A type of life insurance that combines a death benefit with a savings element that accumulates tax deferred at current interest rates, subject to change, but with a guaranteed minimum. Under a universal life insurance policy, the policyholder can increase or decrease his or her coverage, with limitations, without purchasing a new policy. Universal life is also referred to as “flexible premium” life insurance. Access to cash values through borrowing or partial surrenders can reduce the policy’s cash value and death benefit, increase the chance that the policy will lapse, and may result in a tax liability if the policy terminates before the death of the insured. Policy loans or withdrawals will reduce the policy’s cash value and death benefit. Additional out-of-pocket payments may be needed if actual dividends or investment returns decrease, if you withdraw policy values, if you take out a loan, or if current charges increase. There may be surrender charges at the time of surrender or withdrawal and are taxable if you withdraw more than your basis in the policy. Any guarantees are contingent on the claims-paying ability of the issuing company. The cost and availability of life insurance depend on factors such as age, health, and the type and amount of insurance purchased.
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