.
If you take out a loan based on the cash value, your profits will be smaller as the cash value drops. The insurer will deduct money from your cash value if your premium payments are insufficient to meet the mortality claim and other costs. Multiple demands—the loan, fewer earnings, and fees—are depleting your cash value right now. And, unless you make a premium infusion, if the cash value drops to zero, the policy will be canceled.
You’ll be hit with an income tax bill on the loan money you took if the coverage expires.
Using a Life Insurance Policy Loan to Determine Taxable Income
Here’s way to figure out how much of the policy’s potential profit is taxable:
Add up the net cash value (surrender value), any previous or accumulated dividends, and the amount still owed on the loan.
Take the cost foundation out of the equation (the sum of premiums paid into the policy).
The taxable gain on a life insurance policy that ends with a loan balance of $100,000 and a cost basis of $50,000 is $50,000.
Please keep in mind that the above example is merely a guideline that may or may not apply in all cases. If you’re unsure if you’ve made a taxable gain, talk to your tax expert.
Your life insurance provider will be able to supply you with the cost basis as well as the profit, which will be reported to the IRS as 1099 income.
While a life insurance policy loan can provide you with fast cash, it also has certain disadvantages. Before you take the money, be sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.