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How much cash is a $100,000 life insurance policy worth?

life insurance concept in offioce workplace
Some life insurance policies have cash values, and knowing how much they're worth can be beneficial for potential buyers. Carol Yepes/Getty Images

Life insurance is an essential financial tool that provides protection and financial security to your loved ones in case of your death. By purchasing this type of policy, you're ensuring that your family is taken care of financially after you're gone — and that any bills or debts you left behind are covered.   

And, while there is a wide range of coverage limits, a $100,000 life insurance policy is a common choice for many people. That's because a policy with a $100,000 benefit amount offers a significant payout to beneficiaries — allowing them to take care of the necessary expenses that arise after you're gone. 

However, it's important to understand that the value of a life insurance policy extends beyond the face amount. In fact, certain types of policies have a cash value component that can be used in different ways while you're still alive. And, if that sounds intriguing, it can be helpful to understand how much cash a $100,000 life insurance policy is worth prior to purchasing one.

Start exploring your life insurance options here.

How much cash is a $100,000 life insurance policy worth?

Before we calculate the cash value of a $100,000 life insurance policy, it's important to understand the basics. 

What to know about life insurance and cash value

For starters, the $100,000 figure in your life insurance policy represents the face value, which is the amount your beneficiaries will receive upon your death. This tax-free lump sum can be used for various purposes, including covering funeral expenses, paying off debts and maintaining your family's standard of living. 

There are also two primary types of life insurance policies: term life insurance and whole life insurance.

Term life insurance provides coverage for a specified term, such as 10, 20 or 30 years. The premiums for term policies are typically lower, making them an affordable choice for many individuals. So, a $100,000 term life insurance policy might have lower premiums compared to a permanent policy. However, this type of policy doesn't have a cash value component.

Whole life insurance, such as whole life or universal life, provides coverage for your entire life and often includes a cash value component. These policies tend to have higher premiums, and a portion of your premium payments goes into a cash value account, which accumulates over time. That's where the cash value component comes in.

The cash value adds an extra layer of financial value. It is essentially a savings or investment component within the policy. Over time, this cash value grows, and you may have the option to borrow against it, withdraw it or use it to pay your premiums. 

You also have the option to sell your life insurance policy in a life settlement. This can be a good option if you no longer need to worry about providing financially for dependents you may leave behind — or if you need access to a lump sum of cash to pay off big expenses, prepare for retirement or for another purpose altogether.

Find out more about your life insurance policy options here.

Calculating the cash value of a $100k life insurance policy

While a $100,000 permanent life insurance policy provides a $100,000 death benefit, it also accumulates cash value. This cash value can vary significantly depending on factors like the insurance company's performance, policy type and premium payments. In some cases, the cash value could eventually surpass the policy's face value.

That said, policyholders who sell their life insurance policy generally receive anywhere from 10% to 50% of the face value or death benefit, according to data from the Life Insurance Settlement Association (LISA). However, most people receive around 20% of the face value on average, according to LISA.

So, if we're using that 20% average to calculate the cash value of a $100,000 life insurance policy, the cash value of the policy would be $20,000. However, that could also range from $10,000 on the low end to $50,000 on the high end based on the 10% to 50% face value cited by LISA.

What is the surrender value of life insurance?

The cash value isn't the only cash-related life insurance component worth noting. There is also the surrender value, which represents the amount you would receive if you decide to terminate your permanent life insurance policy before its maturity. This value may be lower than the accumulated cash value due to fees and surrender charges imposed by the insurance company. The surrender value can provide some financial flexibility but is usually not recommended unless you have no other options.

The bottom line

A $100,000 life insurance policy holds both the face value, which provides financial security to your loved ones, and additional value in the form of accumulated cash value (in the case of permanent policies). But the total worth of your policy depends on factors such as the type of policy, premiums and the performance of the insurance company.

When choosing a life insurance policy, it's essential to consider your financial objectives, your beneficiaries' needs and your current and future financial capabilities. And, whether you opt for a term or permanent policy, the value of your life insurance policy goes beyond the dollars and cents – it offers peace of mind and security for your loved ones in times of need.

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