I started Insurance Blog by Chris™ because I have a passion for insurance. Here at the blog, our job is to educate and inform people about the best insurance for them. Since then, we have grown into national brands with a large team of researchers helping people understand all forms of insurance.

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Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insu...

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Reviewed by Rachael Brennan
Licensed Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Nov 9, 2020

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The majority of people who buy life insurance usually do so to provide income replacement for their families.

…but, did you know that there are many creative ways to use your life insurance policy?

Term life is a much more basic form of life insurance which pays death benefits only. It’s great for income replacement and providing a financial safety net for your family, but does not provide as much room for creative uses as permanent policies.

Permanent life insurance policies, on the other hand, have much greater flexibility in terms of creative planning for both personal and business purposes.

Permanent policies not only provide a person with death benefits but have the added advantage of having a cash value accumulation portion which grows over the life of the policy.

RELATED: 5 Critical Tips You Must Know Before Buying Life Insurance

The best part? There are a variety of ways you can use these components to your advantage while you are still living and thereafter.

In this article, for the most part, we are talking about permanent policies such as Universal Life, Indexed Universal Life, Guaranteed Universal Life and Whole life policies.

Although, there is one particular way Term insurance can be used in a creative manner for both personal and business use, which we will explore below.

How To Creatively Use Life Insurance for Personal Use

  1. Small Business Loans
  2. Immediate Cash Flow
  3. Chronic Illness
  4. Tax Shelter
  5. Estate Taxes
  6. Death Benefits
  7. Premiums
  8. Surrender of Permanent Policy
  9. Supplement Retirement
  10. Enhance Income
  11. Life Insurance Trust (ILIT)
  12. Fund College Tuition
  13. Long Term Care
  14. Start a Business
  15. Investment
  16. Charity
  17. Key Man
  18. Deferred Compensation
  19. Cross Buy Sell Agreement
  20. Group Life Insurance

Personal or Small Business Loans

Many people need to obtain personal or small business loans (SBA’s) Banks require you to have life insurance as collateral.

Most insurers offer term policies starting at a 10 year term, which may too long of a period to insure a loan.

There are a few insurers which offer 1 Year renewable policies or 5-year term policies.

To find insurers that fit your needs, we recommend using an independent life insurance agent, such as the ones here at Huntley Wealth.

Permanent Policy to Access Immediate Cash Flow

It generally takes 12 – 15 years before you can take advantage of the cash value accumulation portion, but you can borrow against it.

You can choose to pay the loan back to the insurer with interest or have the amount deducted from the death benefits (also with accumulated interest).

There are potential tax disadvantages involved so you should speak with a financial adviser if you do so.

Permanent Policy for Chronic Illness

Some, but not all permanent policies will allow you to access funds from your death benefits if you develop a chronic illness. A portion of the death benefits may be used to pay for medical expenses while you are still alive.

The extent of your chronic illness must incapacitate you sufficiently as defined in the terms outlined by the policy which may vary from insurer to insurer.

RELATED: Check Sample Life Insurance Rates by Age (No Personal Info Required)

Use a Permanent Policy for Tax Shelter Accumulation

random tax form with highlighted areas in blue

The cash value accumulation for many policies also allows you to use your policy as an investment vehicle. The money distributed into that portion of a permanent policy is invested by the insurer.

Many companies provide a minimum amount of return regardless of how the market performs. The return you make within a life insurance policy is not subject to taxes.

Use a Permanent Policy To Reduce Estate Taxes

A permanent life insurance policy can be used to:

1) Reduce Estate Taxes: The amount of premiums are deducted from your estate to reduce annual taxes, and

2) Cover Estate Taxes: Immediate tax-free cash becomes available when you die so your beneficiaries can pay for both federal and state estate taxes without having to liquidate assets.

Increase Your Death Benefits

Did you know that if you have no need for the accumulated cash value portion, you can use these funds to increase your death benefit? It depends on your insurer, but most companies want to keep your business.

All you have to do is contact them and tell them you want to trade the cash value accumulation for increased death benefits equivalent to the cash value that you have already accumulated.

Use Your Permanent Policy to Pay Your Premiums

Permanent policies are much more expensive than term policies. Once you have built up the cash value accumulation, many policies/companies will allow you to use this built up cash accumulation to pay your premiumswhich gives you more immediate cash flow.

Surrender you Permanent Policy

If you no longer need life insurance and are sufficiently well, or if your financial situation changes where you can no longer pay the premiums, you can always surrender the policy rather than let it lapse.

This assumes you have had the policy long enough to benefit from the cash value accumulation feature.

Use Permanent Life Insurance to Supplement Your Retirement

Many high-income earners will likely max out what they contribute to their IRA’s and 401(k) plans.

If you need additional means to find a tax shelter for your retirement income, then a permanent policy may be the ideal choice. Any additional income you derive in the cash value accumulation portion is non-taxable.

Use a Policy to Enhance Your Income

There are also other forms of policies known as annuities. You buy a policy when you are younger and the premium you pay is invested.

When you retire you can opt for either a fixed income or opt for a variable annuity which varies the payment based on how well the annuity performs.

Use Your Permanent Policy as an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust

You can also use your permanent policy to set up an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT). Once established this trust that cannot be changed. A trust can be used to protect your beneficiaries from estate taxes as the trust is not considered to be part of the estate.

It also protects the recipients of the trust from creditors. ILITs have pros and cons, so always be to discuss the establishment of a trust with an estate lawyer or experienced financial adviser.

Use a Permanent Policy To Fund College Tuition or Pay off Debts

Again, this refers to using the cash value accumulation portion for both of these purposes. As stated previously, if you withdraw the cash to fund your children’s education or to pay off a debt, you may be subject to tax ramifications and a reduction of the death benefit portion of the policy.

Use a Permanent Policy to Pay for Long Term Care

If you are elderly and are looking to qualify for Medicaid, you may not be able to if you have a life insurance policy in excess of $2,000.00.

lady pushing older man in a wheelchair

Rather than letting any policy above this amount lapse, or surrender the policy, you may want to consider converting the life insurance into a Long-Term Care benefit plan.

Converting a policy will transfer the ownership of a life insurance policy to an entity that acts as a benefits administrator. As the original owner, you no longer hold the policy so it won’t count against you when applying for Medicaid.

The benefits administrator will pay the monthly premiums on the policy to the insurance company and agree to pay the previous policyholder a series of monthly payments based on the value of the policy.

Use The Cash Value to Start a Business

It can be very difficult to find startup capital to fund a new business. Lenders are very reticent about approving loans if you don’t have revenue. If you have built up the cash value feature in a permanent life insurance policy, you can always borrow that money to help fund the costs of launching a new business.

Use a Permanent Policy as an Investment Alternative

If you are risk averse when it comes to investing money, and are seeking a risk free investment vehicle which is not taxable, then the cash accumulation feature of a permanent policy can be the ideal choice.

Many policies offer a minimum rate of return which protects you even when the market is experiencing a downturn. The payout you receive is also tax free.

Use a Permanent Policy to Fund Your Favorite Charity

Rather than simply donating your wages or savings to your favorite charity, you can significantly boost the amount you are able donate by designating your beloved charity as a beneficiary of your life insurance policy.

This money will be donated tax-free to the charity you choose when you pass.

How To Creatively Use Life Insurance for Business Use

Life insurance can also be used to enhance and protect your business in a variety of useful and creative ways including:

Use a Policy for “Key Man” Protection

Every company whether small, medium or large is dependent on the resources and abilities provided by persons who are vital to the success of the enterprise.

Losing key personnel can put an excess financial strain on a company. You can protect your business by buying a life insurance policy on key people.

Use Life Insurance as Deferred Compensation Plans to Retain Employees

Use Group Cash Value Life Insurance plans to provide incentives for employees to remain with the company. Plans such as Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Plans allow the employee to build up cash accumulation which is tax-deferred and can be borrowed against.

The employee also has the additional benefit of being able to name their beneficiaries, the amount they want to contribute and value of the coverage.

Use a Permanent Policy for a Cross Buy-Sell Agreement

This type of policy can be used to protect the owners/partners in a business along with their heirs. Each owner/partner buys a policy on the other partner(s) equivalent to the value of the share they have vested in the business.

The policy is structured so the heirs can sell their share of the business to the surviving partners. There are taxation issues involved so be sure to use an appropriate business adviser/lawyer when setting up these types of plans.

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Use Life Insurance to Set Up Group Life Insurance Plan

Group life insurance can be a big incentive for any potential employee to join your organization and a perk for existing employees. It’s generally very inexpensive to buy and can be a boon to employees who may not already be in the best of health and have difficulty finding affordable life insurance for their families.

A plan can be created where employees have the option to buy additional life insurance on top of the existing Group Plan.

Need more information on how you could creatively use a life insurance policy? Call us today at 888-603-2876. We can help!