Universal Life Nonforfeiture Options

Key Takeaway

There are three main types of nonforfeiture options: cash surrender value, extended-term, and paid-up. Each of these options may impact your final death benefit, because they are usually tied to your cash value account on your universal life insurance policy. In permanent life insurance products, like universal life insurance, you may already have a nonforfeiture clause included in your policy.

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Nonforfeiture Clauses: What Are They?

Anyone seeking education about indexed universal life insurance or other universal life insurance products may want to look into nonforfeiture options. Unlike weighing the differences between index universal life insurance versus variable life insurance, nonforfeiture options are a clause that can be added to a policy.

These clauses stipulate that an insured party may be able to receive full or partial benefits‒or even a partial refund of premiums‒after a lapse due to nonpayment.

How The Clauses Work

When a policyowner surrenders their policy, they have a few nonforfeiture options: cash surrender value, extended-term, and paid-up. The insurance company typically guarantees a minimum cash value for the insurance policy after a specific period.

Usually, there aren’t any guarantees for the minimum amount of life insurance available in universal policies. This allows for variable investing, which can mean that the amount of reduced paid-up or extended-term insurance could decrease if the policyholder’s subaccount performance declines or the credited interest rates are low.

The Nonforfeiture Payout Options

In most permanent life insurance policies, policyholders won’t lose their life insurance if they are unable to pay their premiums within the specified grace period. Instead, they can utilize their accumulated cash value with the following nonforfeiture options below:

Cash Surrender Value

In a cash surrender value option, the insurer generally pays the remaining cash value within six months of the policyholder terminating the policy. The cash surrender value will usually apply to the savings element of whole life insurance policies payable before death.

So, what is a cash surrender value? A cash surrender value is the accumulated portion of a permanent life insurance policy’s cash value that is available to the policyholder at the time of the surrender of the policy. 

This means that, depending on the age of the policy, the cash surrender value could be less than the actual cash value. If you terminate your policy in the early years after its effective, your insurance company may deduct fees upon cash surrender. 

Extended-Term Option

An extended-term option allows policyholders to use the cash value account to purchase an additional term insurance product with a death benefit that is an equal amount to the original universal life policy. This new term policy ends the same way a traditional term policy would, after a fixed number of years that are detailed in the policy’s nonforfeiture table.

In this type of option, policyholders can stop paying the premiums but cannot forfeit the equity of their policy. The cash value amount you have built into your policy will likely be reduced by the amount of loans‒if applicable‒against your life insurance.

Paid-Up Insurance

Paid-up insurance nonforfeiture options allow policyholders to use their cash surrender value to buy a paid-up version of the same type of life insurance product. This usually results in the policyholder no longer having to make premium payments.

However, this option can have important factors to consider. With paid-up nonforfeiture options, the policyholder may reduce the death benefit by surrendering a portion of the cash value. The policy could still retain that cash value component, but its growth could be reduced. The sooner you get started on your life insurance journey, the more your cash value accounts could grow, increasing your death benefit payout.

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The information above is for educational use only and does not represent insurance, tax or legal advice. It is not a recommendation or solicitation to buy insurance. Please talk to your licensed insurance agent for more information about life insurance and your needs. Please consult with the appropriate professional for tax or legal advice. Guarantees are backed by the claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

Article Author: Meredith Bell
Author Bio: Meredith joined Everly in 2022 and has 20+ years of experience in the life insurance industry. She has held various roles in advertising, marketing, communications, sales and distribution support, and product development. Outside of the office, Meredith lives with her daughter Kennedy and their dog Mavis. Meredith enjoys cooking, camping, gardening, hiking, and bourbon (though not always at the same time). She is a live music enthusiast and an avid reader. Her favorite quote is by Thomas Jefferson: "I cannot live without books." Meredith agrees, but would add cheese, movies, and dogs to that list.

Policies are issued by Everly Life Insurance Company (“Everly Life”), Topeka, KS. Everly Life is not licensed in the state of New York and does not solicit or transact business in New York.

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