In the USA, “cash value” refers to a component found in certain types of permanent life insurance policies, such as whole life insurance and universal life insurance. Cash value is a savings or investment feature that grows over time as the policyholder pays premiums. It serves as a type of savings account within the insurance policy and can be accessed by the policyholder through loans or withdrawals.
Here’s how cash value works:
1. Permanent Life Insurance Policies: Permanent life insurance policies, as opposed to term life insurance policies, provide coverage for the policyholder’s entire life as long as premiums are paid. These policies also have a cash value component.
2. Premium Allocation: When a policyholder pays premiums for a permanent life insurance policy, a portion of the premium goes towards covering the cost of insurance and administrative expenses, while the remaining portion is allocated to the cash value.
3. Tax-Deferred Growth: The cash value component grows on a tax-deferred basis, meaning that the growth is not subject to income taxes as long as it remains within the policy. This tax advantage can help the cash value accumulate more quickly over time.
4. Policy Loans: Policyholders can borrow against the cash value of their policy through policy loans. These loans are typically offered at competitive interest rates and do not require credit checks. The policyholder can use the borrowed funds for any purpose.
5. Withdrawals: Policyholders can also make partial withdrawals from the cash value. Withdrawals are tax-free up to the amount of premiums paid into the policy. Withdrawals beyond that amount are typically subject to income tax.
6. Surrender Value: If the policyholder decides to surrender or cancel the policy, they can receive the cash value as a lump-sum payment, subject to surrender charges and taxes on any gains.
7. Policy Growth: Over time, the cash value grows due to the accumulation of premiums and any earnings from the underlying investments. The cash value can be used to offset premium payments, which can potentially lead to a policy becoming self-sustaining in terms of premium payments.
8. Policy Loans and Repayment: Policy loans do not require immediate repayment. However, any outstanding loans and accrued interest will be deducted from the death benefit if the policyholder passes away before repaying the loans.
Cash value provides a unique feature for permanent life insurance policies, offering policyholders the ability to access funds while maintaining their life insurance coverage. The growth of the cash value depends on the performance of the underlying investments chosen by the policyholder. It’s important to carefully review the terms, costs, and benefits of the cash value component before purchasing a permanent life insurance policy to ensure it aligns with your financial goals and needs.