If you have a high income or a high net worth, you can use life insurance to support your family or protect an inheritance when you die. We researched the best life insurance companies and policy options for high-net-worth individuals to help you maximize your wealth.
Why should you buy life insurance if you have a high net worth?
If you earn a high salary, it usually makes sense to insure your income, just like you would insure a house, car, or any other asset. But even if you have enough money to cover your family’s financial obligations when you die, life insurance can be used for the following purposes.
Business protection. If you share business ownership with a partner, you can take out life insurance to buffer against financial loss. If one partner dies, the other is able to buy out their share with the proceeds from the life insurance death benefit. This is called a buy-sell agreement.
Safe investments. Certain permanent life insurance policies that come with cash value accounts can protect your money from stock market fluctuations. A traditional investment account usually offers higher returns, but some cash value returns, while usually lower, are more predictable.
Estate taxes. If you have assets totaling more than $13.61 million,  your family may need to pay estate taxes of up to 40%, which could decrease their inheritance. A life insurance with a death benefit equal to or greater than the anticipated tax burden can help to offset these taxes and preserve your loved ones’ wealth.
“The greatest advantage most policies offer high-net-worth families is speed. Life insurance proceeds are often paid out within the month of someone’s passing,” says Ian Bloom, certified financial planner, registered life planner, and owner of Open World Financial Life Planning. “This can make a substantial amount of funds available for the family in a financially vulnerable time, while the estate details are still being worked out.”
What are the best life insurance options if you have a high net worth?
The best type of life insurance for you will depend on your financial goals. Sometimes, a combination of different types of policies can provide the right amount of financial protection for people with high coverage needs.
Term life insurance
If you’d like to provide your family with extra funds if you pass away unexpectedly or help them replace your lost income if you’re still earning a salary, term life insurance may be right for you.
Many financial advisors recommend buying a life policy equal to 10 to 15 times your income. But the amount that’s right for you will depend on your personal financial situation — including your assets, debts, household income, and dependents.
Sometimes larger insurers are more likely to offer policies with very high coverage amounts, which is a helpful factor to keep in mind while shopping.
Permanent life insurance
If you’re interested in a permanent, guaranteed death benefit and another way to grow your tax-deferred savings, then a permanent policy with a cash value might be a better fit.
High-earners who have already maximized contributions to other tax-deferred savings accounts — like 401(k) or Roth IRA — could consider whole life insurance or other permanent policies. Many whole life policies have a cash value feature that grows at a fixed low interest rate set by the insurer, making it a safe and predictable investment.
Permanent life insurance has some downsides to consider, too.
It’s much more expensive than a term life policy with the same payout — plus, it can come with investment risks depending on the type of policy you purchase.
You’ll have to make costly premium payments for years — or even decades — in order to reap the full benefits of the policy.
Make sure to discuss your options with a financial advisor in order to find the best life insurance policy for your needs.
Irrevocable life insurance trusts (ILITs)
Trusts can enhance your estate plan when used alongside life insurance policies.
An irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT) is a trust that can’t be altered or revoked once it’s issued.
An ILIT is a separate entity that can hold assets like a life insurance policy. It acts as the policyholder.
When you die, the death benefit is put into the trust. It then pays the proceeds to your beneficiaries according to your instructions.
An ILIT can be an effective way to pass wealth onto your children. It ensures that your beneficiaries can claim the death benefit quickly, and it keeps your life insurance proceeds out of your taxable estate, as long as it was created more than three years prior to your death.
You can work with an estate attorney to ensure your trust is set up correctly.
Best life insurance companies for high-net-worth individuals
Best term life insurance for high-net-worth applicants: Lincoln Financial
According to our analysis, Lincoln Financial offers some of the highest coverage amounts for term life insurance compared to other companies. You can buy up to $60 million in coverage from Lincoln Financial if your income and assets justify it.
Best whole life insurance for high net worth individuals: MassMutual
In addition to having high coverage amounts available — $10 million or more — our analysis found that MassMutual pays dividends to its whole life insurance policyholders, which means your cash value can grow faster. Plus, the company has high financial ratings from trusted third-party agencies like AM Best, so you can count on the company to be financially stable for years to come.
Comparing the best life insurance companies for people with a high net worth
How to buy life insurance if you have a high net worth
Comparing quotes and policy features from different life insurance companies is the best way to find a policy that protects your family and fits all of your needs. A Policygenius agent can help you get the right coverage to protect your legacy.
How can you use life insurance to build wealth?
Term life insurance can be used to build wealth across generations by providing a payout to your surviving loved ones. The death benefit can be used to pay estate tax, as well as preserve remaining assets. In that sense, term life insurance is more designed to protect wealth rather than to build it.
On the other hand, permanent life insurance can be used to complement an investment strategy, since you can access the cash value from your policy while you’re alive.
“If used properly, the proceeds [from a permanent life insurance policy] can be accessed tax-free as a loan, and the interest rates are guaranteed,” says Bloom of Open World Financial Life Planning. “This enables the policies to act similarly to a low-return bond portfolio with minimal tax implications.”
Just keep in mind that any outstanding loans will be subtracted from the death benefit if you die before paying it back. This means your beneficiaries would receive less money.
As a best practice, you can consult with a financial planner and a wealth manager to come up with a financial strategy that’s going to serve your needs when it comes to building wealth.