What Is Indexed Universal Life Insurance (IUL Insurance)

Indexed universal insurance (IUL) IUL is one form of life insurance that provides an insurance benefit in the event of death and also the possibility of investment growth. Its death benefits are assured, and the growth is tied to an index like an index like the S&P 500. The policy’s value may increase or decrease according to its performance. IUL is an excellent choice for those wishing to safeguard their loved ones by providing the death benefit and offering investment growth. Read this post for details about Indexed Universal Life Insurance (IUL).

What Is Indexed Universal Life Insurance?

Indexed universal Life Insurance (IUL) is one kind of permanent life insurance. It remains in force if you remain current on your premium payment or until the maturity date specified within the insurance policy. A lot of IULs expire at the time that an insured person reaches the age of 121.

IUL includes an element of cash value where the gains are linked to an index, such as the S&P 500. Although the growth in cash value is tied to the index, the insurance company invests in other things, such as mortgages and bonds.

However, universal life insurance allows you to change your premiums within a specific limit. The primary distinction between indexed universal insurance and other life insurance plans is how the value of cash accumulates.

How Indexed Universal Life Insurance Works

If you pay the monthly premiums on your permanent life insurance policies, one large portion of the money is used to pay the benefit in case of death. A different portion goes towards the administration fees of the policy as well as your actual costs of securing you. The remainder is destined for the savings account.

The death benefit is tax-free to the beneficiary of your choice when you die. The payout from life insurance typically doesn’t include the payment of cash amount to your beneficiaries.

Cash value accumulation

A policy’s cash worth IUL policy is correlated with the results of the underlying index, like that of the S&P 500 or the Nasdaq composite.

The cash value component in an IUL policy isn’t as unstable as the market for stocks, according to Eric Tarnow, head of products for AIG Life U.S. For instance, the variable universal life insurance is more influenced by the market’s fluctuations.

“But consumers do not directly invest in that index,” Tarnow states. Insurance companies use the index’s return rate to determine the amount the account is credited.

If the index grows in value, your value in cash will increase. IUL policyholders are usually protected from a decrease in the index by an insurance “floor.” The interest rate credited to your account cannot be lower than the floor rate, usually zero. If your index drops 10%, then 0% will be credited, while your money value will not be affected by 10%.

You can take out a loan against the value of your cash by way of a policy loan or cash value. If you pass away, your beneficiaries are awarded an inheritance. Still, death benefits will be diminished due to any loans that are not returned or withdrawals you’ve made of the cash value.

It is typical to pick one or more indexes according to which insurance provider you choose to use. Tarnow mentions that most IUL products also come with an option for a fixed (declared) percentage of return and investing in indexes.

Caps, floors, and participation rates

The value of cash within an IUL isn’t the same as the exact gains or losses.

  • Floor The floor is the rate at which you will be added to your account’s cash. Your floor could be zero percent, which will ensure that you are protected from losses within the index. Your floor will be guaranteed. It won’t change even if you own the policy.
  • Cap: On the other side, you’ll usually find caps, which means that your gains in cash value cannot exceed a certain percentage, regardless of whether the index is performing above the threshold. For instance, if your cap is 10% when the index increases by 12%, your cash value that is tied to that index will increase by 10 percent. The cap isn’t fixed and could change during the time you are the owner of the policy.

Participation percentage The gains in cash are determined based on your “participation rate,” which is determined in the hands of your insurer. This is the amount of the return from the index, which is transferred into your bank account. It is usually ranging from 25% to 100 percent. If an IUL has a participation rate of 100 percent, you’ll get all of the interest generated through your investments until you reach your maximum.

A different example is when your participation percentage is 50 percent, and the index increases 10% each month. You’d get 5% of the duration. Although the growth is usually measured monthly, cash value gains are typically transferred to the account one time each year or once every five years.

The insurance company can alter the percentage of participation at any time at any time during the period you own the policy.

While the internal insurance costs are deducted every month, the cash value earnings are added to your account at the conclusion period, the “segment period” you selected. This can be up to nine years, but usually every year. It can be as often as every month if you select the dollar cost average (DCA).

That means that your Annual Policy Statement might have no income even in a market that is up if the expiration date of the segment is later than the date on Your Annual Policy Statement. “But that doesn’t mean your policy isn’t performing as expected,” states Barry Flagg, president and the founder of insurance analytics company Veralytic.

Although the floor can’t be altered throughout the duration of your policy, Your insurer may alter the cap and participation rates depending on changing market circumstances (such as changes in the prevailing prices of borrowing, level of market volatility, and the price of options on the derivatives market).

Flexible premiums, death benefits, and flexible benefits

You are able to alter your premiums as well as the death benefit amounts if required. If your account has accumulated enough funds, you can make use of the funds to pay for your premiums.

If you choose to pay less or even not pay a premium and pay a premium later, the premiums and insurance costs will be taken out of your savings account each month. As long as your balance in your cash value account is enough to cover these monthly deducts, the insurance policy will be in effect, and the death benefits will continue to be due.

However, there are instances when you need to pay higher fees to the IUL than you had hoped for. In the case of the example, if an index is performing poorly and you’re credited just at 0%, the deducting of monthly premiums can cause the value of your cash to fall, and the policy could be canceled without reinvesting the premium. If your cash value drops far enough, it could be that the insurance company will issue a “premium call,” meaning you’ll need to pay additional funds to avoid a policy expiring.

What Happens When an Indexed Universal Life Insurance Policy Matures?

When any life insurance policy reaches its expiration date (including the IUL), the premiums stipulated in the policy contract are distributed. In specific policies, the benefit is equivalent to the value of cash surrender even in cases where it is just $1, claims Flagg.

In other policies, the amount paid at maturity will equal the total death benefit. However, because the IRS does not recognize this payment as a decedent’s benefit in Section 101 of the Internal Revenue Code, the normally tax-free funds become tax-deductible at ordinary income rates.

Specific life insurance policies have provisions that prolong the policy’s maturity date in the event that the insured is alive on the date of maturity. In these situations, the death benefit is payable at the time of death, even if it is after the initial maturity date, and therefore is tax-free by the beneficiary.

Is Indexed Universal Life Insurance Taxable?

Although you can access the cash value of an IUL policy, there are some instances in which cash withdrawals are tax deductible. For instance, you may take out up to the amount of your base (the amount you’ve contributed to the policy) tax-free. However, the withdrawals that include the entirety of your investment gain before the time of the expiration date are subject to taxation on income during the tax year.

A loan against cash can result in a tax-deductible situation. If you permit the interest on your loan to deplete the cash value at present, your policy may be canceled, and you’ll have to pay tax on the balance of your loan.

Is Indexed Universal Life Insurance Right for You?

Tarnow at AIG states that IULs might be a great option for those who wish to participate in market performance but want to keep their financial portfolio private from market declines.

“Also, for consumers who have maxed out their available retirement plans, an IUL could allow them to contribute with fewer age restrictions and potentially grow cash value on a tax-deferred basis,” Tarnow states.

Be prepared for higher risks and costs. You can expect higher costs and risks with IUL compared to most kinds that offer life insurance. You’ll need to take care of your cash value more carefully than with how assured universal life insurance or whole life insurance policies function.

Cost of Indexed Universal Life Insurance

Quotes for universal life insurance that are indexed are determined based on the type of policy and specific insurers, according to Flagg in Veralytic.

Your premium isn’t even the sole “cost” associated with an IUL. The indexed universal insurance policy is recognized for its high expenses for administration commissions and sales fees as well as the cost of insurance and surrender fees and much more. These affect the cost of your insurance premiums, and you can build cash value.

If you want to purchase an IUL policy, You’ll see forecasts of the policy’s possible growth. These figures are based on estimates of fees, interest rates, and other factors. But, since it’s challenging to determine what the market will be doing shortly, These (likely optimistic) figures are estimates and cannot be 100% guaranteed. Additionally, the illustrations could not contain specific caps or fees.

Focus on the guarantees in the policy’s illustration. Do not assume that your result will match the un-guaranteed projections.

“Current regulations in most states permit insurers to quote low premiums and/or project high account growth–without disclosure of either costs or the risks of additional premium calls, under-performance or policy lapse,” Flagg warns. This is because of a clause of the Dodd-Frank Act that exempts indexed universal life insurance from federal regulations.

It makes comparing various insurance choices’ actual value, costs, and risks very difficult.

“Individuals considering IUL must insist that any proposals include year-by-year cost disclosures and performance requirements,” Flagg declares. Make sure you ask how the impact of fees, premiums, and interest rates impact the overall performance of the policy.

Here are a few advantages and disadvantages of IUL:


  • Potentially higher return than traditional life insurance policies that are all-in.
  • Tax-deferred cash value
  • A loan can be accessed from the account for cash values
  • Permanent coverage


  • Exposure to risk of the market
  • Caps on the amount of interest that could be earned
  • Complex and costly
  • If the policy is canceled before the due date, surrender charges could be charged.


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