Skip to main content

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Taking Money Out Of Life Insurance?

By August 14th, 2023Insurance, Life Insurance

Life insurance serves as a cornerstone of financial planning, providing both protection and investment components to secure the future of policyholders and their loved ones. Beyond its primary purpose of offering a safety net for beneficiaries in the event of the policyholder’s passing, life insurance policies often accumulate a cash value that can be accessed during the policyholder’s lifetime.

This financial resource opens up a realm of possibilities, from covering emergencies to supplementing retirement income. However, like any financial decision, withdrawing money from a life insurance policy comes with its own set of advantages and drawbacks that must be carefully considered.

In this exploration of the pros and cons of taking money out of life insurance, we delve into the key factors that individuals should weigh when contemplating this important financial move. By understanding the potential benefits and pitfalls, readers can make informed decisions that align with their unique financial goals and circumstances.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Taking Money Out Of Life Insurance?

Taking money out of a life insurance policy can be a significant financial decision that requires careful consideration. Here are the pros and cons to help you evaluate whether withdrawing money from your life insurance policy is the right choice for your situation:


  1. Financial Flexibility: Life insurance policies that accumulate cash value over time offer a level of financial flexibility. By withdrawing money from the policy’s cash value, you gain access to funds that can be used for various purposes. This can be particularly valuable during unexpected financial emergencies or when you need extra funds for important expenses.
  2. Tax Advantages: Withdrawals from life insurance policies are often tax-advantaged. In many cases, the money you withdraw is not subject to income tax. This can be especially advantageous compared to other investment accounts where withdrawals may incur taxes.
  3. Supplemental Income: The cash value in a life insurance policy can potentially serve as a source of supplemental income during retirement or other phases of life where you might need extra funds. This can be particularly helpful if you’re looking to diversify your income sources.
  4. Loan Options: Some life insurance policies allow you to take out loans against the cash value. These loans can offer relatively low-interest borrowing options, and the best part is that the policy’s cash value can continue to grow even while you have a loan outstanding.


  1. Impact on Death Benefit: Withdrawing money from your life insurance policy can reduce the death benefit that your beneficiaries would receive. If the primary purpose of your life insurance policy is to provide financial protection for your loved ones, withdrawals could compromise this intended benefit.
  2. Compromised Investment Growth: The cash value in a life insurance policy often grows over time through investments. When you withdraw money from this cash value, you might miss out on potential investment gains. This can impact the long-term growth potential of the policy.
  3. Surrender Charges: Many life insurance policies impose surrender charges for early withdrawals. These charges can significantly reduce the amount you receive when you withdraw money from the policy’s cash value. It’s important to understand these charges and factor them into your decision.
  4. Alternatives and Opportunity Costs: Before deciding to take money out of your life insurance policy, consider alternative sources of funds. If you have other savings or investments, compare the potential returns and benefits of withdrawing from the life insurance policy versus utilizing other resources.

Overall, the decision to take money out of a life insurance policy involves weighing the benefits against the potential drawbacks. It’s crucial to evaluate your financial goals, the purpose of your life insurance policy, and your overall financial situation. Consulting with financial advisors can provide valuable insights to help you make an informed decision that aligns with your needs and objectives.

Pros Of Taking Money Out Of Life Insurance

Financial Flexibility

Financial flexibility refers to the ability to navigate and adapt to various financial situations and needs without facing excessive constraints. It implies having access to resources and assets that can be quickly and effectively utilized to address unexpected expenses, seize opportunities, or manage financial challenges.

In the context of personal finance, financial flexibility can manifest in several ways:

  1. Emergency Fund: Maintaining an emergency fund is a fundamental aspect of financial flexibility. This fund consists of readily available cash that can cover unexpected medical bills, car repairs, job loss, or other unforeseen events, preventing the need to rely on high-interest debt.
  2. Diverse Income Streams: Having multiple sources of income, such as a side business, freelance work, or investments, can enhance financial flexibility. If one income stream is affected, other sources can help maintain financial stability.
  3. Liquid Assets: Possessing assets that can be easily converted into cash, like stocks, bonds, or certain types of investments, contributes to financial flexibility. These assets can be sold or borrowed against when needed.
  4. Access to Credit: Responsible credit management, including maintaining a good credit score, provides access to credit lines and loans that can be used in emergencies or to seize investment opportunities.
  5. Flexibility in Investments: Diversifying investments across different asset classes can provide a buffer against market volatility and offer options to shift investments to align with changing financial goals.
  6. Control Over Expenses: Keeping discretionary spending in check and maintaining a budget ensures that you have control over your financial resources. This control allows you to allocate funds to address unexpected needs or invest in future goals.

Financial flexibility is not only about being prepared for emergencies but also about having the means to take advantage of opportunities that come your way. It enables you to navigate life’s financial complexities with a sense of security and confidence, without having to make hasty decisions that could have long-term repercussions. Achieving financial flexibility requires proactive planning, disciplined saving, and a clear understanding of your financial situation.

Tax Advantages

Tax advantages are benefits or incentives offered by tax codes that allow individuals, businesses, or investors to reduce their tax liability, retain more of their income, and optimize their financial strategies. These advantages can encourage specific behaviors or investments that promote economic growth, savings, and responsible financial decision-making. Tax advantages play a crucial role in shaping financial decisions and can vary based on jurisdiction and individual circumstances.

In the realm of personal finance, tax advantages can manifest in various ways:

  1. Tax-Deferred Growth: Certain retirement accounts, like Traditional IRAs and 401(k)s, provide tax-deferred growth. This means that the contributions made to these accounts are not taxed until they are withdrawn during retirement, potentially allowing investments to compound more efficiently over time.
  2. Tax Deductions: Tax deductions lower your taxable income and, in turn, decrease the amount of income subject to taxation. Common deductions include those related to mortgage interest, student loan interest, medical expenses, and charitable contributions.
  3. Tax Credits: Tax credits directly reduce the amount of tax you owe. They can be especially powerful because they provide a dollar-for-dollar reduction in your tax liability. Examples of tax credits include the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), and education-related credits.
  4. Tax-Free Savings: Certain accounts, such as Roth IRAs and Roth 401(k)s, offer tax-free growth and withdrawals under specific conditions. Contributions to these accounts are made with after-tax money, but qualified withdrawals, including earnings, can be taken tax-free in retirement.
  5. Capital Gains Tax Benefits: Special tax rates apply to capital gains—profits from the sale of investments. Depending on how long you held the investment and your income level, you may qualify for lower capital gains tax rates.
  6. Tax-Efficient Investing: Strategies like tax-loss harvesting involve offsetting capital gains with capital losses to minimize the tax impact of your investment activities.

It’s important to note that tax laws and regulations can change over time and may vary depending on your jurisdiction. Maximizing tax advantages requires careful planning, staying informed about tax code changes, and often seeking advice from tax professionals or financial advisors. By strategically leveraging tax advantages, individuals and businesses can optimize their financial decisions, retain more of their earnings, and achieve their financial goals more efficiently.

Supplemental Income

Supplemental income refers to the additional funds earned or received beyond one’s primary source of income. It serves as an extra financial cushion that can be used to cover expenses, invest, or pursue specific financial goals. Supplemental income can come from various sources and can play a vital role in enhancing financial stability and achieving long-term financial objectives.

Here are some common sources of supplemental income:

  1. Side Jobs or Gig Economy: Engaging in part-time jobs, freelance work, or participating in the gig economy can provide an additional stream of income. This income can be particularly beneficial for individuals looking to bolster their finances without committing to a full-time position.
  2. Rental Properties: Owning and renting out properties—residential or commercial—can generate steady supplemental income in the form of rent payments. Real estate investments can offer both immediate rental income and potential long-term appreciation.
  3. Dividend Payments: Investing in dividend-paying stocks or funds can provide a regular stream of supplemental income. Dividends are portions of a company’s earnings distributed to shareholders.
  4. Interest from Investments: Interest earned from savings accounts, certificates of deposit (CDs), bonds, or peer-to-peer lending platforms can contribute to your supplemental income. These investments often provide a fixed or predictable income stream.
  5. Online Businesses: E-commerce, affiliate marketing, blogging, and other online ventures can generate income through advertisements, product sales, or commissions.
  6. Royalties: Authors, artists, musicians, and inventors can earn royalties from their creative or intellectual property, contributing to their supplemental income.

Supplemental income can offer several benefits:

  • Financial Security: Supplemental income can act as a safety net, helping to cover unexpected expenses or economic downturns.
  • Debt Reduction: The extra income can be directed toward paying off debts faster, leading to improved financial health.
  • Investment Opportunities: Having additional funds can open doors to investment opportunities that contribute to long-term wealth accumulation.
  • Flexibility: Supplemental income often comes from flexible work arrangements, allowing individuals to balance multiple income streams with other commitments.

However, there are considerations to keep in mind:

  • Tax Implications: Supplemental income is generally subject to taxation. Understanding tax rules and properly reporting supplemental income is crucial.
  • Time and Effort: Balancing multiple income sources can require effective time management and may affect work-life balance.
  • Varied Income Stability: Some supplemental income sources might not be as stable as a traditional job, leading to income fluctuations.

Overall, supplemental income can play a significant role in diversifying and strengthening your financial foundation. It’s important to carefully evaluate potential income sources, understand the associated risks, and integrate supplemental income into your overall financial plan to achieve your goals effectively.

Cons Of Taking Money Out Of Life Insurance

Impact On Death Benefit

The death benefit is a fundamental aspect of life insurance, serving as the financial protection that a policyholder provides for their beneficiaries in the event of their passing. When considering withdrawing money from a life insurance policy, it’s crucial to understand how this decision can potentially impact the death benefit and the overall purpose of the policy.

Here’s how taking money out of a life insurance policy can affect the death benefit:

  1. Reduction in Coverage: Withdrawing funds from a life insurance policy’s cash value can lead to a reduction in the death benefit. The cash value serves as a portion of the policy’s underlying value, and any withdrawals decrease the available funds that contribute to the payout upon the policyholder’s death.
  2. Long-Term Financial Protection: Life insurance policies are often purchased to provide financial security for loved ones, ensuring that they have the necessary funds to cover funeral expenses, outstanding debts, mortgage payments, education costs, and other financial obligations in the event of the policyholder’s death. As the death benefit decreases, the intended level of financial protection may no longer be met.
  3. Reassessing Beneficiary Needs: If you’ve taken money out of your life insurance policy and the death benefit has been reduced, it might be necessary to reevaluate your beneficiaries’ needs. Changes in financial circumstances, such as the birth of children, changes in income, or shifts in financial goals, may require adjustments to the coverage amount.
  4. Loss of Legacy Planning: Some individuals use life insurance to leave a financial legacy for their heirs or to contribute to charitable causes. Reducing the death benefit by withdrawing funds could impact your ability to fulfill these legacy goals.
  5. Balancing Current and Future Needs: While accessing cash value can address immediate financial needs, it’s essential to strike a balance between present requirements and the long-term financial security the death benefit provides.

It’s important to note that not all types of life insurance policies will be affected in the same way. For instance, permanent life insurance policies, such as whole life and universal life, have cash value components that can be accessed, potentially impacting the death benefit. On the other hand, term life insurance policies generally don’t accumulate cash value, so withdrawals won’t affect the death benefit.

Before making any decisions about withdrawing funds from a life insurance policy, carefully consider the purpose of the policy, your beneficiaries’ needs, and your overall financial situation. If the death benefit reduction is a concern, explore alternative solutions, such as securing supplemental sources of income or emergency funds, to meet your immediate financial requirements without compromising the policy’s intended protection for your loved ones.

Compromised Investment Growth

The concept of investment growth is central to many financial decisions, and it holds particular significance within the context of life insurance policies that accumulate cash value. When contemplating withdrawing money from a life insurance policy, one crucial factor to consider is how such withdrawals can impact the potential growth of your investments over time.

Here’s how taking money out of a life insurance policy can potentially compromise investment growth:

  1. Diminished Cash Value: Life insurance policies, especially permanent life insurance types like whole life or universal life, accumulate cash value over time. This cash value is invested by the insurance company in various assets, aiming to generate returns. Withdrawing funds reduces the available cash value, which, in turn, limits the amount of money available for investment and growth.
  2. Reduced Compounding Effect: Investment growth often relies on the power of compounding—earning returns not only on the initial investment but also on the accumulated interest or gains. When you withdraw money from a life insurance policy, you reduce the base amount available for compounding, potentially affecting the compounding effect over the policy’s lifetime.
  3. Long-Term Financial Goals: Many individuals purchase life insurance with the intention of not only protecting their loved ones but also as a form of long-term investment. The cash value component is designed to provide an avenue for wealth accumulation over time. By withdrawing money prematurely, you might not fully realize the policy’s potential to grow and provide significant benefits down the road.
  4. Comparison to Alternative Investments: When evaluating whether to withdraw from a life insurance policy, it’s important to assess how the potential growth of the cash value compares to alternative investments. Other investment vehicles, such as stocks, bonds, or mutual funds, may offer higher growth potential. Considering the opportunity cost of withdrawing from the policy is crucial in making informed decisions.
  5. Adjusting Financial Strategies: If you’re considering withdrawals to address short-term financial needs, explore alternatives like personal savings, emergency funds, or other available assets. Adjusting your financial strategies can help you meet immediate needs without sacrificing the long-term growth potential of your life insurance policy.

As you contemplate withdrawing funds from a life insurance policy, take into account your overall financial goals, risk tolerance, and the intended purpose of the policy. If maintaining the growth potential of your investment is important, consider other financial solutions to address immediate needs while preserving the long-term benefits of the policy’s investment component. Consulting with financial advisors can provide valuable insights into how to balance short-term requirements with your broader financial objectives.

Policy Surrender Charges

Policy surrender charges are fees imposed by insurance companies when policyholders choose to terminate or surrender their life insurance policies prematurely, often before a specified period. These charges are designed to compensate the insurance company for expenses incurred when issuing and maintaining the policy, as well as to account for the potential loss of profits due to policy termination. Understanding policy surrender charges is crucial when considering the withdrawal of funds from a life insurance policy.

Here’s what you need to know about policy surrender charges:

  1. Early Termination Penalties: Many life insurance policies, especially permanent life insurance types, require policyholders to commit to the policy for a certain period, known as the surrender period. If you decide to surrender the policy within this period, surrender charges apply. These charges are typically highest in the initial years of the policy and gradually decrease over time.
  2. Reduction of Cash Value: Surrender charges are deducted from the policy’s cash value when you choose to surrender the policy. This means that the amount you receive upon policy termination will be lower than the total cash value indicated in the policy.
  3. Impact on Returns: Surrender charges can significantly impact the overall returns on your policy. If you’ve been paying premiums and building cash value for a number of years, surrendering the policy early may result in a lower return on investment than you initially anticipated.
  4. Considerations for Withdrawals: When considering withdrawals from a life insurance policy, be aware of the potential surrender charges. Before making any decisions, assess the charges against the amount you intend to withdraw and the benefits you’ll receive. Ensure that the remaining cash value aligns with your financial needs and goals.
  5. Alternatives to Surrender: If you’re facing financial difficulties or considering policy surrender due to financial constraints, explore alternatives. Some policies offer options such as reduced paid-up insurance, policy loans, or changing the policy’s death benefit to a lower amount to reduce premiums.
  6. Review the Policy Terms: Familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions of your life insurance policy, especially those related to surrender charges. Understanding the surrender period and how charges are calculated will help you make informed decisions.

Surrendering a life insurance policy is a significant decision that can have long-term financial implications. While surrender charges are designed to deter early policy termination, they can impact your financial choices. Before taking any actions, consider your financial situation, the purpose of the policy, and consult with financial advisors to ensure that your decision aligns with your overall financial strategy.


In the intricate landscape of personal finance, decisions are rarely straightforward, and taking money out of a life insurance policy is no exception. As we’ve explored the pros and cons of this financial move, it’s evident that the considerations are multifaceted and require a delicate balance between immediate needs and long-term goals. A well-informed decision hinges on a deep understanding of the potential benefits and drawbacks, as well as a clear alignment with your unique financial aspirations.

On the positive side, the concept of financial flexibility emerges as a beacon of opportunity. The ability to access cash value from a life insurance policy provides a safety net for emergencies, offers a bridge to cover unforeseen financial hardships, and even paves the way for supplemental income during retirement or other pivotal life stages. This financial tool can indeed empower individuals to navigate the twists and turns of life with a heightened sense of control over their resources.

Furthermore, the allure of tax advantages adds another layer of attraction to tapping into life insurance cash value. The potential for tax-free or tax-deferred withdrawals, combined with the unique option of tax-free policy loans, presents an enticing financial proposition. Leveraging these advantages can optimize your financial strategy, ultimately retaining more of your hard-earned money.

However, a prudent evaluation of the cons cannot be understated. The looming shadow of an impacted death benefit requires careful consideration. The primary purpose of life insurance is to provide financial security for loved ones upon your passing. Any withdrawal that diminishes the death benefit jeopardizes the intended protection for your beneficiaries, leaving them potentially exposed to financial vulnerabilities.

Moreover, the compromise of investment growth underscores the nuanced nature of this decision. By withdrawing funds, you risk hindering the potential for compounded growth over time. The allure of investment returns can often shape our long-term financial strategies, and forgoing such growth can impact your broader financial trajectory.

Policy surrender charges, an often overlooked facet, serve as a financial gatekeeper to discourage hasty decisions. These charges, intended to compensate the insurer for early policy termination, directly affect the amount you ultimately receive. Understanding their implications is essential for making a well-informed choice.

In light of these considerations, the key to a successful resolution lies in the art of balance. Assessing your individual needs, financial goals, and current circumstances will be paramount. Seeking the guidance of financial advisors can provide invaluable insights, helping you navigate the intricate web of choices and consequences.

Overall, the decision to withdraw money from a life insurance policy is multifaceted, requiring a comprehensive understanding of its pros and cons. By conscientiously evaluating the potential for financial flexibility, tax advantages, supplemental income, and other advantages against the potential impact on the death benefit, investment growth, and policy surrender charges, you can forge a path that aligns with your unique financial aspirations. The journey toward making an informed decision serves as a testament to your commitment to securing your financial future and those of your loved ones. In the intricate tapestry of financial choices, your thoughtful consideration is the thread that weaves success.