Universal Life Insurance: A Policy worth exploring
• Is the savings component required? In the event of death, are your savings payable to your beneficiaries in addition to the insurance amount?
• What kind of investment accounts are available: variable-term, guaranteed investments with simple or compound interest, index-linked investments, etc.?
• Is there a guaranteed minimum interest rate?
• Can you diversify your savings portfolio through different investment accounts and transfer funds from one account to another at any time?
• Can you start or stop saving whenever you wish or change the amount of your contributions?
• Can you use these savings to pay for your insurance coverage?
• In the case of last-to-die coverage, can the accumulated savings be paid out in the event of the first death?
• Is it possible to register these savings as an RRSP? Although it is quite rare, some companies offer this option.
• Are you entitled to annual investment bonuses that increase your tax-free savings? You should not only check the percentage bonus offered, but also the factors that trigger a bonus.
• In the event of illness or disability, can you access your savings in the form of tax-free disability benefits?
Loan and surrender provisions
At some point in your life, you may run into situations where you need extra resources or cash flow. Find out what the various insurers have to offer and which conditions apply.
- If you decide to withdraw your savings, when and at what frequency can the surrender be made? Can savings be withdrawn in part? What is the minimum and maximum amount you can withdraw?
- Is there a surrender fee other than the market value adjustment? If so, over what period does it apply?
- Borrowing against or surrendering the guaranteed cash value If you purchase permanent life insurance that offers guaranteed surrender values, can these values be used to pay for your universal life insurance? If so, what is the interest rate that will apply to the loan?
- If you wish to obtain the surrender value, will the surrender lead to the cancellation of one or more of your insurance coverage options or change the insurance amount?
Insurance costs and fees
Insurance costs and fees may be leveled or variable, guaranteed or subject to change, and may apply indefinitely or only for a given period. Check which options are available to you?
- Insurance costs vary depending on the type of life and critical illness coverage you choose, the number of insured’s, whether it is payable on a first-to-die or last-to-die basis, the sex of the insured, their state of health, whether or not they are a smoker, and other factors.
- Preferred rate: Some companies may also offer discounts on premiums because of the insured’s good physical condition and overall health. If you think you’re in good health, take the time to get more information. Don’t forget to find out what criteria are used to get preferred rates, as they vary from company to company.
• Administrative fees may include policy fees. Can these fees be paid in a lump sum? Generally, universal life insurance also includes management fees for the various investment accounts. Is there a guaranteed maximum for these fees?