Universal Life Insurance
Universal life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance based on a cash value. That is, the policy is established with the insurer where premium payments above the cost of insurance are credited to the cash value of the policy. The cash value is credited each month with interest, and the policy is debited each month by a cost of insurance (COI) charge, as well as any other policy charges and fees which are drawn from the cash value if no premium payment is made that month. The interest credited to the account is determined by the insurer; sometimes it is pegged to a financial index such as a bond or other interest rate index. Universal life is similar in some ways to, and was developed from whole life insurance. The advantage of the universal life policy is its premium flexibility and adjustable death benefits. The death benefit can be increased (subject to insurability), or decreased at the policy owner's request.
The premiums are flexible, from a minimum amount specified in the policy, to the maximum amount allowed by the contract. The primary difference is that the universal life policy shifts some of the risk for maintaining the death benefit to the policy owner. In a whole life policy, as long as every premium payment is made, the death benefit is guaranteed to the maturity date in the policy, usually age 95 to age 121. A UL policy will lapse when the cash values are no longer sufficient to cover the cost of insurance and policy administrative expenses.