What Is Collateral Assignment of Life Insurance?

ByNathan Paulus
Edited byCasie McCoskey

Updated: June 5, 2024

ByNathan Paulus
Edited byCasie McCoskey

Updated: June 5, 2024

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Collateral assignment of life insurance is an arrangement where a policyholder uses the face value of their life insurance policy, which can be a term or permanent life insurance policy, as collateral to secure a loan. If the policyholder dies before they pay off the loan, the lender is prioritized to receive a portion of the death benefit equivalent to the outstanding loan balance. The remaining benefit then goes to the policy's beneficiaries. This agreement ensures that life insurance collateral assignment acts as a safety net for both the lender and the beneficiaries.

  • Collateral assignment involves using a life insurance policy as security for a loan, where the lender has a claim on the death benefit if the borrower defaults or passes away before repaying the loan.
  • The lender receives priority over the death benefit, which means they are paid first from the policy's payout before any beneficiaries if the loan remains unpaid.
  • Various life insurance policies, including term, whole and universal, can be used for collateral assignment, depending on the insurance company's policies and the policy's value.
  • If a life insurance policy lapses or is canceled during a collateral assignment, it can breach the loan agreement, potentially resulting in immediate repayment demands.

How Collateral Assignment of Life Insurance Works

The collateral assignment allows you to use your life insurance policy as security for a loan. The process involves legally designating your policy as collateral, which means if you pass away before fully repaying the loan, the lender can claim the death benefit to cover the remaining balance. You start by choosing either a term policy or whole life insurance and then complete a collateral assignment agreement. This agreement is legally binding and sets the terms for the lender to access the death benefit.

For your beneficiaries, the assignment of your life insurance policy as collateral could reduce the death benefit they receive. If you die with an outstanding loan balance, the lender is paid first from the policy's proceeds. Any remaining amount goes to your beneficiaries only after the loan is settled.

For example, a policyholder with a $500,000 policy uses their life insurance as collateral for a $200,000 loan. If the policyholder dies before settling the loan, the lender will receive $200,000 from the policy's death benefit. Meanwhile, the remaining $300,000 gets disbursed to the policy's beneficiaries.

Roles of the Policyholder, Lender and Insurance Provider

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Role of the Policyholder

  • Ensure consistent premium payments to keep the policy active and in force.
  • Inform the lender of any policy changes, such as lapses or surrenders.
  • Understand that active management upholds the collateral agreement's integrity.
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Role of the Lender

  • Accept the life insurance policy as collateral.
  • Right to recover owed amounts from the policy's death benefit if the policyholder dies before loan repayment.
  • Priority claim on the death benefit, with remaining funds disbursed to beneficiaries.
  • Responsible for releasing the assignment after full loan repayment.
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Role of the Insurance Provider

  • Approve or reject the collateral assignment of the policy.
  • Evaluate and ensure compliance with policy terms.
  • Officially record the assignment as part of the policy.

Applying for Collateral Assignment

Applying for collateral assignment is a process moderated by your life insurance company designed to secure loans using your life insurance policy as collateral. It involves a series of steps:

Obtain a Collateral Assignment Form

Request a collateral assignment form from your life insurance provider. This form is vital for designating the lender as a collateral beneficiary for the loan amount. Ensure you obtain the correct form, as forms vary based on policy type and insurer.

Fill Out the Form Correctly

Complete the form with accurate details, including policy number, loan amount and lender information. Pay close attention to all sections to avoid errors that could delay or invalidate the assignment. Incomplete or incorrect information can lead to processing delays or rejection.

Sign the Paperwork

Ensure both the policyholder and lender sign the form, confirming the agreement. This dual signature legally binds both parties to the terms of the collateral assignment. Any discrepancy in signatures may question the form's validity.

Submit the Completed Form

Submit the signed form back to the insurance company for processing. Consider using a traceable delivery method for submission to confirm receipt. Delays in submission can impact the timeline of the loan approval process.

Await Approval or Rejection From the Insurance Company

Wait for the insurer to review and approve or reject the collateral assignment. The insurer may request additional information or clarification, which can extend the approval timeline.

Receive a Letter of Acknowledgment

You and your lender will receive a letter of acknowledgment from the insurer if your collateral assignment application is approved.

Obtaining Required Documentation

The required documentation for collateral assignment of life insurance is straightforward. Typically, you'll need to provide two main types of documents for the assignment of a life insurance policy as collateral:

  • Collateral Assignment Form: This form is critical because it officially transfers a portion of your life insurance policy benefits to the lender as collateral. It demonstrates to the lender that you have taken the steps to secure your loan against your life insurance policy.
  • Original Life Insurance Policy and Proof of Loan: Lenders may require your original life insurance policy to ensure it is valid and enforceable. Proof of the loan agreement or obligation, such as a mortgage note or other loan document, is also commonly required. This establishes the legitimacy of your loan and substantiates the life insurance collateral assignment.

If you need more clarification about documentation requirements, contact your lender to confirm the necessary details to avoid process delays.

Pros and Cons of Collateral Assignment

Using life insurance as collateral can offer a range of benefits and potential drawbacks. Collateral assignment of a policy allows you to secure loans and is often safer than using physical assets as collateral. However, you should also note the inherent risks, primarily that the lender retains the first right to your policy’s death benefit upon your death.

Pros and Cons

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  • Lower interest rates on loans.
  • Allows you to use the policy and not physical assets as collateral.
  • The cash value of your insurance policy continues to grow.
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  • The lender has the first right to the death benefit.
  • Failure to repay the loan can reduce or even eliminate the death benefit.
  • Any lapse or cancellation of the policy may lead to violating the loan terms.

Impact of Collateral Assignment on Beneficiaries

While the collateral assignment of life insurance has its benefits, it’s important to remember that it can impact the amount your beneficiaries receive. If you pass away with an outstanding balance on your loan:

Your Lender Will Be Paid First

In the collateral assignment arrangement, the lender is designated as the collateral beneficiary holding the primary claim to the death benefit for the outstanding loan amount. This means if you pass away before fully repaying the loan, the lender is entitled to receive payment from the death benefit first. The amount collected by the lender is limited to the remaining loan balance.

Any Remaining Death Benefit Will Be Disbursed to Your Beneficiaries

After the lender's claim is satisfied, the remaining death benefit is disbursed to your policy’s designated beneficiaries. The amount they receive depends on the loan balance at the time of your death. If the loan balance is substantial, your beneficiaries will receive significantly less than the policy's total death benefit.

This structure underscores the importance of carefully considering life insurance collateral loans and their impact on future financial planning. Policyholders using life insurance as collateral need to understand the terms set forth by loan companies that accept it.

Alternatives to Collateral Assignment

Alternatives to collateral assignment include personal loans, home equity loans or surrendering the life insurance policy for its cash value. None of these options require using life insurance as collateral, and each offers different benefits and risks compared to using life insurance as collateral.

Comparison to Collateral Assignment

Personal Loans

Personal loans are unsecured loans that don't require collateral.

Higher interest rates than collateral assignments, but no risk to life insurance benefits.

Home Equity Loans

Loans are secured against the equity in your home.

Involves risking a tangible asset (like your home or car), unlike life insurance in collateral assignments.

Surrendering Life Insurance

Involves terminating the policy for its cash value.

Provides immediate cash without a loan but terminates life insurance coverage and benefits.

FAQ About Collateral Assignment

These questions cover various topics related to collateral assignments, including their requirements, implications for beneficiaries and what happens in different scenarios.

What is a collateral assignment?
What is considered the collateral on a life insurance policy loan?
How is a collateral assignment used in a life insurance contract?
How does collateral assignment differ from naming a beneficiary?
Can any type of life insurance policy be used for collateral assignment?
Can the policyholder still change beneficiaries after a collateral assignment?
What happens if you cancel your life insurance before paying off the debt collateralized with your policy?

Related Content

These related sections offer additional insights into concepts and alternatives connected to collateral assignments and life insurance:

Using Collateral for a Personal Loan — This link explains how to use various types of collateral for securing a personal loan, providing a broader context to the specific use of life insurance as collateral.

Term vs. Permanent Life Insurance — This resource compares term and permanent life insurance, helping to understand which policies can be used for collateral assignments.

Permanent Life Insurance — This page details permanent life insurance, a type commonly used in collateral assignments due to its cash value component.

Life Insurance Calculator — This page helps you calculate the appropriate amount of life insurance coverage needed, which is crucial when considering using a policy for collateral.

About Nathan Paulus

Nathan Paulus headshot

Nathan Paulus is the Head of Content Marketing at MoneyGeek, with nearly 10 years of experience researching and creating content related to personal finance and financial literacy.

Paulus has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of St. Thomas, Houston. He enjoys helping people from all walks of life build stronger financial foundations.