Understanding Term Insurance and Variable Universal Life (VUL) Insurance

We all know that life insurance is an indispensable tool in planning our finances, you’re done with that.

One problem though, as you begin checking out the life insurance that you’ll be getting, you’re starting to get overwhelmed on the many choices that you have out there – Term Insurance, Variable Universal Life, Whole-life, and Endowment.

The question is, which one?

Confused? Let’s talk about each one of them, starting with the two types.

Two Types of Life Insurance

1. Traditional Life Insurance

Life Insurance has been a part of financial planning for several centuries, where the first policies were taken out in the early 18th Century. It had evolved so much back then.

Traditional Life Insurance are the type of insurance where our parents and grand parents are familiar with (they are, well, traditional). Kinds of Life Insurance here in the Philippines that fall in this classification are the following:

  • Term Life Insurance
  • Endowment Life Insurance
  • Whole-Life Insurance

These types of insurance may generate cash values and/or provide dividends.

2. Variable Universal Life Insurance

The evolution of life insurance has lead to the creation of Variable Universal Life Insurance, popularly referred to as VUL.

Since the introduction of VUL to the market, its acceptance lead it to become the best-selling Life Insurance policy during the past few years – taking 80% to 90% of life insurance policies sold.

VULs are popular for combining the protection brought by Life Insurance and the ability to grow your money through investments through Managed Funds

Confused?

Let’s dig deeper on two types of policies – Term Life Insurance and Variable Universal Life Insurance.

Understanding VUL & Term Life

Term Life Insurance

Plain vanilla Life Insurance – no frills, no complexities, just life insurance, period.

Term Life is the simplest type of Traditional Life Insurance, or in all types of Life Insurance in general. It does not earn dividends, no cash values accumulated, nothing – just life insurance, plain and simple.

The best feature of a Term Life Insurance is it’s inexpensive compared to other types of Life Insurance. It could provide the highest Life Insurance Coverage for a very low budget.

To provide you a perspective on how much it is, a Term Life Insurance for a 30-yr old non-smoker male, a P2 Million Pesos Coverage will cost around P9,300 per year (sample proposal from Sun Life’s SUN Safer Life).

However, since there are no cash values and/or dividends accumulated for this life insurance policy, you will be paying for it all throughout the lifetime of the policy while it’s enforced (active).

Also, premium rates increase as the years progress, how often depends on the design of the policy by different life insurance companies. It could increase every year, every 3 years, or in the case of the sampled proposal above for Sun Life’s SUN Safer Life, every 5 years.

Is Term Insurance for you?

Here are some profiles that fits perfectly the policyholders of Term Life Insurance:

  • You have a low budget and a very high need of considerably high life insurance coverage
  • You have short term needs of high life insurance coverage, e.g. used as Mortgage Redemption Insurance (MRI) for housing loans, or to protect your children to ensure whatever happens, they’ll be able to study, etc…
  • You opt to manage investments and savings separately from insurance – implementing the Buy Term Invest the Difference Strategy, often referred to as BTID

Variable Universal Life Insurance

Popularly known as VUL.

In the simplest context, a VUL is a combination of Life Insurance and Investments on managed funds, e.g. Mutual Funds (if you are not familiar on how managed funds work, you may check out the video that I have created here).

The Life Insurance portion is actually a term insurance, identical to what have discussed above.

Once we understand the separate concepts of Term Insurance and Managed Funds, understanding VUL is a breeze.

Two Types of VUL

Should you find yourself in a position wherein you’re inclined in getting a VUL, there’s one thing you should know – there are two types of them: Regular Pay VUL and Single Pay VUL.

Single Pay VUL (SPVUL)

As its name implies, this type of VUL requires a one-time pay investment – usually around P50,000 and up, depending on the insurance provider.

Single Pay VUL focuses on investment with a very minimal life insurance component. It is an insurance product in form, but really, an investment in substance.

I have dealt a very detailed explanation about SPVUL on an earlier blog post. You may check it out here.

Regular Pay VUL

If SPVUL focuses on investment, Regular Pay VUL “generally” focus on Life Insurance.

I used the word “generally” because it’s still flexible enough to focus on investment or life insurance, depending on how it is designed.

For a comparative analysis, let me show you some differences of Term Insurance and Regular Pay VUL using the same profile that I have used in the Term Insurance example above.

Term VUL
Annual Premium at age 30 9,300.00 44,160.00
Annual Premium at age 60 21,650.00 44,160.00
Estimated Fund Value at age 60 @ 10% Compounded Rate of Return 5,863,942.00

Please note though that this is not an apples-to-apples comparison. I showed this table so I can illustrate the differences between the two. For it to be comparable, you need to compare Regular Pay VUL vs. the BTID strategy. For more info, check it out here.

In the table, you may be able to spot some differences:

  • Term Insurance is way cheaper than Regular Pay VUL
  • Annual Premium for term insurance increase. Regular Pay VUL’s does not.
  • Regular Pay VUL accumulates fund values (cash values) which can be withdrawn anytime. Term Insurance does not.

Again, I don’t intend to show which is better. The purpose is to show the differences.

Is Regular Pay VUL for you?

Here are some profiles that fits perfectly the policyholders of Regular Pay VUL:

  • You opt to get “something back” to Life Insurance policies that you are paying.
  • You don’t have a considerable budget to go for BTID, but you want to target both Life Insurance and Investment at the same time.
  • You are diversifying your strategies – availing VUL while doing BTID.
  • You prefer monitoring less accounts and combining both Life Insurance and Investments makes it more manageable for you.

Which one is better?

It depends on a lot of factors.

The better choice will always be the one that meet your objectives. Thus, in choosing, it’s best to describe first to your Financial Advisor what you wish to accomplish – that’s the job of the advisor, to find a solution that will meet the requirements of the goals you want to achieve.

Should you wish to receive a FREE QUOTE/PROPOSAL, you may request here. A Financial Advisor will keep in touch with you.

The Conclusion of the BTID and VUL Debate

… I hope.

I was revisiting an old article from my other blog at MutualFundPH.com regarding the arguments I have made about this never ending debate of comparing VUL and BTID.

The fact that the director of the Registered Financial Planners (RFP), Mr. Randell Tiongson, has shared this article and noted it as an interesting gave me confidence that the argument has some merits on it.

And some of my colleagues has been using the same as well. Thank you 🙂

The topic resurfaced [to me] because of the conversations I had with a client yesterday, and the new articles that are coming out from different bloggers lately.

The client is aware of this BTID & VUL debate and was clearly able to make a stand based on the information he got from the web – that he’ll shun away VUL.

We really got hook into the conversation and noticed that we’ve been talking for about 4 hours. He ended up asking proposals for Term Insurance and VUL as well.

Driving towards my next appointment, my mind is running on a few realisation. This is what I wanted to share in this article.

1) Different strokes with different folks

We are different people, obviously.

We have the different diets, we have different hobbies, different forms of exercise, different things we enjoy and life, and so on and so forth…

But nobody wants to be different, in one way or another. That’s why we people tend to group ourselves based on several similarities we might have. And then have a collective opinion [somehow] on some topics…

Something wrong with that? Nothing. That’s human nature.

Some would prefer boxing over karate, some would go for football rather than basketball, and some would invest in forex and get bored in the stock market.

Even stock market investors argue on which is better, fundamentals or technicals.

The same way, some people will choose BTID over VUL, or vice versa…

This leads to my realisation no. 2.

2) We are not meant to be 100% Investment-Savvy Population

We enjoy the market – the ups and downs, the highs and lows. And surely we KNOW what to do during those times (have to separate knowledge and action in this sentence).

But not everyone of us will choose to devote their time on managing their money and learning about investments. Some of us will choose to devote their time on their profession, their vocations, or their calling in life.

Some would prefer taking the time for the betterment of their career, of their personal lives, of their purpose in life…

Some are too busy protecting the country with crimes, some are busy drafting new laws (I don’t know why I included this here), and some are too busy saving lives in the hospital.

At one certain point, we should learn how to stop imposing our personal expectations on the lives of other people (note to self, guilty as charged).

This is the reason why some invest in Forex, some on Stocks, some on mutual funds/UITF, some on VULs, some on their own businesses, some on Networking, and some on their careers as employees.

3) Personal Finance is not 100% logic.

Brian Tracey will often say in his videos, “We are 100% emotional. When we say we are making logical decisions, it just means that we are putting more emotions on that decision compared to any other decisions.”

When I was still a blogger who often find resource materials solely on texts, videos and audios researched on the internet, I must admit that I don’t have the best idea about VUL. I’m a logical person as I’ll always say.

But on the field, talking to hundreds of people individually, I’ve realise that reality is a vast ocean of differences and outlook. That one size will never fit everyone.

That forex is not the best, nor stock market, nor mutual funds, nor real estate, nor VUL and BTID.

They are all good (just in the middle). Best on the right circumstance, and worst on the wrong situation.

People will often make decisions based on emotions – emotions that are often connected on how people behave.

Conclusion and Final Thought

… I should end because I might bore you to death.

Here’s my point.

There will be no end in this debate, like fundamental analysis and technical analysis. But, you can always use them both.

To investors (myself included), we should try to keep an open mind on all options. Whether that be based on instrument – forex, stocks, or managed funds – or implementation strategies, like VUL or BTID.

Opening our mind does not necessarily mean that we have to accept the other person’s argument. It just mean that we are allowing that idea to come in our mind freely so we can process them based on our personal circumstances.

To Financial Advisors (myself included), we should continue expanding our knowledge so that our clients could gain confidence on whatever recommendation we might have to give.

I am inclined to believe that the best personal finance strategy should integrate well with our personality and behaviour. At the end of the day, our behaviour will last longer than in any interest we might have today.