What Is Universal Life Insurance?

What is universal life insurance and how does it work? Read on to find out.

In case you’re on the lookout for life insurance, there are a lot of alternatives that you can opt for. What’s more, in case you’re searching for a strategy that offers lifelong inclusion, one alternative worth considering is universal life insurance. With universal life insurance, you can get lifelong inclusion. The life insurance payout, called a death benefit, is paid to your recipients without any tax. Some universal life arrangements additionally construct cash value, with gains developing tax-free. Furthermore, there might be adaptability to change your premium installments and death benefit, contingent upon the arrangement.

What makes the arrangement flexible is its installment structure — you can diminish (or build) the amount you pay towards premiums. In the event that you decline the amount you spend on premiums, the difference is removed from your arrangement’s accumulated cash value. A universal life insurance strategy can be a solid match for somebody who is searching for some adaptability and flexibility in their life insurance. Be that as it may, universal life insurance can be confounding and costly, so term life insurance is the most ideal choice for a great many people.

If you want to know more about what is universal life insurance, then you have come to the right place. We have gathered all relevant information to help you understand everything that you need to know. So, what are you waiting for? Without much further ado, let us jump right in!

What is universal life insurance?

Universal life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance with an investment savings component and low premiums that are like those of term life insurance. Furthermore, most universal life insurance strategies contain a flexible-premium alternative. In any case, some require a single lump-sum premium whereas others require scheduled fixed premiums. With a universal life strategy, the safeguarded individual is covered for the duration of their life as long as they pay premiums and satisfy some other necessities of their approach to look after inclusion. In the same way as other lasting life approaches, universal life insurance combines cash value with lifelong security. At the point when you die, the strategy’s death benefit is paid out to your recipients.

Part of the premiums you pay goes towards the death benefit, while the rest is granted towards the money worth of your strategy, which acquires a modest quantity of variable premium and isn’t taxed while it develops. While you are alive, you can utilize the cash value to:

  • Pay your strategy premiums
  • Withdraw cash, but with extra fees
  • Get a loan, which you’ll need to pay back with interest

Universal life insurance offers lifelong inclusion, gives adaptability with regards to paying premiums and decisions for how the strategy’s cash value is contributed. A standard universal life insurance strategy’s cash value becomes just like the safety net provider’s portfolio and can be utilized to pay premiums. Varieties, for example, variable and indexed universal life insurance give you choices for how to put away the strategy’s cash value. Universal life insurance is regularly compared to whole life insurance, a strategy that likewise offers lifelong inclusion, but is more affordable and offers more policy alternatives.

How does universal life insurance work?

A universal life insurance choice gives more adaptability than whole life insurance. Policyholders can change their premiums and death benefits. Universal life insurance premiums comprise of two segments: a cost of insurance (COI) sum and a saving portion, known as the cash value.

As the name suggests, the COI is the base measure of a premium installment needed to keep the strategy dynamic. It comprises of a few things joined together into one installment. COI incorporates the charges for mortality, strategy organization, and other straightforwardly related costs to keeping the approach active. COI will shift by strategy dependent on the policyholder’s age, insurability, and the protected danger sum. Gathered premiums in an abundance of the cost of universal life insurance amass within the cash value segment of the strategy. Over the long haul, the cost of insurance will increment as the guaranteed grows old. Notwithstanding, if adequate, the accumulated cash value will cover the expansions in the COI.

Universal life approaches have two unique “schedules” that are utilized to compute the cost of insurance and other arrangement charges. These charges are what your premiums pay for, or, in case you’re not paying premiums, they are deducted from the cash value. You can discover them on your quarterly insurance articulation.

The “current schedule” depends on the actual expenses of the claims, investment results, and costs that the insurance organization has. The “guaranteed schedule” demonstrates the highest amounts you can be charged with. The insurance organization can raise or lower the current schedule, yet not more than the guaranteed maximum expressed in the approach.

With a universal life strategy, you can change premium installments up or down — a higher premium installment will build the cash value, while a lower premium or no installment may diminish it, contingent upon how much premium is being credited to the cash value account. This adaptability is helpful in the event that you need to bring down premiums dependent on monetary conditions, or in the event that you need to expand premiums to benefit from the tax-conceded development in the cash value. Different sorts of lasting insurance, similar to an entire life, have a fixed premium schedule that can’t be changed.

How to get a universal life insurance policy?

A universal life insurance strategy can be an incredible monetary tool that can help ensure your family’s financial prosperity for quite a long time to come, with the adaptability to help you construct resources, manage life’s vulnerabilities and low points, and even give abundance to the future. Every strategy is individualized to the policyholder’s requirements and circumstance and keeping in mind that premiums are flexible, a healthy 40-year old male can by and large hope to pay $8,000 – $10,000 per year for a $1,000,000 strategy. However, some direction is needed in order to come to the right conclusion and answer for your needs. In the event that you think this kind of insurance strategy is ideal for you, talk about your circumstance with an insurance agent or monetary professional with experience in permanent life assurance. In the event that you don’t know a particular professional, ask a companion or partner for a suggestion. Or then again, different online sites can introduce you to a financial advisor who can help.

Types of universal life insurance

There are three types of universal life insurance policies.

Fixed Rate

The insurance organization puts away the cash value segment as a component of its overall portfolio and premium is credited to the record dependent on the exhibition of the portfolio. Despite the fact that fixed-rate universal life approaches have a base revenue ensure, in a low-loan cost climate, they’re not alluring.


By far most new universal life arrangements are ordered universal life approaches — 70% of UL strategies sold in the primary quarter of 2020 were IUL. Indexed approaches offer purchasers the potential for financial exchange gains without the danger of losing head. The cash value segment is credited dependent on the presentation of a monetary record, like the S&P 500. In the event that the file goes up, the cash value is credited with a level of the addition, for the most part up to a cap or roof expressed in the approach. On the off chance that the record goes down, there are no revenue credits and no misfortunes to the cash value.


The cash value part is to put resources into common supports the arrangement proprietor picks. The cash value is determined by the additions and misfortunes of the shared finances chose. On the off chance that speculations perform inadequately, the cash value can diminish, and the approach might actually slip by if misfortunes are adequately incredible.

How much does universal life insurance cost?

Since universal life insurance arrangements are lasting and accumulate cash value, the premiums are much higher. Nonetheless, it very well may be hard to make a drawn-out financial plan for this kind of strategy in light of its flexible premiums. Also, before your approach develops cash value, you’ll be paying a great deal of cash to have that adaptability. The real cost of universal life insurance isn’t fixed when you get it, making it monetarily dangerous. Also, the cost of a universal life insurance strategy typically builds extra time — on an arrangement that as of now has negligible venture ensures — so it’s not the best vehicle for gathering assets.

Universal life insurance is impressively more costly than term life insurance. For instance, for a 10-year term strategy, let’s assume that a female would pay an average of just $36.20 each month at age 30 and $234.67 at age 60. Then again, whole life insurance is significantly more costly than universal life, with average rates for a female of $706.25 each month at age 30 and $2,886.50 at age 60.

Benefits of universal life insurance

Some benefits of universal life insurance are given below:

Lifetime protection. Universal life insurance doesn’t lapse by the time a  set term is about to end – it gives lasting, life-long monetary insurance for your recipients. As long you keep the record on favorable terms with a positive cash value sum, your inclusion can’t be dropped. A term life insurance strategy gives a guaranteed death benefit to a set term, however, it can turn out to be more costly as you grow older and can be harder to get. With universal life insurance, you’re covered forever, if your wellbeing deteriorates – and the tax-free death benefit paid to your family is guaranteed.

Cash value accumulation. Since universal life is lasting insurance, you can have an inherent portion of the cash that develops over the long run and brings in revenue – the cash value. You can acquire against this cash value as a credit, apply it to strategy charges, or even acquiescence to the approach for cash to live on in retirement. Notwithstanding, the adaptability and freedom of universal life additionally imply that there are fewer assurances contrasted with a whole life strategy: As you utilize your universal life cash value, it will influence the sum your family gets when you’re gone, or even reason your insurance inclusion to pass, so you should remain in contact with your monetary professional to help ensure your arrangement keeps on addressing your necessities.

More flexibility in payments. In contrast to a whole life strategy with fixed premium installments that don’t differ, a universal life insurance strategy allows you to raise or lower your installments as you see fit, inside the restrictions of the arrangement. Paying less could in the long run bring about the need to pay higher premiums in later years to keep your inclusion – yet that adaptability can likewise make it simpler to keep your arrangement in power throughout the long term.

Tax-advantaged. Premium acquired within the record is tax-conceded, so cash value isn’t taxed while it’s developing – assisting it with becoming quicker. As tax arrangements and rates may change contingent on IRS necessities and your pay, make certain to survey these with your monetary and tax professionals.

Options to enhance your coverage. Guardian universal life strategies accompany discretionary arrangements, or riders, that can modify your strategy to your individual necessities. You can pick riders to add long-haul care as you become more seasoned, stretch out inclusion to your mate, or let you utilize the death benefit for care in the event that you build up a basic ailment.

What are the disadvantages of universal life insurance?

Universal life’s benefits are also its disadvantages. One con is that control accompanies extended duty and responsibility. You can miss installments, come up short for and underfund you. In the event that you don’t focus on the value of your record, you could end up expecting to make a progression of huge installments to keep up the inclusion you pursued.

Moreover, market rates bring volatility. At the point when financing costs are rising, universal life insurance resembles an extraordinary item. Financing costs have been beneath 3% for longer than 10 years, and the more rates shift from the time you purchase an approach, the less accurate your original installment and record value projections will be.

With a bigger number of choices than term or even whole life inclusion, a universal life strategy can be perplexing, and the arrangement should be overseen: you need to determine the amount you need to pay for premiums, and with variable universal life you additionally need to settle on speculation decisions. Those variables, alongside a cost of insurance that increments after some time, can influence and even cheapen the value of your cash-value account. You likewise need to watch out for your record value over the long run: If it goes down to nothing, your premiums could go up, or inclusion could be dropped. Some other disadvantages  are:

  • Higher premiums than term insurance
  • Surrender penalties, often for at least 10 years
  • Expense charges and the cost of insurance can be expanded (to the most extreme in the arrangement arrangements)

What is the maturity date in life insurance?

Universal life insurance arrangements have a maturity date which happens when you turn a specific age (often between 85 to 121). At the point when an arrangement arrives at its maturity date, you by and large get installment and inclusion closes. Contingent upon the strategy, the installment may be the death benefit or a predefined dollar sum, yet it’s generally equivalent to the approach’s cash value. This can be an issue in the event that you live past the maturity date and have utilized the greater part of the cash value to pay premiums, as you can wind up with no inclusion and minimal expenditure returned to you. Subsequently, you ought to pick a strategy with a development date that you’re OK with given your intended utilization of the inclusion. For instance, on the off chance that you need to keep your family from paying inheritance taxes when you die, regardless of when that is, you’ll need a high age for the maturity date.

Alternatives to universal life insurance

There are two other alternatives to life insurance available.

Term Insurance

Term insurance terminates following an expressed number of years, like 10 or 30. Term insurance is unadulterated insurance assurance, which means it has no cash value and can be a modest other option, particularly for young families who may require high measures of security for a predetermined number of years. For an extra premium, term insurance can be bought with an alternative that considers transformation to a perpetual arrangement.

Whole Life Insurance

Whole life insurance, similar to universal, is lasting insurance and is proposed to remain in power until the death of the guaranteed. Whole life insurance has a guaranteed fixed premium and cash values. It’s likewise accessible with term insurance that supplements the insurance assurance. Whole life is for the most part sold by common insurance organizations that deliver profits to policyholders dependent on the organization’s profitability.

Universal life insurance vs. whole life

A universal life insurance strategy gives a large number of similar lasting coverage and benefits as whole life insurance together with some other added highlights. Notwithstanding flexible premiums, some universal life arrangements let you put your cash value in an assortment of market-based investment alternatives, giving you the potential for more development. Then again, universal life offers less (or potentially lower) cash value development ensures.

Whole life approaches offer lasting inclusion at a fixed premium and fixed death benefit. Toward the start of the arrangement’s life, you’re overpaying for your COI. Toward the finish of the approach, you’re coming up short on. The whole life strategy spreads that cost out similar to a home loan does. Universal life doesn’t have a similar component. You need to pay enough to cover your COI, however, you don’t need to pay overabundance. A universal life cash-value account is typically financed all the more vigorously in the initial few years of a strategy. That forms the record value up, begins the premium procuring cycle, and gives you a cushion in later years. At that point, you ought to have the option to diminish installments over the long haul.

Universal life insurance death benefit options

Probably the greatest choice you’ll make in a universal life strategy is the means by which your death benefit is paid. There are two choices:

  • Have the death benefit continue as before through the life of the approach. For example, in the event that you pursue $100,000, develop some cash value — suppose $60,000 — to help pay premiums, at that point you pass on, your recipients get $100,000.
  • Add the value of your cash-value record to the death benefit. Thus, in the above given example, your recipients would get $160,000 — the death benefit in addition to the cash value.

Since utilizing the subsequent choice means your cash account the guarantor would regularly clutch after death is presently gone to recipients, it’s the more costly alternative.

Who should buy universal life insurance?

Universal life insurance items are typically for people with high total assets and unmistakable tax or venture needs. On the off chance that you have maximized any remaining investment parts, for instance, you’d benefit from adding a universal life insurance strategy to your portfolio. Or then again, in case you’re a high worker, you may consider adding a universal life insurance strategy to your monetary toolbox since it can help you fabricate a retirement fund without entering a significantly higher tax section.

Any individual who has a requirement for a permanent life insurance strategy ought to think about a universal life strategy. Premiums can be changed (or stopped) if fundamental, and the cash value develops tax-conceded and can be received, now and again, without tax results. Likewise, most universal life insurance items have a choice of living benefit riders to cover long-haul care costs, supplement retirement pay, and address other monetary necessities.

Universal life insurance can likewise be a strong decision for young professionals who have or hope to have a requirement for insurance, need to secure low rates while they’re still young and healthy, and would benefit from the tax-free nature of the cash value account. Indeed, if the cost of protecting you is low, you may track down that the interest credited to your record takes care of the expense of insurance and strategy charges. In a low financing cost climate, this example may be more probable with a listed arrangement where premium credited depends on the profits of a securities exchange benchmark like the S&P 500.

Is universal life insurance worth it?

A universal life insurance strategy can be pricey, and for the vast majority, buying a term life insurance strategy and putting the difference in an IRA, 401(k), or conventional speculations will give more noteworthy re-visitations of a lower cost. Yet, for people in a high tax section, a universal life insurance strategy can offer a tax-conceded resource collection alternative that likewise ensures the monetary security of their friends and family. Talking to a financial agent is the most ideal approach to determine whether a universal life insurance strategy finds a way into your monetary arrangement.

How to find the best universal life company?

Universal life arrangements are quite complex, so to track down the correct organization, you’ll need to search for a couple of things. To start with, you’ll need a life insurance supplier that is monetarily strong so you’ll know your cash-value account is protected and your recipients will get a payout when you pass away. You can discover monetary strength appraisals for most organizations from A.M. Best or Standard and Poor’s. However, you may require a free login to check. A strong life insurance organization will have a letter evaluation of A- or better from A.M. Best.

Second, you should discover an organization that offers the strategy choices you’re searching for. Universal life arrangements can be sold with various guaranteed minimum interest costs and different expense structures. At last, you ought to talk with a monetary counsel — fee-only financial agents can help you here — to more readily see how the organization’s items contrast and which one is ideal for your drawn-out objectives.


Now that you have read this article, you know all about what is universal life insurance. Universal life insurance offers lifelong inclusion, gives adaptability with regards to paying premiums and decisions for how the arrangement’s cash value is contributed. A standard universal life insurance strategy’s cash value develops and grows on the basis of the guarantor’s portfolio and can be utilized to pay premiums. Variable and indexed universal life insurance gives you alternatives for how to put away the arrangement’s cash value. Universal life insurance is often compared with whole life insurance, a strategy that likewise offers lifelong inclusion, but is more affordable and offers more approach choices. Make sure that you’re working with a trustworthy monetary agent or life insurance specialist while thinking about these approaches because they can often be quite perplexing.

John Otero

John Otero

John Otero is an industry practitioner with more than 15 years of experience in the insurance industry. He has held various senior management roles both in the insurance companies and insurance brokers during this span of time. He began his insurance career in 2004 as an office assistant at an agency in her hometown of Duluth, MN. He got licensed as a producer while working at that agency and progressed to serve as an office manager. Working in the agency is how he fell in love with the industry. He saw firsthand the good that insurance consumers experienced by having the proper protection. John has diverse experience in corporate & consumer insurance services, across a range of vocations. His specialties include Major Corporate risk management and insurance programs, and Financial Lines He has been instrumental in making his firm as one of the leading organizations in the country in generating sustainable rapid growth of the company while maintaining service excellence to clients.