Selling Term Life Insurance Policies

Discover how you can get a lump sum of money by selling your term life insurance policy, especially if you have a terminal illness or a financial emergency.
Term Life Insurance

Selling Term Life Insurance Policy: What You Need to Know

Elderly Couple hugging in a park

What is Term Life Insurance?

Term life insurance is a type of life insurance that covers you for a set amount of time, usually between 5 and 30 years. It’s thought to be the easiest and least expensive way to get life insurance. Term life insurance doesn’t build cash value over time like whole life insurance does. It only pays out a death benefit if the insured passes away during the policy’s term.

To the contrary, a whole life plan is a type of fixed life insurance that covers the client for their whole life. It has a cash value part that grows tax-free over time and can be borrowed against or taken while the insured is still living.

It is possible to sell a term life insurance policy, but you should think about the situations in which this might be a good idea. For example, if you no longer need the coverage or can’t keep paying the fees, you might be able to sell your insurance to get some extra cash in a tough spot. 

It is important to keep in mind, though, that term life plans cost a lot more than they’re worth because of the loss of the policyholder. They also don’t give you cash value that you can keep. If you want to lower your life insurance costs, you should either lower the death payout or cancel the policy instead of selling it. 

Understanding Viatical Settlements

Definition of Viatical Settlements

Someone who is very sick, has a terminal illness, or is nearing the end of their life agrees to sell their life insurance policy for cash at a price less than what it’s worth. This is called a viatical settlement. An individual who purchases a viatical settlement gives the seller a large sum of money and settles all outstanding life insurance fees. Within a viatical settlement, the rate of return on the investment is unknown and relies on the seller’s death. 

Dealing with this might be dangerous. In a life settlement, the person selling their life insurance is likely to live longer than two years, which is different from a death settlement. 

Benefits for Sellers

Viatical payments can be a good choice for people who have poor health, chronically or terminally sick and need money to pay for medical bills or other hard times financially. Some people get money when they sell their life insurance policy. This money can be used however they need it. 

Reasons for Selling a Term Life Insurance Policy

  • Terminal Illness: Immediate financial needs due to medical expenses.
  • Financial Emergencies: Sudden financial crises that require a lump sum of cash or can’t longer afford a premium amount.
  • Policy Expiry: As term policies have an expiration date, selling can be a way to obtain value before it lapses, especially if converting to a whole life policy isn’t viable. 
Elderly couple walking with their arms linked while laughing

The Process of Selling a Term Life Policy

The process of selling your term life policy involves several steps and can be quite complex. It starts with the decision to sell, followed by an assessment of your policy’s value, receiving offers, choosing a buyer, and finally closing the sale. Each step requires careful consideration and understanding. 

Life insurance companies sell term life insurance and provide a death benefit if the insured dies. Insurance firms underwrite, determine premiums, and pay death benefits for term life insurance. Selling your insurance requires finding a buyer and negotiating a fair price. The buyer will pay the future premiums to the insurance carrier and get the death benefit once you die.

Can I Sell My Life Insurance Policy?

Yes, you can sell your life insurance. It is possible to sell a term life policy for cash through a process known as a life settlement. Life settlement providers buy policies from policyholders, providing them with an amount of cash in exchange for the ownership and beneficiary rights of the policy.

How to sell your term life insurance policy for Cash?

To sell your term life insurance policy, you need to find a buyer who is willing to pay more than the policy’s surrender value offered by your insurer. You can work with a life settlement broker or use an online marketplace to find potential buyers. Once you have found a buyer, you will need to complete an application and provide medical records and other documentation. The buyer will then assess the value of your policy and make an offer. If you accept the offer, you will receive a lump sum payment and transfer ownership of your policy to the buyer.

Elderly couple looking over paperwork with an insurance agent

Eligibility Criteria

When it comes to selling a term life insurance policy, certain eligibility criteria must be met. These can vary depending on the life settlement firm or broker, but typically include: 

  1. Age and Health Status: Most life settlement companies require the policyholder to be at least 65 years old, although this age limit may be lower for those with serious health issues. The reason for this is that life settlements are typically more valuable when the insured’s life expectancy is shorter.
  2. Policy Type: While it’s possible to sell a term life policy, it generally needs to be convertible into a permanent policy, such as whole or universal life. This is because term policies only provide coverage for a certain period, while permanent policies provide lifelong coverage and often have a cash value component.
  3. Policy Size: There’s usually a minimum policy size for life settlements. This minimum can vary, but it’s often around $100,000 in death benefits.
  4. Policy Age: Some life settlement companies require the policy to be at least two years old due to the contestability period that most policies have. During the first two years of a policy, insurance companies can contest or deny a claim for certain reasons, such as misrepresentation on the application.
  5. Premium Payments: The policyholder must be up-to-date on all premium payments. If not, the policy may have lapsed, which could disqualify it from a life settlement. 

Remember, meeting these criteria doesn’t guarantee that a term life insurance policy can be sold. The life settlement firm will also consider other factors, such as the insured’s medical history and the terms of the policy, to determine if a life settlement is feasible and how much they’re willing to offer for the policy. 

Engaging a Viatical Life Settlement Company

Working with a Viatical Life Settlement Company involves a detailed process that needs careful thought and understanding. These companies play a key role in giving immediate cash to a life insurance policyholder in return for their policy. 

Determining the Policy’s Worth 

The first step for the viatical settlement firm is to figure out how much the policy is worth. They look at factors like the policy’s face value, the premiums that are due, the health of the insured person, and how long they’re expected to live. The company also checks what type of insurance policy it is (term or permanent) and whether it can be converted. 

Making a Settlement Offer 

Once they know the policy’s worth, the viatical life settlement firm makes an offer to the policy owner. The offer is generally a percentage of the policy’s death benefit. It’s usually more than the cash surrender value of the policy but less than its net life insurance death benefit. 

If the policyholder accepts the offer, they get the agreed amount, and the viatical settlement firm becomes the new owner and beneficiary of the policy. The company then has to keep paying the policy premiums until the insured person dies, at which point it collects the death benefit. 

In summary, viatical settlement companies provide a useful service for policyholders who may need immediate cash for things like medical bills, living costs, or other needs. However, it’s important for policyholders to understand the process, terms, and potential implications of selling their policy before going ahead with a viatical settlement. 


The evaluation of a term life insurance policy’s value is a meticulous process, involving several key steps: 

  1. Review of Policy Details: The first step in the evaluation process is a comprehensive review of the policy details. This includes understanding the type of policy (whether it’s term or convertible term), the death benefit amount, the payments, and the remaining term of the policy.
  2. Health Assessment of the Insured: The insured’s health status, like serious illness significantly impacts the policy’s value. The settlement firm typically reviews the insured’s medical records to understand their health condition better. In some cases, they may even consult with medical professionals to get an accurate estimate of the insured’s life duration.
  3. Calculation of Life Expectancy: Based on the insured’s age, health conditions, and lifestyle factors (like smoking or alcohol consumption), the company calculates the insured’s life longevity. This is a crucial factor in determining the policy’s present value as it gives an estimate of how long the company will need to keep paying the premiums to the life insurance company before they can claim the death benefit.
  4. Financial Evaluation: The company also conducts a financial evaluation, which involves analyzing the cost of continuing premium payments against the expected death benefit. If the premiums are high and the life longevity of the insured is long, the policy’s value may be lower.
  5. Market Factors: Lastly, market factors such as interest rates and the demand for life settlements can also affect the policy’s value. 

After considering all these factors, the settlement company arrives at an estimated value for the term life insurance policy. This value is used as a basis to make an offer to the policyholder. It’s important to note that this is an estimation, and the actual sale price may be negotiated between the policyholder and the company. 

Offers & Completing the Life Settlement Sale

Receiving Offers

Once the value of the term life insurance policy has been evaluated, the viatical settlement company makes an offer to the policyholder. This offer is typically a percentage of the death benefit of the policy. It’s important to note that the offer should be higher than the cash surrender value (the amount you’d get if you cancelled your policy early) but less than the total death benefit.

Selecting the Most Suitable Offer

It’s not uncommon for policyholders to receive offers from multiple viatical settlement companies. In such cases, it’s crucial to compare all the offers carefully. The highest offer may not always be the best one. Other factors to consider include the reputation and reliability of the company, the terms and conditions of the agreement, and the speed of payment. 

Policyholders might also want to consult with financial agents or attorneys to ensure they understand all the implications of the sale, including any potential tax consequences or impact on eligibility for public assistance programs. 

Finalizing the Transaction

Once the policyholder accepts an offer, the transaction moves towards completion. The policyholder, the buyer (the viatical settlement company), and the insurance company usually have to complete various documents to transfer the ownership of the policy. 

The payment is then made to the policyholder, either in a lump sum or in installments, based on the agreement. Once the transaction is completed, the viatical settlement firm becomes the new owner and beneficiary of the policy. They are then responsible for all future premium payments and will collect the death benefit when the insured passes away. 

It’s worth noting that some states have a ‘cooling-off’ period during which the policyholder can change their mind and cancel the transaction. 

Selling a term life insurance policy involves careful evaluation, comparison of offers, and understanding of the terms and conditions of the sale. It’s always advisable to seek professional advice before finalizing such a significant financial decision. 

Key Considerations Before Selling 

When contemplating selling your life insurance policy, there are several crucial factors to consider: 

1. Tax Implications: One of the most significant considerations is the potential tax liability that may arise from the sale of the policy. The funds received from a viatical settlement could be subject to income tax or capital gains tax. Therefore, it’s essential to consult with a tax professional to fully understand the potential tax implications and plan accordingly. 

2. Loss of Benefit: Selling your life insurance policy means that upon your death, your beneficiaries will not receive the death benefit. This could potentially leave them without financial support or resources to cover final expenses. So, weigh the immediate financial gain against the long-term impact on your loved ones. 

3. Privacy Concerns: When you sell your life insurance policy, the purchasing entity typically gains access to your personal and health information. This could include medical records and other sensitive data. Ensure you’re comfortable with this and that the purchasing company has secure privacy policies in place. 

4. Potential Alternatives: Before deciding to sell, consider possible alternatives. For instance, you might be able to convert your term policy into a whole or universal life insurance policy, which accumulates cash equivalent over time. Alternatively, you could explore the possibility of renewing your policy if your circumstances have changed since you initially took it out. 

Selling your life insurance policy is a significant decision that should not be taken lightly. It’s essential to evaluate all aspects, including potential tax liabilities, loss of benefits for heirs, privacy concerns, and possible alternatives. Always seek professional advice to ensure you make an informed decision that aligns with your financial goals and circumstances. 

Tips for Those Considering a Sale of Their Life Insurance Policy 

If you’re considering selling your life insurance policy, it’s essential to approach the decision with care and due diligence. Here are some useful tips: 

1. Seek Professional Consultation: One of the most important steps is seeking advice from financial or legal experts. Professionals such as financial agents, tax consultants, or attorneys can provide valuable insights into the implications of selling your policy. They can help you understand the potential tax liabilities, legal considerations, and whether the sale aligns with your overall financial plan. 

2. Shop Around: Just like any other significant financial transaction, it’s crucial to shop around and explore multiple viatical settlement providers. Different companies may offer different amounts for your policy based on their assessment of its value. By exploring various options, you can ensure you get more money for your policy. 

3. Understand All Associated Costs: Before agreeing to sell your policy, make sure you fully understand all the associated costs. This includes any fees charged by the viatical settlement provider or a broker if you choose to use one. These costs can significantly affect the net amount you receive from the sale, so it’s essential to factor them into your decision. 

What is a Life Settlement?

People who own a life insurance policy can sell it to a third party for more than the cash exchange value but less than the death payout. This is called life settlement transactions. The third party takes over as the policy’s receiver and is in charge of making the premium payments until the insured dies. People who own life settlements can cash in their plans while they are still living, which is different from other types of life insurance.

What are the risks of selling your term life insurance policy?

One of the main risks of selling your term life insurance coverage is that you may receive less money than you would if you kept the policy until maturity. Additionally, if you sell your policy to an unscrupulous buyer, you may be subject to fraud or other financial risks. To mitigate these risks, it is important to work with reputable buyers and brokers who have a track record of success in the industry with life insurance settlement association.

How to choose the right life settlement company?

When choosing a life insurance settlement firm, or life settlement broker, it is important to consider factors such as reputation, experience, and customer service. Look for life settlement companies that have been in business for several years and have a proven track record of success in the industry. 

Additionally, read reviews from other customers and check with organizations such as the Better Business Bureau or Life Insurance Settlement Association (LISA) to ensure that the company has a good reputation. Finally, choose a life insurance settlement firm that provides excellent customer service and is responsive to your needs.

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Other Life Insurance Policies

Whole life insurance policy is a type of permanent life insurance that protects the covered person for their whole life. It has a savings part called the “cash value” that grows tax-free over time and can be used to pay for things or get a loan while you are still living. Most of the time, the cash value of a whole insurance policy gets a set rate of interest. There are different kinds of fixed life insurance, and whole life plans cover you for your whole life.

With term life insurance, on the other hand, you only pay for coverage for a certain amount of time, usually between 5 and 30 years. Term insurance policies don’t build real value over time like whole insurance policies do. In the event of your unexpected death, they are meant to protect your estate financially. Term life plans have no loan value or savings or investment component, unlike whole life insurance.

A whole life insurance policy has a cash component that you can use during your lifetime. This is what makes it different from term life insurance. Term insurance only protects you for a certain number of years, but the whole life plan protects you for life, as long as you can pay the premiums. Term policies with the same death payout can cost five to fifteen times less than whole life policies. Because of this, whole life policies might not be right for everyone.

Universal Life Insurance

Universal life insurance is a type of permanent life policy that lets you choose how to pay your premiums, get your death benefits, and save money through the policy. Universal insurance policies, unlike term life insurance policies, build monetary value over time. You may borrow against this value or take it out while you are still living. There are times when the interest rate on the money value part of a universal life policy changes.

The main difference between universal life insurance and whole life insurance is that whole life policies have set premiums, sure cash actual value growth, and a death benefit, while universal life policies let you choose how to pay your premiums and what happens if you die. 

Permanent Life Insurance Policy

Permanent life insurance policies are a type of insurance that covers the insured person for their whole life. These types of policies build actual value over time, which you can borrow against or cash out while you are still living. 

Life insurance plans come in three different types:

  • Whole life policy – Whole life plan covers you for your whole life and the cash value part earns interest at a set rate.
  • Participating Insurance – Participating life insurance lets you earn policy income, while universal life insurance lets you choose how much to pay in premiums and how much to get when you pass away.
  • Universal life insurance – Universal life insurance plans may be cheaper than whole life since they allow premium adjustments within restrictions. 

Permanent plans can give you protection for life, a death bonus that isn’t taxed, and current value growth that you can access while you’re still alive. They may, however, cost more than term plans with the same policy’s death benefit payout.

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions About Selling Term Life Policy

What are the alternatives to selling my life insurance policy? 

If you are considering selling your life insurance policy because you can’t afford the premiums, you have several alternatives. These include reducing the death benefit to lower your premiums, borrowing against your policy’s value, or converting your policy into an annuity. Each option has its pros and cons, so it’s best to discuss these with a financial agent. 

Does selling my life insurance policy affect my credit score?

No, selling your life insurance policy does not have a direct impact on your credit score. However, if you use the proceeds from the sale to pay off debt, it could indirectly improve your credit score. 

Can I sell a term life insurance policy, or does it have to be a whole life policy?

Most life settlements involve whole life policies, but it is possible to sell a term life insurance policy, as long as the policy is convertible into a permanent one. Not all term policies are eligible for life settlements, so it’s best to check with a life settlement provider or broker. 

How long does the process of selling a life insurance policy take?

The process of selling a life insurance policy can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on various factors such as the complexity of the policy, the health of the insured, and the efficiency of the life settlement provider or broker. 

What is the difference between a life settlement and viatical settlement? 

Both life settlements and viatical settlements involve selling a life insurance policy to a third party. The difference lies in the health status of the insured. A life settlement typically involves a policyholder who is over 65 and not terminally ill, while a viatical settlement involves a policyholder who is terminally ill with a life expectancy of less than two years. 

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