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Frequently Asked Questions About Life Insurance

Life Insurance FAQs

  1. How do I take out a loan on my policy?
    Loan Value is the amount of cash value that can be borrowed on a policy. A policyowner may be able to make a loan against the cash value of the policy, based on the type of policy owned. A loan allows access to the cash value of the policy, while still maintaining the insurance coverage. When a loan is made against a policy, the death benefit is generally reduced by the amount of the loan plus any interest that is owed. Loan interest rates vary and specific provisions are generally explained in the policy itself.

    Generally, a policyowner can request a loan by calling a Service Center. However, in certain instances, a loan form or written request signed by the policyowner will be required. Please remember a policy loan accrues interest and will reduce the death benefit. A loan form or written request signed by the policyowner must be sent to a Service Center if:

    • The policyowner requests that the loan check be sent to a temporary address.
    • There is a change of address pending when the loan is requested.
    • The policy is company owned. Signatures of two officers and their titles will be required for corporations and the sole proprietor's signature will be required for sole proprietorships.
    • The proceeds of the loan are being transferred to a bank.
    • The policy has multiple owners.
    • The policy is owned by a trust.
    • The policy is assigned.

    Visit the Virtual Service Center to request a loan, or call us to request a loan through our Automated Voice Response System (IVR) or to speak to a Customer Service Representative.

  2. How do I report a death?
    Upon the death of an insured, a Service Center, General Office, or Sales Office must be contacted and advised of the name of the insured, the date and cause of death, and the name, address, and telephone number of the person who should be contacted. A claimant's statement and additional information on how to file a death claim is then sent to the appropriate person.

    You can report a death via e–mail or for more information please visit our Beneficiary Resource Center.

  3. Who is a Beneficiary?
    This is the person or other party designated to receive life insurance or annuity proceeds upon the death of the insured. The beneficiary is named when a policy is taken out and can be changed at the request of the policyowner.

    A contingent beneficiary is the party designated to receive life insurance policy proceeds if the primary beneficiary should die before the person whose life is insured.

    In order to change the beneficiary of a policy, the current policyowner must fill out a form with the necessary information and return it to the Service Center.

  4. What is Income Tax Withholding?
    Since the enactment of the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA), New York Life has been required to withhold Federal and sometimes State (depending on the state of record of the policyowner) income taxes from certain taxable distributions. Generally, payees are permitted to elect not to have income taxes withheld from designated distributions.

  5. What is Taxable Gain?
    Under the tax law, certain distributions from life insurance policies result in taxable income to the policyowner. If a distribution is taxable, the amount the policyowner is taxed on is limited to the "gain" in the policy, which generally equals the policy's cash surrender value less the premiums paid. The following distributions and other transactions may result in taxable income to the policyowner: partial withdrawals, policy surrenders and lapses, and certain dividends. In addition, loans from policies that have been classified "modified endowment contracts" may result in taxable income to the policyowner.

  6. How do I access my account or policy information online?
    Visit the Virtual Service Center to view and service your policy or account.

  7. Why do I receive a "page cannot be displayed" error when I attempt to access my Life Insurance or Annuity account on the Virtual Service Center?
    If you receive a "page cannot be displayed" error, there's a chance your browser does not contain 128–bit encryption. For your protection our service web site requires that your browser be 128 bit–encrypted. If your browser is not 128–bit encrypted you will need to upgrade to a more secure browser.

    If you are using Internet Explorer 5.0x or below you can check the encryption level by selecting "Help" then "About Internet Explorer" from the top toolbar. It should state: "Cipher Strength: 128–bit." If it states "Cipher Strength: 40–bit", you will need to visit the Microsoft Web site to download a browser that is 128–bit encrypted. The browser you download may vary based on your operating system and must contain the proper system requirements as specified by Microsoft.

    If you are using Netscape 4.7x or below you can check the encryption level by selecting "Help" then "About Netscape (Communicator)" from the top toolbar. It should state in bold: "This version supports U.S. security" which indicates it is 128–bit encrypted. If it states "This version supports international security", the browser only contains 40–bit encryption, and you will need to visit the Netscape Web site to download a browser that is 128–bit encrypted. The browser you download may vary based on your operating system and must contain the proper system requirements as specified by Netscape.

  8. How can I find out if my deceased relative had life insurance with New York Life?
    Try our Unclaimed Funds Finder or contact a Customer Service Representative by calling: (800) 695–4331 or email a rep by clicking here.

  9. How do I change a beneficiary?
    Visit the Virtual Service Center to download a Change of Beneficiary form. Click on the Service Form Library to select the appropriate form for your state and policy.

  10. I have changed my name, how do I update this information?
    To change the name on a policy, the current policy owner must send a signed form, a written request, and a copy of a marriage certificate or other court document to the Service Center.

    Visit the Virtual Service Center to download a Name Change Request Form. Click on the Service Form Library to select the appropriate form for your state and policy.

  11. How can I update my home address?
    Call (800) 695–4331 and provide the policy number and old and new addresses or send a written request, which includes the same information, or email a rep via the Virtual Service Center.

  12. How can the ownership of a policy be changed?
    To change the ownership of a policy, the current policyowner must fill out a Transfer of Ownership/Designation of Successor Owner form (obtained from the Service Center) and return it to the Service Center.

    Visit the Virtual Service Center to download a Transfer of Ownership/Designation of Successor Owner Form. Click on the Service Form Library to select the appropriate form for your state and policy.

  13. What are my different options for paying premiums?
    There are several ways to pay your premiums:

    • You can set up an automatic payment service by signing up for Check-O-Matic; click here to sign up
    • Call (800) 695–4331 to speak to a customer representative
    • Contact a service rep for the payment address and information via email
    Please note if you pay your premium other than annually, the total premium paid each year will be more than the annual premium.

  14. What is Check-O-Matic?
    This is a mode of payment in which premiums are paid monthly by deducting the money directly from a policyowner's bank account. This can be initiated by filling out a Check-O-Matic (C–O–M) Request Form with the necessary information and returning it to the Service Center.

    Any time it becomes necessary to change the bank information, the policyowner must fill out a new form and return it to the Service Center.

  15. How do I change my banking information for my Check-O-Matic payments?
    The policy owner must fill out a new form previously obtained from the Service Center with the necessary information and return it to the Service Center.

    Contact a Customer Service Representative by calling: (800) 695–4331 or email a rep by clicking here to request a form. You can also download the form from the Virtual Service Center forms library.

  16. What is Cash Surrender Value?
    This term refers to the amount payable to the permanent life policy owner upon surrender of the policy. It is equal to the current Cash Value, less any surrender charges that may apply, any monthly contract charges, and any outstanding loans and accrued interest.

  17. What is Surrender Charge?
    During the surrender charge period of a permanent life policy, an amount of money that is deducted from a policy's Total Accumulation Value if you:

    • Surrender your policy
    • Decrease the face amount of your policy

  18. How can I obtain up to date unit values for my various Investment Divisions?
    Visit the Fund Values page to see the Accumulated Unit Values for the funds in your policy.

    You can also visit the Virtual Service Center daily to obtain Accumulation Unit Values or call us at 1–800–598–2019 to access our Automated Voice Response System (IVR).

  19. What are Dividends?
    For information on Dividends, please Click Here.

  20. How do I change Dividend option on a Policy?
    In order to change the dividend option on a policy, the policyowner must send a signed, written request or fill out a form with the necessary information and return it to the Service Center. Generally, a policyowner can withdraw dividends from a policy by calling a Service Center. However, in certain instances, a form or written request signed by the policyowner will be required. A dividend withdrawal form or written request signed by the policyowner must be sent to a Service Center if:

    • There is a change of address pending when the dividend withdrawal is requested.
    • The policy is company owned. Signatures of two officers and their titles will be required for corporations and the sole proprietor's signature will be required for sole proprietorships.
    • The proceeds of a dividend withdrawal are being transferred to a bank.
    • The policy has multiple owners.
    • The policy is owned by a trust.
    • The policy is assigned.

  21. How do I take out a loan on my policy?
    Generally, a permanent life policy owner can request a loan by calling a Service Center. However, in certain instances, a loan form or written request signed by the policyowner will be required. Please remember a policy loan accrues interest and will reduce the death benefit.

    Contact a Customer Service Representative by calling: (800) 695–4331 or email a rep by clicking here to request a loan and for more details.

  22. How do I cancel my policy?
    Contact a Customer Service Representative by calling: (800) 695–4331 or email a rep by clicking here.

  23. What should I do if I can't pay my premiums?
    You should notify the service center right away. Contact a Customer Service Representative by calling: (800) 695–4331 or email a rep by clicking here. You may also want to read the article, When You Can't Pay Your Insurance Premium.

  24. How much life insurance do I need?
    At no charge to you, a New York Life agent — professionally trained and experienced — can help you analyze your needs and recommend an appropriate amount of insurance to meet your needs. Click here to request a no obligation review with a New York Life agent.

  25. How do I get a quote for life insurance?
    Click here to request a no obligation review with a New York Life agent.

  26. How can I purchase Life Insurance?
    The best thing to do is to consult an agent and he or she can help you with your purchase.

  27. How do I contact an agent?
    Please use the consult an agent form, or our agent/office locator.

  28. What is Whole Life Insurance?
    This is life insurance that remains in force during the lifetime of the insured, provided premiums are paid as specified in the policy. Whole Life provides a guaranteed premium, a guaranteed death benefit, and a guaranteed cash value. While a Whole Life policy is in force you may take out a policy loan against the cash value or receive the cash value (less any policy loans and accumulated interest) should you need to surrender the policy. In addition, a Whole Life policy can pay dividends, which may be used to enhance both the death benefit and the cash value or may be used to reduce your premium payment. Dividends are not guaranteed and policy loans accrue interest and reduce the death benefit. For more information about Whole Life please click here.

  29. What is Term Insurance?
    This is life insurance, that pays a death benefit provided the insured dies during a specified period, and premiums are paid as designated in the contract. No death benefit is payable if the insured survives past the end of the term. Since premiums paid are used entirely to cover the cost of insurance, there is no cash value on a term insurance policy. Premiums may increase or decrease, depending on the type of term insurance owned. For further information about term life, please click here.

  30. What is Universal Life Insurance?
    This is adjustable life insurance that allows flexible premium payments,* pays the life insurance benefit if the insured dies before the maturity date, and pays the cash value if the insured is living at the maturity date. A flexible premium is one that may be paid at a scheduled or unscheduled time. When a premium is paid, an expense charge is immediately deducted and the balance is placed in a cash value fund to earn interest at the current rate. Each month, all insurance expense charges necessary to keep the policy in force are paid internally from the cash value, regardless of whether or not the premium was paid. The cost of insurance will increase each year on the policy anniversary based on the attained age of the insured. This is a non–participating policy on which no dividends are payable.

    * The policy will terminate at any time if the cash surrender value is insufficient to pay the monthly deductions. This can happen due to insufficient premium payments, if loans or withdrawals are made, or if current interest rates or charges fluctuates. Click here for more information about Universal Life.

  31. What is Variable Universal Life Insurance?
    This is a form of universal life insurance that combines the premium and death benefit flexibility of traditional universal life insurance and the investment flexibility and risks of variable life insurance. These products are considered securities because the policyowner assumes investment risk associated with the variable investment divisions, whose performance will fluctuate with market conditions. Variable Universal Life is offered by prospectus only, which contains complete information about the product including charges and expenses. Only registered representatives of NYLIFE Securities Inc. (member FINRA/SIPC) may offer this product. Click here for more information about Variable Universal Life.

Have a question not addressed here? Ask it here or click to consult an agent.

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Consult a Life Insurance Agent
At no charge to you, a New York Life agent — professionally trained and experienced — can help you analyze your needs and recommend appropriate solutions through insurance and financial products and concepts. Click here to request a no obligation review with a New York Life agent.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Life Insurance

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