CASH SURRENDER VALUE: How To Calculate It For Life Insurance

cash surrender value

If you own an annuity or a life insurance policy, you must be aware of the cash surrender value. This is the maximum amount of money you can receive if you cancel your policy. We will explain what the cash surrender value is and how it works in this tutorial. We’ll also talk about when it’s a smart idea to terminate your policy and obtain the cash surrender value.
Before you surrender your life insurance policy in value to access its cash surrender value, it is critical that you understand what the cash surrender value of life insurance is and how to calculate it.

What Is Cash Surrender Value?

The cash surrender value is the amount of money your life insurance provider would give you if you relinquished or canceled your policy.

A whole life policy and other types of permanent life insurance include cash value. With these types of policies, your insurance company puts a percentage of your premiums into a cash-value account, where the money can grow. That cash value component will vary with market subaccounts, rely on internal company calculations, or grow at the current standard interest rate, depending on the sort of policy you have.

If you decide to surrender your life insurance policy, you will get the cash value of the investments made inside it, less any surrender fees. Term life insurance products, as previously stated, do not include this component.

Understanding Cash Surrender Value

If you have a whole life insurance policy, some of your monthly premium payments will go toward the death benefit. The remainder will be applied to your account’s cash value.

The trouble is, when you sign a contract with a life insurance company, you commit to pay the premium for the duration of your policy. In exchange, your carrier agrees to pay the benefit if you die. Furthermore, the insurance account might be viewed as protection if you decide to quit your contract with your provider.

If you decide to cancel the life insurance policy, you must pay any losses caused by the violation of the contract. Surrender fees are deducted from contributions made to the account’s cash value. The leftover amount (surrender value) will be paid out to the policyholder once the insurance company has deducted the money.

How Do You Calculate Cash Surrender Value?

You can calculate the surrender value of your policy by how much cash value you have and whether or not there is a surrender penalty when you want to cancel it. The length of the surrender period and how surrender charges are computed are specified in your policy; they are determined by your age, gender, rating class, and amount of coverage.

The penalty may be a percentage that decreases every year until the policy is “out of surrender” and it hits zero. Surrender charges might be particularly high during the first few years of the contract. For example, if you have any cash value built up during the first policy year, your surrender value could be 0% of the cash value. However, by the fifth year, it may be closer to 80% of the cash value amount. It is dependent on the terms of your policy and is not always an easy calculation.

If you wish to cancel a policy during the surrender time, find out what the cash surrender value is to determine how much of a hit you’ll suffer in surrender fees—it may be worth waiting until the policy is out of the surrender period or getting the cash value through a loan or direct withdrawal.

Surrender Fees and the SECURE Act

Prior to the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act of 2019, people who held annuities in an employer-sponsored retirement account, such as a 401(k), faced paying surrender charges and fees if they changed jobs or their employer stopped offering annuities as a retirement option.

The SECURE Act, on the other hand, makes annuity plans offered through a 401(k) transferable.

This means that members can move their annuity plan to another employer-sponsored plan or an IRA without having to liquidate their annuity or pay surrender fees.

Cash Surrender Value Taxation

The cash value of a permanent life insurance policy is tax-deferred. This means you don’t pay taxes on it until you withdraw your earnings.

Any sum beyond your cost basis (how much you’ve spent in premiums) is taxable income when you cancel the policy and obtain the surrender value. This includes any interest gained on the cash value as well as any dividends paid into it by your insurance company.

It’s easy to figure out how much of the cash surrender value will be taxed: The cash surrender value that will be taxed is the difference between the cash value of your policy and the amount you have paid in premiums. Your insurance company can assist you to calculate the cash surrender value.

What Life Insurance Policies Have Cash Surrender Values?

Cash surrender values are available with permanent life insurance contracts. They are as follows:

  1. Whole life insurance
  2. Universal Life insurance
  3. Indexed life insurance

#1. Variable universal life insurance (VUL)

These insurance policies provide death payments as well as a cash value that grows tax-free. Life insurance contracts accumulate cash value in numerous types.

Keep in mind that the costs of a permanent life insurance policy may be greater in the first few years. However, you must recognize that you will be paying substantially less in the future.

You can use the cash value of the insurance while you are still alive. You can use it to start a new business, pay for your child’s college tuition, or even purchase a new home. Furthermore, most people use the cash value as a monthly income when they retire. These elements enable permanent life insurance to function as both a cash-building instrument and an investment.

#2. Whole Life Insurance Cash Surrender Value

The cash surrender value is the amount of money you receive when you cease making payments on your whole life insurance policy. However, there is not much money from this at first because it must cover the cost of your life insurance.

The cash value of most whole life insurance policies is guaranteed. However, you will only receive this money if you cancel your policy.

Policyholders have the option of borrowing money from their insurance policy. The more you borrow, the lower your death benefit. Generally, loans are tax-free. If you do not repay the loan and cancel the policy, you will have to pay taxes on the loans.

In most circumstances, there are no more surrender charges after the surrender time has passed.

#3. Universal Life Insurance Cash Surrender Value

Although universal life insurance normally does not contain a guaranteed cash value, it can be abandoned after the first year. Universal insurance has a surrender period during which you can spend up to 10% of your policy’s cash value without paying a premium. There are no more surrender charges when the surrender period is complete.

Policyholders are responsible for paying taxes on the cash value profits part of surrendered cash values.

What are Surrender Fees?

When you collect the cash surrender value of your life insurance policy, most firms levy surrender fees. In general, these fees are higher for newer plans and gradually drop with time. Surrender fees vary greatly depending on the plan and the age or term of the policy in the issue. Surrender fees, on the other hand, are often in the 10% to 35% range.

Assume you had a 12-year-old life insurance policy with a cash value of $7,000 in it. You make the decision to cash in your policy. After your insurance company deducts a 20% surrender fee, you receive $5,600, and the company deducts $1,400 in fees. The value is the amount you receive, while the initial amount is the base cash value.

You should be aware that a percentage of the cash surrender value of life insurance may be taxed. If you have any questions about the tax implications of your life insurance policy and its cash surrender value, contact your insurance company, agent, or an accountant.

Is it worthwhile to surrender your policy?

Depending on your circumstances, it may be worthwhile to surrender your policy. If you intend to change your life insurance policy, especially if it is with a different provider, surrendering your policy may make a lot of sense.

Another possible occasion to surrender your policy is if you change employment and your new company provides free or discounted life insurance. Of course, you could surrender your policy if you are in desperate need of cash and have no other options. However, this ultimate motive should only be a last resort. In this case, obtaining a personal loan may make more sense. You could even borrow against your life insurance policy.

Surrendering your policy is not always a prudent decision. You are unlikely to get reimbursed for all premiums paid over the years. It does not constitute a refund. It only returns your investment after accounting for any gains or losses.

Alternatives To Surrendering Your Insurance Policy

Before you give up your life insurance policy and the security it provides for your loved ones, you should look into other choices. Here are a few alternatives to surrendering your life insurance policy.

#1. Withdraw the cash value

In many circumstances, you can withdraw money directly from your cash value. You may be required to leave a certain amount of it in place, but you may be permitted to withdraw and use the remainder. Remember that any money you withdraw may be taken from your death benefit, leaving your loved ones with less after you die.

#2. Get a policy loan.

A policy loan is another way to get rapid cash from your life insurance policy. These are loans in which your life insurance policy serves as collateral. If the loan is still due at the time of your death, your life insurance provider will deduct the amount owed from your death benefit.

#3. Sell the insurance policy

If you’re dead set on canceling your policy, you might be able to sell it instead. This could net you more than the cash surrender value while still removing the plan from your possession. This is referred to as a life settlement.


If you are considering canceling your life insurance policy, you should be aware of the cash surrender value. This is the maximum amount you can receive if you cancel your policy. It may differ from the amount of premiums paid. Most of the time, the cash surrender value will be less than the premiums paid. The amount you receive, however, is determined by the terms and circumstances of your policy. It should be noted that cash surrender value is not always a good deal. It is critical to acquire an estimate and compare pricing before making any selections.

Cash Surrender Value FAQs

How is cash surrender value calculated?

To calculate your cash surrender value, sum all payments made to an insurance policy and deduct any agency fees.

Can I withdraw cash surrender value?

After a specified amount of time, the policyholder can normally withdraw the cash value without incurring any fees, in which case the cash value and surrender value are identical.

What happens when a policy is surrendered for cash value?

When you surrender a policy, you lose coverage and are no longer liable for paying insurance premiums. If your policy has cash value, you will get it once surrender fees are deducted.

How do I report cash surrender value on my taxes?

Form 1099-R Distributions From Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit-Sharing Plans, IRAs, Insurance Contracts, and Other Investments should be sent to you, detailing the entire proceeds and the taxable portion. Fill out Lines 4a and 4b of Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

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