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What is indexed universal life insurance? (IUL)


Indexed universal life insurance is a mouthful to say, which is why it is often referred to only as an "IUL" policy.

But behind the technical name of the insurance is a life insurance plan that provides a wide range of flexibility not offered with other types of life insurance.

During the course of the insurance, it is possible to change the premiums you pay, the nominal value of the death benefit and even the amount of the cash value accumulated in the insurance.

Indexed universal life insurance is not the right insurance choice for all consumers, or even most. But if you are looking for the specific features offered by this type of life insurance, it can be a perfect complement to your overall financial

This is because, in addition to the flexibility it offers, it also comes with both a death benefit and an accumulation function.

Think of it as a whole life insurance with flexible terms.

What is indexed universal life insurance?

IUF insurance looks a lot like a whole life insurance policy. But it has enough variations in the basic terms to make it a completely separate type of insurance. But that's about where the similarities end.

Perhaps the biggest difference between whole life and IUF insurance is in how the cash value is handled. Just like the whole life insurance, a percentage of your IUF insurance premium goes into the cash value. But where an entire life policy works more like a bank account, paying a fixed interest rate, an IUF insurance offers investment options.

While you can choose to invest your money in an interest income, similar to a full life insurance policy, you can also direct your cash value to insurance funds based on certain underlying investment indices. For example, you can choose to have part or all of your cash value invested in a fund linked to the S&P 500 index.

There is an important difference here. Funds that are invested in equities are not invested directly in equities, but rather in indices linked to precisely those equity sectors. You are paid interest on your share instead of a dividend or capital increase. Regardless of the source, the income you receive is considered on your cash value interest.

But in addition to investment flexibility, you can also adjust your death benefit. This is because an IUF insurance is primarily an investment account that offers a life insurance death benefit.

Generally, the majority of your premium goes to the investment portion of your insurance. But you have the option to adjust the death benefit either higher or lower.

If you increase the death benefit, less money will come to your investment account. If you reduce it, more funds will go to the investment provision. It is an excellent option to have because the need for life insurance varies throughout your life.

In the same way as full life insurance, you can also borrow against your insurance. The money can even be borrowed without tax consequences or even the need for monthly repayments. Each outstanding loan balance will be paid out of your death benefit upon your death.

And although this provision has some technical limitations, you may be able to take distributions from your investment provision that are at least partially tax-free. Just like a Roth IRA, the portion of your withdrawal that represents your actual contributions can be taken without creating a tax liability.

How does an IUF policy work?

Let us begin this discussion with the investment provision, as it is the core function of indexed universal life insurance.

Investing in IUF

Again, you have the choice to invest in fixed income investments, equity investments linked to an index or a combination of both.

If you invest in equity investments, there will be a ceiling on how much you can earn on these investments. However, there is also a floor that prevents you from losing money.

If you have any of your investments in an index based on the S&P 500, the IUF can allow a maximum annual return of 9%. If the index rises by 1

5% for that year, your return to the ceiling is limited to 9%. The remaining 6% return will be retained by the insurance company.

But that limit is a positive trait. While your gains are limited, your losses are also limited.

For example, the policy may have a minimum return of 0%. This means that if the S&P 500 index were to fall by 15%, you would not lose any money.

For investors who want to participate in equities but are afraid of the potential losses – especially in a crash or bear market. —A IUL policy can be an ideal way to invest in equities without meeting the potential for catastrophic losses under uncertain market conditions.

Insurance coverage of the IUF

The insurance coverage of an IUF is also more complicated than for an entire life insurance policy.

This is because the insurance provision is an annual insurance period. As such, the cost of that coverage will increase as you age.

This can lead to the insurance part eating up an increasing share of your annual premium as you get older.

The alternative will be to reduce the amount. of the provision on death benefits.

Advantages and disadvantages of indexed universal life insurance


  • Flexibility. You can adjust the amount of your death benefit, which will also change the distribution of your insurance premiums. Not only will this give you the opportunity to increase the contribution to your investment supply, but it may also better reflect the changing needs for life insurance throughout your life. For example, when you are young and have children who depend on you, you may want a greater death benefit. However, as you get older and your financial situation reaches the point where you are almost completely insured, you may want to reduce the death benefit to a minimal level. With an IUF policy, you have that option.
  • Investment regulations. Unlike a full life insurance policy, where you only have one interest income, an IUF insurance policy will give you both an interest rate option and participation in indexed equity funds. This holds the potential for a much greater long-term growth of your investment supply than you can ever get in a full life insurance policy.
  • Investment income is tax deferred. Like the pension plans, the investment income accumulates in the plan and cannot be taxed until it is withdrawn.
  • Can be an excellent pension supplement. Virtually all retirement plans limit your contributions. For example, the maximum you can contribute is a 401 (k) $ 19,500 per year, or $ 26,000 if you are 50 years or older. The maximum you can contribute to a traditional or Roth IRA is $ 6,000 per year, or $ 7,000 if you are 50 years or older. If you have reached these limits and want to contribute more to your pension – perhaps because you want to retire early – there is no limit to how much you can contribute to a IUF policy. It can be a valuable additional investment account to supplement what you have in your retirement plans.
  • No disadvantage loss potential. Because IUF policies limit investment income, you do not lose money in your investment account even under the worst market conditions.
  • Potential tax-free withdrawals. You can withdraw from your plan either by taking out a loan or by withdrawing amounts that you have contributed to the plan.


  • You can make better investments on your own. The average long-term return on inventory has been 10% per year since the 1920s. If your IUF policy limits your investment income to 10% and sets a floor of 0%, you can average only 5% per year. In that case, you would do better to simply invest in an index fund based on the S&P 500 on your own and get the benefit of full return in the long run.
  • Premiums paid to your IUL are not deductible. This generally applies to most types of life insurance. However, since an IUU is primarily an investment account, the lack of deductibility can be a problem, especially for anyone who does not usually maximize their formal pension plan contributions.
  • High fees. This is not a topic that insurance agents like to discuss, but insurances that include an investment provision usually include high fees. The complicated problem is that the amount of these fees is not always obvious. And since a life insurance policy is essentially a contract, it contains a lot of legal provisions that cannot be easily understood by the average consumer. If you take out such insurance, you may want it reviewed by an insurance lawyer before you formally accept the insurance.
  • Tax consequences may apply if your plan withdrawals exceed your fees. If your withdrawals from your insurance exceed the value of your contributions, you may incur a tax liability on the excess amount.
  • Your income may be taxable if you surrender your insurance or cancel it. If you have borrowed against your insurance or taken out withdrawals that exceed your contributions to the plan and allow the insurance to cease, the deficit may be taxable.

Are you going to buy an indexed universal life insurance policy?

Indexed universal life insurance is at the high end of the spectrum of life insurance complications.

This is a sophisticated plan for insurance investments, similar to annuities. It is best suited for consumers who are familiar with the type of policy or who have professional advice, such as a lawyer or a CPA, who can clearly explain the many provisions of the policy.

But if you meet this qualification and you are looking for either a way to combine an investment supply with your life insurance, or if you want to "replenish" your pension savings, an IUF insurance may be right for you.

For most other consumers, the best strategy will be to go with life insurance, not least because you can buy a great life insurance policy with the lowest possible premium. You can then invest your money in index funds and benefit from the full return that these funds will provide.

Where to get an indexed universal life insurance policy

I hope you got a clear picture that a universal life insurance was indexed is a complicated financial plan, and one that you should not go into easily.

Many life insurance companies offers IUF plans, and there are many variations. This is especially true when it comes to insurance information, such as administrative fees and the ceiling and floor on your investment income.

If you are going to buy such insurance, the best way to do so is to work with an independent life insurance company. broker. Because we work with many companies, we are not limited by the insurance company's limitations.

Instead, we can look for the IUF policy that works best for your specific needs and preferences. We can even suggest that you take an alternative route if we feel it will be in your best interest. That is the advantage of being independent.

Just fill in the box Get a free life insurance quote to the right of this article and let's get started and help you get the best coverage at the lowest possible premium.

* While doing our utmost to keep our site up to date, please be aware that "current" information on this site, such as quotation estimates or relevant company information, may only be accurate as of its last edit date. Huntley Wealth & Insurance Services and its representatives do not provide legal or tax advice. Please contact your own legal or tax advisor.

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