Assigning Your Life Insurance Policy

Getting approval for a loan can sometimes depend on, for example, a lender asking a borrower, “How will this loan be repaid in the event of your death?” Your answer may be to assign your life insurance policy, a useful feature that can help provide necessary security for a lender.

You can freely assign your life insurance policy unless some limitation is specified in your contract (your insurance company can furnish the required assignment forms). Through an assignment, you can transfer your rights to all or a portion of the policy proceeds to an assignee. The extent to which these rights are transferable depends on the assignment provisions in the policy, the intention of the parties as expressed in the assignment form, and the actual circumstances of the assignment.

Types of Assignments

There are two types of conventional insurance policy assignments:

  1. An absolute assignment is typically intended to transfer all your interests, rights and ownership in the policy to an assignee. When the transaction is completed, you have no further financial interest in the policy.

    The terminology of absolute assignments differs from contract to contract. It may state that you transfer all rights, title, and interest in the policy to the assignee. Some insurance companies use an “ownership clause” to accomplish this transfer.

  2. A collateral assignment is a more limited type of transfer. It is a security arrangement to protect the assignee (lender) by using the policy as security for repayment. After the debt is repaid, the assignee releases his or her interest in the policy, and all rights to the policy revert to the owner.

    Under the usual procedure, if the collateral assignment is still in force at the time of your death, the assignee informs the insurance company of the remaining debt, including interest, and receives that amount in a lump sum. Any excess proceeds are then payable to your named beneficiary in accordance with the beneficiary designation in your policy.

To fully protect the assignee, notice must be given to the life insurance company that the assignment has been made. If a company without notice of assignment pays the proceeds to another assignee or to a named beneficiary, the insurance company cannot be forced to pay a second time.

Policy Provisions

Some typical policy provisions regarding assignments may include the following:

  1. The assignment will not be binding until the original, or a duplicate thereof, is filed at the insurance company’s home office.
  2. The insurance company assumes no obligation as to the effect, sufficiency, or validity of the assignment.
  3. The assignment is subject to any indebtedness to the insurance company on the policy.

Therefore, it is important to ensure that an assignment is made properly, regardless of whether it is absolute or collateral. Be sure to consult your qualified insurance professional for specific guidance about your unique circumstances.

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