The Myth of the Rising Cost of Universal Life Insurance

The Universal Life Insurance Myth

For years, those who favor whole life insurance have told us that universal life insurance has an evil side. While the product affords the policyholder ample opportunity to adjust premiums as he/she desires, it also possesses the nasty cost of “shifting the risk back onto the policyholder,” thus (a favorite line of mine) “taking the …

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Myth: Indexed Universal Life Insurance has Stock Market Exposure – Case Study

When we discuss indexed universal life insurance with new potential clients, they commonly mention that they already have stock market exposure, so they see no need to gain additional exposure to the market.

I understand the impression they often have, but assuming that indexed universal life insurance gives you additional exposure to the market is a misunderstanding that could lead you to the wrong decision–many clients have expressed their gratitude in our willingness to pause and discuss the product more to ensure understanding.

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Five Reasons Whole Life Insurance is Better than a 529 Plan

 

The 529 Plan began to materialize in the mid 1990’s taking inspiration from prepaid tuition programs in the state of Michigan.

Since the initial formation it has become the dominate recommendation among financial gurus for college savings in the United States—despite President Obama’s suggestion that we end the tax free distribution 529 Plans enjoy during his 2015 State of the Union Address.

Despite the overwhelming support the financial media expresses for 529’s Americans still overwhelmingly choose basic savings accounts to save for college.

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The Power of Whole Life Insurance in a Down Market

 

A few weeks ago a client of ours (we’ll call him Ted to protect his identity) reached out to us looking to take a policy loan from a whole life policy he owns.

A unique and, arguable rare, opportunity arrived on his door step (literally) and he needed cash. The interesting part of this story, though, is not that whole life cash values were available to him so that he could seize the opportunity but rather that he had plenty of other money he could have used instead.

There was just one problem,

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Life Insurance as an Income Producing Asset with the Power of Leverage

 

We’ve talked a lot about using life insurance as an income producing asset. Many people stumble a bit when they first attempt to wrap their head around the notion of using “insurance” either as a place to save money or as an asset from which they can generate income. 

I raised an eyebrow or two when first presented with the idea. Today’s discussion is not an introduction to the concept of using life insurance as an income source, but rather a somewhat advanced look at why it can work so well.

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Sequence of Returns Risk and Indexed Universal Life Insurance

We’ve addressed the subject of sequence of returns risk in the past. We’ve even discussed it on the new Insurance Pro Blog Podcast. This subject has become a hot topic in more recent years as financial advisors now struggle to build retirement income plans for their clients and face the problem that few, if any, training programs touch. Why isn't their more specific training for advisors on this issue?  Speculating about that would be an interesting topic for another day.

Today, I want to talk about how indexed universal life insurance is affected by sequence of returns risk especially in the context of using a policy to generate retirement income.

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Argument against Permanent Life Insurance: Lack of Fee Disclosure

In our final installment of the five most common arguments made against permanent life insurance we’ll take on fees or the lack of a discussion about fees, as high fees were already discussed.

The claim here is that life insurance contracts are very non-transparent regarding fee disclosure and you never really know what you are signing up for until long after you paid several years worth of premiums.

This argument, like several others, isn’t entirely unfounded. But it takes a large degree of liberal interpretation to the extreme.

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An Indexed Universal Life Insurance Success Story

I was recently reviewing an indexed universal life policy issued seven years ago. We do a lot of reviews for life insurance policies (especially the ones we ourselves put in force for people) and such reviews look at performance to date as well as a comparison to the original policy projection to review how things have unfolded.

For a lot of policies, there’s little variance from the original projection. This is especially true on the whole life insurance side of things since dividends don’t tend to vary all that much (a few exceptions exist for policies we’ve been asked to review we didn’t have a hand in putting in force).

Not all that surprisingly the indexed universal life insurance policies have tended to do better than the original projections.

For the policies we’ve put in force, this is commonly due largely to our insistence on assuming a 6 to 6.5% annual index credit (a lot of less honest agents/brokers like to use numbers in the mid 7 to 8% range, though recent legislation is changing that).

The market has enjoyed a pretty good run since 2008 and indexed insurance products have certainly benefited. As a result, I often get asked what happens if the policy performs better than the 6% number I assume, to which I always point out, you’ll simply have more money.

This is great in theory, but a lot of people have a hard time grasping what that means in a more concrete sense. So today we’ll review publicly a policy that has been in existence for almost a decade and see how it has performed.

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Five Year Asset Growth Indexed Universal Life Companies

Insurance company asset growth is a measure of overall company success in accumulating assets. It’s a metric that certainly indicates positivity when the trend is upwards, but there are a few nuances that we have to keep in mind before ambitiously declaring a winner.

Insurers can accumulate assets either through the new business process (i.e. selling new policies and collecting more premiums) or through superlative investment performance. In either case, an upward trend is almost always favorable, the difficulty comes in trying to determine how much of an upward trend matters when looking at results from multiple life insurers.

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