One of the most misunderstood concepts of life insurance policies is the so-called 4% guaranteed rate of interest.

As a result of it a lot of times people get a life insurance policy but don’t see what they are told – the guaranteed 4% rate of return.

The 4% isn’t a guaranteed interest rate of return, but rather a discount rate.

In reality, you will get somewhere between 3% to 5% as the Internal rate of return on policies, and 4% is right in the middle.

Let me explain!

When you buy a whole life insurance policy, the insurance company generally makes two promises –

  • Promise No.1 – They’ll pay the death benefit whenever you die, as long as you own the policy
  • Promise No.2 – Once you reach the age of maturity (typically 100 or 121) they will have a pile of cash equal to the initial face amount of the policy waiting for you when you hit that age of maturity, whether it’s 100 or 121.

Now, if you have a limited pay policy, let’s say life paid up at age 65, that doesn’t mean you’ll have the equivalent of the face amount available in cash at age 65. It means premium payments will stop at age 65 and the cash will continue to grow. So that at 4% the policy will have, a cash value that is equal to the face amount at the age of maturity (typically at age 100 or 121, depending on the policy).

Where do the 4% returns come from?

The 4% guaranteed discount rate comes from regulation 7702. Recent changes made to this regulation allowed the discount rate as low as 2%.

Basically, if the insurance company is using a lower interest rate, that means everywhere along the line they need to have more cash so they can keep Promise no. 2: to produce a cash value equal the face amount at the age of maturity, whether that be age 100 or age 121.

So consequently, if they’re applying a lower discount rate they will need to have cash more cash along the way – It means your cash value along the way should be higher. So, if you’re designing a policy for cash value accumulation, the changes in the regulation aren’t necessarily a bad thing.

The downside of changes in 7702?

Well, prior to the 7702 changes in 2021, the actual cost of pure insurance increased. For example, a $100,000 of the death benefit may have cost $4,000 per year prior to the change in 7702, may now cost you $4,800 per year.

So with it, you’re going to get less death benefit per dollar of premium

The death benefit is going to cost more, but that’s not necessarily an issue when you’re building the policy, designing it around accumulating cash.


Remember, it’s not how much money you make, It’s how much money you keep that really matters.

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