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Insurance Policy Loan War Stories

April 24th, 2020 No comments

Why it makes sense to understand what’s going on when refinancing.

After writing a few pieces on loan refinancing, I’ll now share some examples. Over the years, I’ve seen many situations in which policies have significant loans. These include whole life (WL) policies, universal life (UL) policies and others. Some are modest, and the policies can handle the loan, while others are overwhelming and will drive the policies into the ground. Some have reasonable rescue strategies, and others are all but loss causes.

These situations often involve a lack of understanding about how the policies fundamentally work, how loans affect the contracts and how to manage the policies over time. In some situations, the initially chosen policy management features, which have caused the problems to escalate over time, have never been changed. Sometimes I’ve been able to simply make a dividend option change, and a failing policy can be self rescued with the trajectory of the cash value, loan and death benefit reversing itself over time. For example, when a policy has an 8% loan interest rate in today’s market, why would a dividend option be set to buy additional paid up insurance while ongoing premiums are added to the loan and loan interest accrues? Again, it’s a lack of understanding and too often an abandonment of the policy owner by the agent. What may have been true a number of years ago may not be true today given the meaningful changes in the financial marketplace and policy crediting. Policy management is an ongoing responsibility. For full post, click here…

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A Different Kind of Premium Financing

March 18th, 2020 No comments

Concentrate on the spread between borrowing rates and opportunity cost of money.

In certain markets, premium financing is all the rage and has been for some time.  The basic pitch is that wealthy, sophisticated clients should borrow money at low rates to buy life insurance and let their money grow at a higher rate and over a number of years. The results of this spread or arbitrage can pay back the loan so they’re not out of pocket for the entire cost of the life insurance.

This is perfectly legitimate, but I also believe there’s right way and a wrong way to do it.  I’m not a fan of much of what I see in the market because I feel, or have proof in many situations, that it’s based on misrepresentation and a severe lack of understanding.  The disasters that end up on my desk are almost all based on the perceived spread between borrowing rates and life insurance policy crediting.  Unfortunately, in too many situations, this isn’t real or sustainable, and few consumers and advisors understand how it really works and the risks involved.

The real opportunity with premium financing is on the spread between borrowing rates and opportunity cost of money rather than the policy crediting.  It’s the same reason I don’t pay off my home mortgage.  If I’ve borrowed at 3.5% to buy my house,  I believe I can do better than that over time in the market and I understand and accept the risks and have the wherewithal to deal with the results if things change, why would I pay down my mortgage any faster than I have to? For full post, click here…

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Life Insurance and Policy Loans

March 4th, 2020 No comments

Bill Boersma, Jason Kurchner | Mar 04, 2020

A match definitely not made in heaven.

As a life insurance consultant, I see just about everything imaginable out there. My desk is littered with cases for which I’ve been called in to pick up the pieces after the wheels fall off. In fact, litigation support and expert witness work is the fastest growing part of my practice. There’s a lot of good work, but there are also a tremendous amount of lousy plans. Advisors are regularly bringing me their client’s non-performing policies and structures and I like to use these real life cases to educate as many advisors as possible.

I urge the advisor community to address these issues before clients are dissatisfied and angry. Proactive action can prevent problems and save a ton of money. There’s a common problem that few are aware of that has an obvious and simple solution.

Large Policy Loans

There are a handful of current files on my desk with large policy loans. The loans on these policies range from $500,000 to $3 million. In some of these contracts, money was actively borrowed out, and in some, the loans are a result of borrowing premiums to fund the policy. In others, the policy owners didn’t even know a loan existed. Imagine the shock when they learned this. For full post, click here…

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An Unfortunate Conversation Regarding a Life Insurance Policy Loan

February 12th, 2020 No comments

What your client doesn’t know certainly can hurt him

Life insurance policy loans trip up more people than I thought could ever be possible.  It’s not because they’re so complicated but because they aren’t properly explained to most policy owners.  Worse yet, many policy owners don’t even know they have loans on a policy and when they do, don’t understand how they got there.  This sounds so ridiculous it defies belief.

Consider this: A policy owner recently called me after his attorney sent him a copy of something I’d written about policy loans.  “This story could be about me.” he exclaimed.  I asked him to send me what he had and explain what he was trying to accomplish.  Included was a list of questions he had for his agent, of which the agent answered the simple and inconsequential ones and ignored the balance.  It was easy to understand why, as the balance of the questions had no answer that any agent would want to share with a client.

Here was one of the questions: “When I first talked to you years ago, you indicated that I could borrow my own funds at a 1% to 1 1/2% interest rate, so how did the loan get to over $700,000 when I only borrowed about $175,000 and paid back $225,000 at one point.”  I imagine that would be a good question.

It’s fortunate but sad that I knew the answer before I opened the attachments because this isn’t the first or last time I’ll see this.  I’ll recreate the conversation: For full post, click here…

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WSJ Article: It’s the Hottest Thing in Life Insurance. Are Buyers Aware of the Risks?

January 7th, 2020 No comments
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Bloomberg – What the Non-Insurance Advisor Needs to Understand to About Indexed Universal Life Insurance by Bill Boersma & Henry Montag

November 13th, 2019 No comments

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Whole Life Dividend Options and Policy Management

October 9th, 2019 No comments

Manage policies in your clients’ best interests.

Even though whole life (WL) insurance is one of the most traditional forms of life insurance, there’s an abundance of misunderstanding regarding how it works and the available dividend options. For the purposes of this piece, I’m referring to actual WL, not just permanent, cash value life insurance that many consumers generically refer to as WL. Universal life, indexed universal life, variable universal life and guaranteed universal life aren’t to be confused with WL.

Additionally, I’ll be referring to classic dividend paying WL, often referred to as “participating (par)” WL. It’s important to understand WL dividend options so you can make sure the policy is managed in the client’s best interest. Because I see so many problem policies, I understand why they’ve become problems; lack of understanding and lack of management. For full post, click here…

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Life Insurance: Told vs. Sold: Part 3

October 2nd, 2019 No comments

What policyowners are actually buying isn’t always necessarily what they think.

Part 2 of this series dug a bit deeper into the details of whole life and premium financing as it pertains to what policyowners are presented and what’s reality.

After highlighting the facts and figures that show this doesn’t really work as presented, I get the response “But Bill, that’s why we have the client pay loan interest out of pocket. It makes the program more conservative.” Frankly, that’s true, but how does that help relative to the misrepresentations I regularly see? All it does, it makes the policy look like it’s working on arbitrage, allow it to pay its loan off and keeps the collateral requirements lower. It doesn’t actually change the important dynamics of the transaction. If you add a couple hundred bucks to your mortgage payment every month, it’ll be paid off earlier, but it doesn’t change the deal. Putting more money down on a real estate transaction doesn’t improve the return on the property. The return is the return. Extra money down may make it less risky, but it absolutely doesn’t change the return. For full post, click here…

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Hybrid Life Insurance and Pension Protection Act 2006

September 30th, 2019 No comments

 

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What CPAs should understand about premium financing By Bill Boersma and Henry Montag

September 19th, 2019 No comments

Premium financing has been around for many years but it became more popular when LIBOR rates plummeted after the recession and perceived crediting rates on indexed universal life (IUL) insurance and whole life policies were relatively high.

Originally, the concept of premium financing was not much different than why one might not pay off a home mortgage, even when the money is available. If one thought that money deployed elsewhere would be more productive than paying down a mortgage, then why not do so? If I’m confident I can make more in the market or my business, financially it would be silly to pay down my mortgage any faster than necessary. Read More…

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