What is Custom Whole Life insurance?

Custom Whole Life is similar to traditional whole life insurance. It offers guaranteed life insurance benefits and guaranteed premiums. The main difference is that, instead of paying premiums for life, you can choose a shorter period. Once the premiums are paid, the Custom Whole Life policy will stay in effect for as long as you live.

Retired couple enjoying a vacation

Custom Whole Life offers a personalized life insurance payment schedule

Whole life insurance is an important tool to secure your family's future and preserve your legacy after you’re gone. But with so many options to understand and terms to learn, shopping for a life insurance policy can quickly get confusing. While it may be tempting to simply click and purchase a policy online, this approach isn't recommended. With something as important as life insurance, you want a policy that is designed specifically for you and covers your family’s needs.

Custom Whole Life is but one of many options you have. With Custom Whole Life, you get all of the same benefits of a traditional whole life policy, but you have the flexibility to choose how many premium payments you make, within certain parameters. You can, for instance, pay off the entire policy in as little as five years. Then you have guaranteed coverage1 for the rest of your life and never have to worry about making another premium payment.


Benefit amount

The first big decision to make when shopping for a Custom Whole Life policy is how much coverage you want. Custom Whole Life policies at New York Life start at a coverage amount of $50,000, which could be ideal to cover final expenses or provide modest financial protection for your family. Benefits can go up to $500,000, $1 million, or more. Deciding how much you need will depend on many factors, such as your age, dependents, liabilities like a mortgage, and how much you can afford to pay in premiums. A good baseline is how much your family will need to cover expenses and continue their lifestyle for several years after you're gone.


Premiums and payment schedule

All whole life insurance policies have fixed premiums that will never change. Mostly, your premiums are set by factors such as your coverage amount, age, health, and any additional benefits you choose. With Custom Whole Life, you can also generally choose how many premium payments you make, after which the policy is paid in full and remains in effect. Your premium schedule can be as little as 5 years and must end before age 75. Of course, the shorter you make the premium payment period, the higher your premiums will be to compensate.



Like other whole life policies, you can also include optional add-ons called riders, usually for an additional cost. They offer opportunities to customize your policy further to meet your specific needs. Riders come in many shapes and forms and can change various aspects of how the policy works. Riders are one of the biggest reasons why working with a qualified agent is so important. They can help you understand all your options and create different combinations to provide the comprehensive coverage you need. Riders available on Custom Whole Life policies include:

  • Policy Purchase Option: Allows you to purchase additional coverage later in life without undergoing a medical exam or providing proof of insurability.
  • Living benefits option: Allows the use of a portion of your benefit to pay for treatment or care if you become terminally ill. This rider is included with the policy; however, there’s a cost to exercise it.
  • Yearly Renewable Term Rider — Upon purchase, provides additional term coverage on the primary insured, on the insured's spouse, children, parents, and/or business partners.


Custom Whole Life insurance pros and cons

Like any financial decision, it’s important to weigh how it will fit into your life and financial picture. The premiums for Custom Whole Life are generally going to be higher than comparable whole life or term life options. If you can afford those higher premiums now—for example, you’ve received a financial windfall—then it can be a particularly good solution for you. If you can’t afford higher premiums, than other options may suit you better. If you fail to keep up with your premium payments your insurance can lapse, and you will lose coverage. Here are some of the other major benefits of Custom Whole Life insurance:

  • Financial security: The life insurance benefit is guaranteed to pay out to your beneficiaries as long as you pay your premiums.
  • Predictability: Your premiums will never increase, meaning you can more easily plan for the future.
  • Versatility: Riders allow you to change important components of the policy to get coverage tailored to your specific needs.
  • Potential tax benefits: Cash value grows tax deferred, and the lump sum paid to your beneficiaries is generally tax free.


Is Custom Whole Life insurance worth it?

With its combination of lifelong coverage, tax advantages, and financial flexibility, whole life insurance is not only worth considering but it can be an essential component of a comprehensive financial strategy. Whether you choose traditional whole life or Custom Whole Life will depend on your goals and financial situation. Custom Whole Life premiums will likely be at least a bit higher than traditional whole life, but that comes with the benefit of paying it off early. Let’s look at an example:

Two people purchase life insurance at age 30. Person A purchases a traditional whole life policy. Person B purchases a Custom Whole Life policy with a payment period of 30 years. Both lock in a premium that will never change. While person A will pay lower premiums for the same policy amount, they will pay that amount for the rest of their life. Person B will have higher premiums, but the policy will be paid in full by the time they are 60 and getting ready to retire. They will no longer have to budget for payments, freeing up additional money during their retirement years, while the policy will continue to be in place and grow cash value. For many, this tradeoff is worth it. Explore your Custom Whole Life insurance options today with a financial professional.


Learn more about your Custom Whole Life options by speaking with an agent.

Product and rider fact sheets are available and we can also answer your questions and provide valuable insights to help ensure your financial stability.

1Guarantees of a custom whole life policy are based on the claims-paying ability of the issuer.

In most jurisdictions, the policy form number for New York Life Custom Whole Life is ICC18217-50P (4/18), Yearly Renewable Term rider is ICC22423-340R, Living Benefits rider is ICC17217- 495R, and the Policy Purchase Option rider is ICC17217-413R. State variations may apply.