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IUL Policy Loans: Could This Be Your Best Borrowing Strategy?

April 22, 2024
 min read
CEO, Capital for Life

IUL Policy Loans: Could This Be Your Best Borrowing Strategy?

Did you know that an index universal life insurance policy can be a source of ready cash when you need it? Life insurance policy loans offer a unique way to access funds, often with lower interest rates and without the need for credit checks. In this guide, we'll explain the details of life insurance policies and loans, their pros and cons, and how to tap into their potential.

Short Summary

  • What is a Life Insurance Policy Loan? - an overview of how a life insurance loan works
  • Powering your Loan with Stock Market Growth - how IUL can provide you with a loan
  • Pros and Cons of IUL Loans - benefits and disadvantages of cash value life insurance
  • How does a Life Insurance Loan Work? - the mechanics of the lending facility
  • Who Should Consider an IUL Policy Loan - from property purchases, to paying education fees and to borrowing money to fuel business growth, IUL's loans can be attractive alternative
  • Alternative Life Insurance Lending Strategies - premium financing life insurance to withdrawals or surrenders, there are different ways to get money out of your policy.
  • How to Apply for a Loan - quick overview of the steps to borrow money from your policy
  • Frequently Asked Questions Life - about life insurance loans

Let's get started.

What is a Life Insurance Policy Loan?

Definition: A life insurance policy loan, available with many cash-value permanent life insurance policies (like index universal life), lets you borrow against the accumulated cash value within your policy. The life insurance company lends you the money, using your policy as collateral. You can usually repay the loan on your schedule, but it must be repaid in full (with interest) upon death.

Understanding Life Insurance Loans

Life insurance loans let you borrow against the accumulated cash value of a permanent life insurance policy. They act like a secured loan, using the policy's cash value as collateral.  You won't face the credit checks or income verification common with traditional loans, making this a flexible option when you need funds quickly.

But how exactly do these loans work, and what should you consider before borrowing against your policy?

Understanding Cash Value

Think of your IUL insurance policy as a savings account within your protection plan.  As you pay premiums, a portion grows your cash value component over time. This same cash value component is the key to life insurance loans – it's not what you directly borrow against, but rather the guarantee for the insurance company's loan.

Important Note: The amount of cash value needed to qualify for a loan depends on your specific insurance company.  They'll have a minimum amount that must be built up before you can use this option.

So, how exactly does this cash value grow? That's where your index universal life insurance policy gets interesting, and we'll dive into that next.

How IUL Growth Powers Your Borrowing Potential

The unique way your Index Universal Life (IUL) policy builds cash value is what makes life insurance loans possible – and potentially advantageous. Let's break it down:

  • Market-Linked Potential: Your cash value growth is tied to a market index. When the index performs well, your cash value can grow too. The more it grows, the larger the amount you can borrow against as your policy's collateral increases.
  • Participation Rates Matter: While the cash value doesn't perfectly mimic the index, the participation rate determines how much of the index's gains are applied to your account. A higher participation rate means faster potential growth and potentially greater borrowing capacity.
  • Protection in Downturns: The guaranteed minimum rate ensures that your cash value will never lose value due to poor market performance. This protects your collateral and, in turn, the amount you might be eligible to borrow against.
  • The Impact of Fees: Don't forget that fees can eat into your cash value growth. The lower the fees associated with your IUL, the more of your premiums go towards building the value you can potentially leverage for a loan.

Key Takeaways for Loans

  • Bigger cash value, bigger potential loan: How much cash value you have depends upon how much you can borrow. The more your IUL's cash value grows, the more you can borrow against it.
  • Know your numbers: Understanding your participation rate and fees helps you predict how much borrowing power you might have in the future.
  • Stock Market dips are less risky: Even if the market declines, you can still get a loan. However, a lower cash value might mean you qualify for less.

Understanding how your IUL's cash value grows is crucial for making the most of policy loans.  While these loans offer unique advantages, you should compare them against potential drawbacks. Let's break down the pros and cons to help you decide if this is the right choice for you.

Pros and Cons of IUL Policy Loans

Life insurance policy loans offer several advantages, but it's important to also consider the downsides. Let's dive into the benefits and drawbacks:


  • Lower Interest Rates: Relatively low-interest rates compared to traditional loans like lines of credit or credit cards. Your policy's returns plus a margin determine the rate, potentially saving you money.
  • No Credit Check or Income Verification: Since your policy's cash value secures the loan, creditworthiness isn't a factor. This opens access to people with less-than-perfect credit.
  • Flexible Repayment Options: Choose lump sum repayment, regular interest payments, or (within limits) even defer payment altogether. Unpaid loans will reduce the death benefit.


  • Reduced Death Benefit: Loans and accumulated interest are deducted from the payout beneficiaries receive. Carefully assess any impact on your financial planning for them.
  • Policy Lapse Risk: If the loan and interest outgrow the cash value, the policy could lapse, terminating coverage. Monitor your balance and seek advice if concerned.
  • Potential Tax Consequences: Loans might trigger income tax in some jurisdictions, and taxes may apply if the policy lapses with an outstanding balance. Always consult a tax professional for advice specific to your situation.

Should You Consider an IUL Policy Loan?

IUL policy loans can be a versatile tool in various financial situations. Here's when a whole life insurance policy loan can work:

Short-term Needs:

  • Unexpected expenses (medical bills, home repairs, etc.) where quick access to cash is crucial, especially without credit like a personal loan.
  • Temporary cash flow issues for those with upcoming income (seasonal business, delayed bonus).
  • Time-sensitive investment opportunities where traditional financing is too slow.
  • High-interest debt consolidation, leveraging the relatively low-interest rates of cash value life insurance.

Strategic Financial Moves:

  • Funding educational expenses for yourself or your children is potentially more cost-effective than other types of loans.
  • Increasing retirement income Policy withdrawals are available in most ULI policies. But try and use a life insurer that allows withdrawals these without reducing the death benefit amount.
  • Property Purchases: A policy loan can help with a down payment or bridge a financing gap and is an alternative to home equity loans.
  • Business Loans: Cash value life insurance can provide working capital, especially when a traditional bank loan or personal loan is difficult to secure.

Important: Policy loans are not 'free money'. Like other loans, they should be part of a well-considered financial strategy.

Guidance: If you are unsure, discuss your situation with a financial advisor and your life insurance agent to determine if an IUL policy loan aligns with your needs and goals.

Alternatives to a Life Insurance Policy Loan

While a life insurance loan can be advantageous, there are alternative ways to access your life insurance policy loan amount's accumulated cash value. It's essential to weigh these options carefully before making a decision.

  • Premium Financing Loans: This involves borrowing money from a third-party lender like a bank, using your life insurance cash value as collateral. Premium financing can be a complex option, with some key considerations:
    • Potential for fluctuating interest rates over time, increasing your repayment costs.
    • Risk of the policy underperforming, which could reduce its value as collateral.
    • Potential the lender recalls the loan after its initial term, forcing you to find new financing.
  • Policy Withdrawals: Withdrawing your policy's cash value avoids using a policy loan. Important factors include:
    • Withdrawals reduce the death benefit for your beneficiaries.
    • Some policies offer a 'free withdrawal' option up to a certain percentage of the cash value, preserving the full death benefit.
    • Excessive withdrawals can cause the policy to lapse, leaving you without coverage.
  • Policy Surrender: This means cancelling your policy entirely in exchange for its cash surrender value (typically less than the death benefit, minus fees). While providing a lump sum, keep in mind:
    • You permanently lose your life insurance coverage.
    • Surrender fees and potential tax implications need careful consideration.

Steps to Apply for an IUL Policy Loan

Taking out an IUL policy loan is relatively straightforward. Here's the approval process:

  1. Contact and Consult: Start by contacting your insurance agent or financial advisor. They can:
    • Explain your specific loan options, interest rates, and repayment terms.
    • Discuss any fees associated with the process.
    • Help you understand the impact on your death benefit and potential tax implications.
  2. Verify Eligibility: Ensure two things:
    • Your policy includes a loan provision.
    • You've accumulated enough cash value to borrow the amount you need.
  3. Review Terms Thoroughly: Examine your policy contract for:
    • Interest rates
    • Maximum and minimum loan amounts
    • Administrative fees
  4. Determine Loan Amount: Carefully calculate how much to borrow, ensuring it's within the allowed limits.
  5. Seek Tax Advice (if needed): While policy loans are generally not taxable, consult a tax advisor if there's any chance exceeding the cash value could trigger a lapse.
  6. Apply and Sign:
    • Complete your insurer's loan application form.
    • Review and sign the loan agreement, ensuring you understand the interest rate, repayment schedule, and any fees.
  7. Receive Funds: Once approved, the loan amount will typically be deposited into the account used for premium payments.

Important Note: The specific application process and timeline might vary slightly between life insurance companies. Your agent can guide you through any unique requirements.

Taking out a policy loan is just the first step.  Responsible management is essential to ensure it aligns with your long-term financial goals.  Let's discuss how to actively  monitor your loan and protect your policy's value:

Monitoring Your Life Insurance Loan: Protecting Your Policy

Once your loan is in place, proactive monitoring is key to ensure your financial goals and life insurance coverage stay on track. Here's how:

1. Manage Loan Repayments

  • Track Interest: Monitor interest accrual. Many insurers offer online access or regular statements.
  • Understand Repayment Options: Even if you choose flexible repayment, be aware of your options and any deadlines. Ask your agent for clarity.

2. Monitor Your Policy's Health

  • Request Annual Illustrations: These show your loan balance, cash value, and how they impact your death benefit over time.
  • Watch the Balance: Ensure the loan amount (plus interest) doesn't get too close to the cash value to avoid lapse risk.

3. Keep an Eye on Interest Rates

  • Why it Matters: Rising rates can rapidly increase your loan balance. Your policy documents will outline how the loan interest rate is determined.
  • Stay Informed: Discuss market trends with your financial advisor to assess your risk.
  • Adapt and Adjust: If rates rise significantly, consider increasing repayments to keep your policy safe.


In conclusion, IUL policy loans can be a powerful tool for high-net-worth individuals seeking flexible access to funds. With potentially lower interest rates, no credit checks, and adaptable repayment options, they offer advantages over traditional loans for various financial needs. Before proceeding, it's essential to consider the potential impact on your policy's death benefit and you should compare other borrowing options. However, if done carefully, strategically borrowing from your IUL policy can unlock its value for present goals while safeguarding its long-term benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Understanding IUL Policy Loans

Q: What is an IUL policy loan and how does it work?

A: An Indexed Universal Life (IUL) policy loan lets you borrow against the cash value you've built up within your policy. The maximum loan amount depends on your accumulated cash value. The key advantage is that policy loans offer easy access to cash when you need it.

Q. How Much Can I Borrow from My Index Universal Life Insurance Policy?

A. The amount you can borrow depends on your policy's accumulated cash value. Typically, you can borrow up to 90% of this value with an index universal life insurance policy. However, it's essential to remember that enough cash value must remain to cover policy fees and ensure your life insurance stays in force. Also, be mindful of loan interest rates which will increase the total amount you repay. Your specific insurer may have slightly different percentage limits or additional terms.

Q. How Soon Can I Borrow from My Index Universal Life Insurance Policy?

A. You can typically take a loan against your index universal life insurance policy's cash value as soon as it exceeds your insurer's minimum requirement. It's crucial to ensure the loan amount leaves enough cash value to maintain your life insurance coverage and cover fees. Minimum cash value thresholds vary, so contact your own life insurance company or agent for personalised guidance. Also remember, existing loans and interest will affect how much you can currently take access cash for.

Q: How are interest rates determined for IUL policy loans?

A: Interest rates on IUL policy loans are set by your insurance company and outlined in your policy. These rates can be either fixed (unchanging) or variable (tied to market conditions). It's important to compare the loan interest rates across different insurers before taking out an IUL policy. Also, be aware that even fixed rates may have limits, so check your policy carefully for possible adjustments in the future.

Q: Do I have to repay an IUL policy loan? What are the consequences of not repaying?

A: You are not required to repay an IUL policy loan. However, choosing not to pay interest or repay can have severe consequences for your policy:

Reduced Death Benefit: Any outstanding loan balance, plus the annual interest due, will be deducted from the death benefit your beneficiaries receive.

Reduced Cash Value: The loan reduces your available cash value, impacting the policy's growth potential.

Risk of Lapse: If the loan and interest exceed your cash value, your policy could lapse, leaving you with no coverage.

It's generally recommended to repay your IUL policy loan to protect your policy's value and the death benefit for your beneficiaries.

Q: Can I borrow against the death benefit of my life insurance policy?

A: No. Life insurance policy loans are taken against your policy's accumulated cash value, not the death benefit. Cash value is the portion of your premiums paid that builds up over time and can be borrowed against (available in whole life, universal life, and similar policies). The death benefit is the payout your beneficiaries receive upon your death and isn't accessible for loans while you're alive. Think of the cash value as your available funds within the policy, whereas the death benefit is the core purpose of the life insurance itself.

Q: Are loans from my IUL policy taxable?

A: Typically, IUL policy loans are not taxable income, while your policy is active. However, there's a crucial exception: if your policy lapses or you surrender it with an outstanding loan balance, you may face taxes on any amount exceeding the premiums you've paid into the policy.

Q: How quickly can I get a loan from my IUL policy?

A: The timeline for taking an IUL policy loan depends on two factors:

Your policy's rules: Each policy has specific terms. Some may have waiting periods (e.g., a few years) or require a certain minimum cash value before you can borrow money.

Your accumulated cash value: You need sufficient cash value built up in your policy to use your cash value as collateral for the loan.

Check your IUL policy documents or contact your life insurance advisor for the exact requirements that apply to you.

Q: Will my IUL cash value still grow after taking a policy loan?

A: Yes, the portion of your cash value that's not used as loan collateral will continue to earn interest payments according to your policy's terms. However, here's what's important to understand:

The loaned amount: Money you've borrowed typically won't benefit from any index-linked returns.

Potential impact: This could reduce the overall growth potential of your IUL policy.

Key takeaway: Before taking a policy loan, weigh the benefits of accessing cash against the potential slowdown in your cash value's growth.

Q: Can I always get a loan from my IUL policy?

A: In most cases, yes. IUL policy loans provide immediate funds, but there are important factors to consider:

Policy terms: Your specific policy will outline any eligibility rules or waiting periods.

Sufficient cash value: You need enough accumulated cash value to borrow against.

Timely repayment: While loans are available, it's crucial to repay them to avoid negative consequences for your policy.

Q: Do I have flexible repayment options for my IUL policy loan?

A: Yes! Most IUL policies allow you to repay your loan on your own schedule. Here's what this means:

Repay in full: Pay the entire loan balance off at once.

Make partial payments: Pay off the loan gradually, paying interest over time.

Q: How much can I borrow from my IUL policy?

A: The maximum you can borrow depends on the cash value you've accumulated in your policy. Here's what you need to keep in mind:

Percentage-based limit: Insurance companies usually set the limit as a percentage of your cash value (this percentage may differ between insurers).

Cash value: As your cash value grows, your borrowing potential typically increases.

Q: Why would I take a loan from my IUL policy?

A: IUL policy loans offer several key advantages:

No credit checks: Your last credit check and history won't impact your eligibility.

Potential tax benefits: Loans are typically tax-free as long as your policy remains active (consult a tax advisor for specifics).

Easy cash access: Get funds quickly when needed, without lengthy applications.

Flexible repayment: Often, you can repay on your own schedule, in full or in instalments.

Q: Are there any restrictions on how I can use an IUL policy loan?

A: No. One of the major benefits of IUL policy loans is the freedom they offer. You can use the funds for any purpose, such as:

Unexpected expenses: Cover emergencies or sudden financial needs.

Business opportunities: Invest in a business venture.

Property down payment: Borrow money for a property purchase.

Debt consolidation: Pay off high-interest debt.

Q: How fast can I get money from an IUL policy loan?

A: The processing time depends on your insurance company, but you can often expect the funds within a few days to a few weeks. This timeline can vary because each insurance company has its own procedures, and larger loans may take slightly longer to process. For the most accurate timeline for your specific policy and loan request, it's best to contact your insurance advisor.

Unlock your financial potential with Capital for Life – a trusted life insurance loan broker specialising in Index Universal Life (IUL) policy loans for high-net-worth individuals and business owners in over 200 countries. We focus on maximising the value of IUL policies to fuel your financial goals. Financial advisors, tax advisors, lawyers, wealth managers, trust companies, and private banks use our expertise in IUL policy loans to advise their high-net-worth clients. Elevate your financial strategy with our expert advice on leveraging IUL policy loans. Contact us today to discuss how Capital for Life can help you unlock the potential of your IUL policy.


This article is authored by Carlton Crabbe, Chief Executive Officer of Capital for Life, a specialist in providing indexed universal life insurance loans. The information provided in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial or investment advice. While the author possesses expertise in the subject matter, readers are advised to consult with a qualified financial advisor before making investment decisions or purchasing insurance products.

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