Billions of dollars of life insurance cash values may be in big trouble, and most consumers don't know it because they don't check their policies like they do their stocks and bonds.
Most owners of cash value life insurance polices don't really understand what effect low interest rates have had on their policies, according to the top insurance consultants at Herz Financial.
"Customers may be losing money with a policy that was once valuable, but now with the extended drop in interest rates, it may be on a collision course to self-destruct and become worthless," said Matthew Herz, one of the country's most successful financial advisors. "Many policies were purchased based on interest rate assumptions of 8-12%, and that is just not the case anymore with rates as low as 3% at some companies."
The problem is compounded when consumers fail to review their policies. Consumers don't know what to ask and the insurance companies are not very user friendly. "To make matters worse, some insurance companies often provide vague statements and policy information, and as a result their customers are generally unaware of important policy changes including cash values, interest rates, and death benefit charges."
A complete policy analysis will highlight any deficiencies in a policy, much like a stress test would show blockage of your arteries. Just like with heart disease, some solutions are simple, like medications, while others require surgery. One simple solution is to deposit more money into your current policy. Unfortunately many policies require a complete overhaul in order to protect their future value. This typically involves what is called a 1035 exchange, which basically means transferring remaining funds from a poor performing policy to a new better one.
According to Herz, "Even if you're not in perfect health, your policy can be dramatically improved." Many of Herz's wealthiest clients have taken advantage of solutions to maximize their policies' ultimate value and guarantees.