Is Life Insurance An Asset Like Your House, Cash, Or Gold?

by Hank Coleman

There are many types of life insurance policiesIs life insurance an asset? Do you consider your life insurance policy to be an asset like your house, cash in your bank account, or the gold bullion bars under your bed? Is life insurance the new asset class?

Are our net worth’s about to skyrocket? It is an interesting idea that has been gaining in popularity in the personal finance circles.

There are several reasons that you may want to consider your life insurance policy to be an asset. But, there are also plenty of reasons not to think of it in that way.

Is Life Insurance An Asset? Maybe!

I will start by saying that I am not a fan of this new philosophy. I personally do feel that life insurance policies are an asset. They are simply a tool. They aren’t a tangible asset that you can touch.

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With that being said, there are a few circumstances where I can see that people would include their life insurance policies as an asset. Most of them revolve around whole life insurance policies which are very expensive for people to own. There are much better uses of your principle payments than whole life insurance which is also known as cash value insurance policies.

I could understand some arguments that whole life insurance that will not expire as long as you maintain your principle payments could possibly be considered an asset. Most have a considerable payout which would boost your net worth calculations if included in your list of assets like cash, investments, real estate, and the like.

There is another argument that whole life policies that can be cashed in for a certain sum of money could also be another reason to think of the policies as an asset.

Don’t Be So Fast Adding It To Your Balance Sheet

Do you own a term life insurance policy? I would argue that this type of life insurance policy is not the best type to add to your personal balance sheet and include in your net worth calculations. Term life insurance policies are a great value, and they simply provide life insurance coverage for a set number of years such as five, ten, twenty, or even thirty.

But, after those years expire, so does your life insurance policy. Talk about a vanishing asset. If you add term life insurance to your net worth like any other asset, you would give yourself a false sense of doing better than you actually are.

Listing life insurance as an asset especially when calculating your net worth can give you a false sense of security. It will inflate your net worth by the face value of your policy’s payout should you die.

The only way of course for you to be worth that much money is if you actually were to die. Life insurance is designed to replace lost income should you unexpectedly die. It should be used to protect people who depend on your income and would need to have it replaced should you kick the bucket.

What do you think? Is life insurance an asset? Do you include it in your net worth calculations?

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About Hank Coleman

Hank Coleman is the founder of Money Q&A, an Iraq combat veteran, a Dr. Pepper addict, and a self-proclaimed investing junkie. He has written extensively for many nationally known financial websites and publications. Hank holds a Master’s Degree in Finance and a graduate certificate in personal financial planning. Email him directly at Hank[at]MoneyQandA.com.


Hank Coleman has written 590 articles on Money Q&A. Learn more about Money Q&A on Twitter @MoneyQandA and @HankColeman.


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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

SB @ One Cent at a Time

frankly the idea never occurred to me that I could add insurance to my net-worth. I only have employer sponsored group life insurance and never bothered to look for self-insurance. But, do you get the types where you get back fixed sum when you die or after specific number of years here in US?

If you do, then I believe that can be added to net-worth.

Reply

slim testimonials

Talk about a vanishing asset. If you add term life insurance to your net worth like any other asset, you would give yourself a false sense of doing better than you actually are.

Reply

Rob

I think a cash value (usually whole life) policy is definitely an asset, but it’s cash value is likely a small fraction of its face value. For example, a $100,000 whole life policy might only have $7,000 cash value (after paying years of premiums) that you could add to your net worth. Term life has no cash value and should not be part of your net worth.

Adding up the size of your taxable estate after your death is another matter entirely, but will likely include the face value of all life insurance policies that you own (without getting into trusts here). Depending on what state you live in, and/or what happens in Washington in the next few months, the life insurance payouts could make you liable for estate taxes that you might not be ready for.

The bottom line is:
1. ‘cash value’ policies really do have cash value, but not much
and
2. ‘net worth’ and ‘taxable estate’ are 2 different things.

Reply

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