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Health, Wealth & Life Insurance
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Related Life Insurance Products
Riders are modifications to the insurance policy added at the same time the policy is issued. These riders change the basic policy to provide some feature desired by the policy owner. A common rider is accidental death, which used to be commonly referred to as "double indemnity", which pays twice the amount of the policy face value if death results from accidental causes, as if both a full coverage policy and an accidental death policy were in effect on the insured. Another common rider is premium waiver, which waives future premiums if the insured becomes disabled.
Joint life: insurance is either a term or permanent policy insuring two or more lives with the proceeds payable on the first death or second death.
Survivorship life: is a whole life policy insuring two lives with the proceeds payable on the second (later) death.
Single premium whole life: is a policy with only one premium which is payable at the time the policy is issued.
Modified whole life: is a whole life policy that charges smaller premiums for a specified period of time after which the premiums increase for the remainder of the policy.
Group life insurance: is term insurance covering a group of people, usually employees of a company or members of a union or association. Individual proof of insurability is not normally a consideration in the underwriting. Rather, the underwriter considers the size and turnover of the group, and the financial strength of the group. Contract provisions will attempt to exclude the possibility of adverse selection. Group life insurance often has a provision that a member exiting the group has the right to buy individual insurance coverage.
Senior and preneed productS: Insurance companies have in recent years developed products to offer to niche markets, most notably targeting the senior market to address needs of an aging population. Many companies offer policies tailored to the needs of senior applicants. These are often low to moderate face value whole life insurance policies, to allow a senior citizen purchasing insurance at an older issue age an opportunity to buy affordable insurance. This may also be marketed as final expense insurance, and an agent or company may suggest (but not require) that the policy proceeds could be used for end-of-life expenses.
Preneed (or prepaid) insurance policies: are whole life policies that, although available at any age, are usually offered to older applicants as well. This type of insurance is designed specifically to cover funeral expenses when the insured person dies. In many cases, the applicant signs a prefunded funeral arrangement with a funeral home at the time the policy is applied for. The death proceeds are then guaranteed to be directed first to the funeral services provider for payment of services rendered. Most contracts dictate that any excess proceeds will go either to the insured's estate or a designated beneficiary.
Some policies allow the policyholder to participate in the profits of the insurance company these are with-profits policies. Other policies have no rights to participate in the profits of the company, these are non-profit policies.
With-profits policies are used as a form of collective investment to achieve capital growth. Other policies offer a guaranteed return not dependent on the company's underlying investment performance; these are often referred to as without-profit policies which may be construed as a misnomer.
Pensions: Pensions are a form of life assurance. However, whilst basic life assurance, permanent health insurance and non-pensions annuity business includes an amount of mortality or morbidity risk for the insurer, for pensions there is a longevity risk.
A pension fund will be built up throughout a person's working life. When the person retires, the pension will become in payment, and at some stage the pensioner will buy an annuity contract, which will guarantee a certain pay-out each month until death.
An annuity is a contract with an insurance company whereby the insured pays an initial premium or premiums into a tax-deferred account, which pays out a sum at pre-determined intervals. There are two periods: the accumulation (when payments are paid into the account) and the annuitization (when the insurance company pays out). IRS rules restrict how you take money out of an annuity. Distributions may be taxable and/or penalized.
Premiums paid by the policy owner are normally not deductible for federal and state income tax purposes.
Proceeds paid by the insurer upon death of the insured are not included in gross income for federal and state income tax purposes; however, if the proceeds are included in the "estate" of the deceased, it is likely they will be subject to federal and state estate and inheritance tax.
Cash value increases within the policy are not subject to income taxes unless certain events occur. For this reason, insurance policies can be a legal and legitimate tax shelter wherein savings can increase without taxation until the owner withdraws the money from the policy. On flexible-premium policies, large deposits of premium could cause the contract to be considered a "Modified Endowment Contract" by theInternal Revenue Service (IRS), which negates many of the tax advantages associated with life insurance. The insurance company, in most cases, will inform the policy owner of this danger before applying their premium.
Tax deferred benefit from a life insurance policy may be offset by its low return in some cases. This depends upon the insuring company, type of policy and other variables (mortality, market return, etc.). Also, other income tax saving vehicles (i.e. Individual Retirement Account (IRA),401K or Roth IRA) may be better alternatives for value accumulation. This will depend on the individual and their specific circumstances.
The tax ramifications of life insurance are complex. The policy owner would be well advised to carefully consider them. As always, the United States Congress or the state legislatures can change the tax laws at any time.
Premiums are not usually allowable against income tax or corporation tax, however qualifying policies issued prior to 14 March 1984 do still attract LAPR (Life Assurance Premium Relief) at 15% (with the net premium being collected from the policyholder).
Non-investment life policies do not normally attract either income tax or capital gains tax on claim. If the policy has as investment element such as an endowment policy, whole of life policy or an investment bond then the tax treatment is determined by the qualifying status of the policy.
Qualifying status is determined at the outset of the policy if the contract meets certain criteria. Essentially, long term contracts (10 years plus) tend to be qualifying policies and the proceeds are free from income tax and capital gains tax. Single premium contracts and those run for a short term are subject to income tax depending upon your marginal rate in the year you make a gain. All (UK) insurers pay a special rate ofcorporation tax on the profits from their life book; this is deemed as meeting the lower rate (20% in 2005-06) liability for policyholders. Therefore a policyholder who is a higher rate taxpayer (40% in 2005-06), or becomes one through the transaction, must pay tax on the gain at the difference between the higher and the lower rate. This gain is reduced by applying a calculation called top-slicing based on the number of years the policy has been held. Although this is complicated, the taxation of life assurance based investment contracts may be beneficial compared to alternative equity-based collective investment schemes (unit trusts, investment trusts and OEICs). One feature which especially favors investment bonds is the '5% cumulative allowance' – the ability to draw 5% of the original investment amount each policy year without being subject to any taxation on the amount withdrawn. If not used in one year, the 5% allowance can roll over into future years, subject to a maximum tax deferred withdrawal of 100% of the premiums payable. The withdrawal is deemed by the HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs) to be a payment of capital and therefore the tax liability is deferred until maturity or surrender of the policy. This is an especially useful tax planning tool for higher rate taxpayers who expect to become basic rate taxpayers at some predictable point in the future (e.g. retirement), as at this point the deferred tax liability will not result in tax being due.
The proceeds of a life policy will be included in the estate for death duty (in the UK, inheritance tax (IHT)) purposes, except that policies written in trust may fall outside the estate. Trust law and taxation of trusts can be complicated, so any individual intending to use trusts for tax planning would usually seek professional advice from an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) and/or a solicitor.
Although available before April 2006, from this date pension term assurance became widely available in the UK. Most UK product providers adopted the name "life insurance with tax relief" for the product. Pension term assurance is effectively normal term life assurance with tax relief on the premiums. All premiums are paid net of basic rate tax at 22%, and higher rate tax payers can gain an extra 18% tax relief via their tax return. Although not suitable for all, PTA briefly became one of the most common forms of life assurance sold in the UK until the Chancellor,Gordon Brown, announced the withdrawal of the scheme in his pre-budget announcement on 6 December 2006. The tax relief ceased to be available to new policies transacted after 6 December 2006, however, existing policies have been allowed to enjoy tax relief so far.
Insurance began as a way of reducing the risk of traders, as early as 5000 BC in China and 4500 BC in Babylon. Life insurance dates only to ancient Rome; "burial clubs" covered the cost of members' funeral expenses and helped survivors monetarily. Modern life insurance started in 17th century England, originally as insurance for traders : merchants, ship owners and underwriters met to discuss deals at Lloyd's Coffee House, predecessor to the famous Lloyd's of London.
The first insurance company in the United States was formed in Charleston, South Carolina in 1732, but it provided only fire insurance. The sale of life insurance in the U.S. began in the late 1760s. The Presbyterian Synods in Philadelphia and New York created the Corporation for Relief of Poor and Distressed Widows and Children of Presbyterian Ministers in 1759; Episcopalian priests organized a similar fund in 1769. Between 1787 and 1837 more than two dozen life insurance companies were started, but fewer than half a dozen survived.
Prior to the American Civil War, many insurance companies in the United States insured the lives of slaves for their owners. In response to bills passed in California in 2001 and in Illinois in 2003, the companies have been required to search their records for such policies. New York Life for example reported that Nautilus sold 485 slaveholder life insurance policies during a two-year period in the 1840s; they added that their trustees voted to end the sale of such policies 15 years before the Emancipation Proclamation.
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