Frequently Asked Questions
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Term life insurance or term assurance is life insurance that provides coverage at a fixed rate of payments for a limited period of time, the relevant term. After that period expires, coverage at the previous rate of premiums is no longer guaranteed and the client must either forgo coverage or potentially obtain further coverage with different payments or conditions. If the life insured dies during the term, the death benefit will be paid to the beneficiary. Term insurance is the least expensive way to purchase a substantial death benefit on a coverage amount per premium dollar basis over a specific period of time.
Whole life insurance, like term insurance, will pay your beneficiaries a specific amount of money upon your death. The primary difference between term and whole life is that term insurance provides coverage for a set period, while whole life insurance pays its benefit as long as premiums have been paid.
Universal Life Insurance is a type of permanent life insurance, primarily in the United States of America. Under the terms of the policy, the excess of premium payments above the current cost of insurance is credited to the cash value of the policy.
Joint Life Insurance is also referred to as survivorship life insurance policy, or second-to-die life, as it used to be called, insures two lives — usually a husband and wife. Unlike traditional life insurance, the death benefit isn't paid out until the second insured person dies, used in estate planning.
Key person insurance is simply life insurance on the key person in a business. In a small business, this is usually the owner, the founders or perhaps a key employee or two. These are the people who are crucial to a business--the ones whose absence would sink the company.
There are two types of insurance policies: Term Insurance, which provides temporary coverage; and Permanent Insurance, which provides coverage for the rest of your life.
To understand the features and compare different policies see Insurance Programs.
A report is generated on each policy that consists of the following:
- An introduction that succinctly discusses the changes that have occured in the life insurance marketplace.
- In-force ledgers of the existing policy with different funding options or goals.
- A one-page spreadsheet analysis of the "in-force" ledgers showing the Internal Rate of Return (IRR) fo the death benefit and assumed cash values at various intervals, the number of years that the policy will stay in-force under current assumptions, and the number of years the policy is guaranteed* to stay in-force.
If appropriate, the report may include optional policy alternatives, but only if there is a distinct client advantage.
There are three major factors that affect the performance of a life insurance policy:
- The first is the interest rate return on the underlying investment that provides the cash value in the policy. In Universal Life (UL) and Whole Life (WL) policies this investment account is in Insurance Company-directed investments which generally consist of bonds with some real estate assets. In Variable and Variable Universal Life (VUL) policies the cash value is invested in separate accounts with the asset class chosen by the policyowner.
- The second factor is the expenses in the policy, including the acquisition costs (commissions, underwriting expenses, etc.)
- And the third factor is the actual morality charges within the policy.
Of the three factors noted, the one that most affects the actual performance of the policy versus that projected in the sales illustration is the interest rate obtained. The actual expenses and mortality charges used in the original illustrations are easier to project and predict than the investment return. In all illustrations there is an assumed projection and a guaranteed projection. The assumed projection is a "best guess" of what will occur in the policy going forward using the current assumptions for expense, mortality and investment return. The guaranteed projection uses only those factors that are guaranteed when it projects the outcome. If the actual current interest rate that is obtained in the policy is less than the projected rate, the policy will not perform as well as expected.
Over the course of the last 24 years, the interest rates on Universal Life policies for the most part have dropped. In 1984 when the Universal Life policy was introduced to the market the current interest rate was almost 12%; sincethat time the current rate has dropped to the point where, in 2005, the current rate was below 4.5%. We have seen an increase in crediting rates during the last couple of years.
Although Whole Life policies operate differently then Universal Life policies, the underlying investment returns will be similar. However, in a WL policy the dividends represent a "return on premium" that is dependent on not just the investment returns but also the "gains" in the mortality and expenses (the actual experience is less costly than what was illustrated.)
In Variable Life and Variable Universal Life policies, the investment returns depend on the performance of the separate accounts chosen by the policy-owner. The separate accounts are managed by fund managers, similar to many open ended funds, and can invest in a mix of stocks, bonds or other products based on the can investment and risk tolerance of the underlying fund. In some instance the anticipated returns in these policies have lagged. The drag caused by the lower returns in the life insurance policies purchased causes actual cash values to be lower than the original illustrated values. If investment returns lag for an extended period of time, the policy may lapse, or at least a higher premium will need to be contributed for the policy to reach the original goals.