What is variable universal life insurance?

Variable universal life insurance from New York Life offers flexible investment and insurance features, all rolled into one tax-advantaged product solution.

A mother and son sitting at the kitchen table working on a computer

Variable universal life insurance policies provide death benefit protection and are long-term investment vehicles offering the potential for cash value accumulation, and you can adjust how premiums and cash value are allocated across a variety of investment options.

If you want to protect your loved ones with life insurance and would like your policy’s cash value to take advantage of the growth potential of the markets, look no further than a flexible variable universal life policy.


How does a variable universal life insurance policy work?

As a type of permanent life insurance, variable life combines life insurance and investing. Like other types of life insurance, variable life pays a tax-free lump sum to your beneficiaries if you die. But often, it is utilized as an investment component.


The benefits and features of variable universal life insurance

Long-term protection

With variable universal life insurance, you have the potential to keep your coverage, if you want, including all the way to age 121.

Adjustable premiums

You can pay on a set schedule or enjoy greater freedom by making ad hoc payments as you go (within limits). However, investment returns affect your cash value, so you should monitor your variable universal life policy regularly, as you may need to adjust your premiums to ensure that your policy continues to meet your intended goals.

Market participation

You have access to an array of investment options, including model portfolios, managed by experienced, well-known asset managers. A wide selection of investment options offer diversification across asset classes, investment philosophies, and geography. Returns from the policy’s investment options are subject to market risk and will fluctuate with market conditions, so both gains and losses are possible. Your choice of investment options may be limited if you elect certain benefits or riders1.

Cash value accumulation potential

Variable universal life policies can accumulate cash value, which can be used for a variety of purposes. Cash accumulation is not guaranteed and is subject to market risk.

Tax advantages

Beneficiaries typically do not pay income taxes on the death benefits they receive. In addition, your cash value grows tax deferred. And, if your needs change, you can usually access your cash value income tax free.

A mother and father dancing with their daughter in the living room.

What are some different types of life insurance?


Whole life insurance

Whole life is permanent life insurance, designed for the long-term, with steady cash value growth. It can be a versatile tool to help you meet several needs. The death benefit provides cash to your beneficiaries when you pass away, plus you get potentially tax-free access to your cash value while you’re alive. This is cash that can be used to help you fund college education, assist in a down payment for a home, supplement retirement income, or help pay for anything else you need.


Universal life insurance

Universal life offers a combination of long-term coverage and the ability to accumulate cash value with interest. However, because interest rate changes may affect your cash value accumulation, and consequently the premiums you need to pay overtime, you need to monitor a universal life policy closely. The cash value accumulation potential varies by universal life policy.


Variable universal life insurance 

Variable universal life provides a life insurance benefit in exchange for flexible premiums. The cash value is allocated to investment options that are invested in stocks, bonds or other investments. It gives you market exposure that other life insurance policies may not offer. The policy’s cash value will fluctuate, since there will be investment gains and losses. Mortality and expense risk charges, cost of insurance charges, per thousand face amount charges, monthly contract charges, fund fees, and any applicable surrender charges apply. A variable universal life policy is offered only by prospectus; it’s important to read the prospectus carefully before investing to learn the investment objectives, strategies, risks, charges and expenses.


Consider variable universal life for:

  • Long-term death benefit protection
  • Potential for cash value accumulation
  • Potential for upside growth through access to financial markets



Want to learn more about variable universal life insurance?

A New York Life financial professional can help determine what’s right for you.

1"Form of Initial Summary Prospectus," New York Life Annuity Corporation, May 1, 2021. Sec.gov

Variable universal life insurance (VUL) is a type of permanent insurance that provides a life insurance benefit in exchange for flexible premiums. The policy’s cash value, including any assets allocated to the investment options, are subject to market risks and fluctuate in value. If there are any decreases in the policy’s cash value, they could negatively impact the policy’s life insurance benefit. Ask your registered representative for a VUL policy and underlying funds prospectuses. Please consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses of the policy carefully before investing. The prospectuses contain this and other information.