How do you know when retention of a life insurance policy is better than replacement? Replacing an existing life insurance policy is a difficult decision to make, which may even require additional assistance from your life adviser or insurance company. Replacing your policy could either be a very good or very bad decision.
While replacing your life insurance policy may work in some instance, most of the time this isn’t the case. There are many factors to take into consideration before replacing your policy.
Consider the follow issues before making a decision. If you can associate yourself with any of these issues, replacement may not be in your favor.
When replacing an existing policy, you will incur new first year expense charges for agent compensation, issue and underwriting. The first year of a policy is typically the most expensive year.
The suicide clause and contestable period (i.e., where the company can challenge the policy) start anew, unless the replacing insurer is willing to waive them (be sure to ask).
If your health has deteriorated since the issue of the original policy, or if the original policy was issued with no premium difference between smokers and nonsmokers, and you’re a smoker.
Existence of the new suicide clause and contestable period, advancing age or health concerns, and the loss of important grandfathered rights are some of the more obvious reasons why replacement cannot be justified.
If the existing policy does not qualify for an Internal Revenue Code Section 1035 tax-free exchange, which allows certain exchanges of life insurance to be made without the immediate recognition of gain.
For example, if there is an outstanding policy loan, it may be difficult to affect a tax-free exchange. The taxable income generated by an exchange that does not qualify for tax-free treatment could be significant.
Before policy replacement, discuss it with your life adviser and insurance company. As insurance companies grow, their policies tend to chance and may even become obsolete. When this happens, they will recommend upgrading your policy or policy exchange programs.
On the other hand, there may be circumstances where replacement is indicated by the facts and circumstances. An ethical agent should provide their client with the facts and objective information needed to make an informed decision.
This information should include the reason why the current policy should not be replaced and – when appropriate – how the existing policy might be modified to accomplish the goals.
The need for additional coverage is not, by itself, a justification for replacement. A better approach is purchasing a new policy to cover the additional amount needed.
If you seek further assistance or additional information, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Tony Steuer, CLU, LA, CPFFE
Tony Steuer is an author and advocate for financial preparedness. Tony Steuer, CLU, LA, CPFFE, helps people make sense of the financial world in a way that’s easy for them to understand. His books including, “GET READY!,” “Insurance Made Easy,” and “Questions and Answers on Life Insurance,” have won numerous awards. Tony is the founder of the GET READY! Initiative which includes the GET READY! financial organization system, the GET READY! Financial Preparedness Club, GET READY! Podcast, and the GET READY! Financial Principles, a best practices playbook for the financial services industry. Tony served as long-term member of the California Department of Insurance Curriculum Board. Tony is regularly featured in the media including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Fast Company, and other media. He has also appeared as a guest on television shows, such as ABC’s “Seven on Your Side.” Visit https://tonysteuer.com/ to join the GET READY! Financial Preparedness Club and access free resources.