As individuals and business owners look for ways to cut expenses to survive the coronavirus pandemic, more state insurance departments are are providing them with the option of skipping life insurance premiums, while mandating that insurers keep policies in force.

That’s according to a state-by-state guide from Finder.com, a financial services education and resource site. The guide is designed to let policyholders and their advisors know if their state is mandating premium leniency and what other options they may have if they need to skip premium payments.

“We contacted each state insurance department and found many have mandated that life insurance companies help policyholders in financial hardship. This means insurers are legally obligated to do whatever they can to help you hold onto your policy,” Katia Lervasi of Finder.com said.

The guide provides links to state insurance department updates, along with executive summaries of state mandates.

Typically, a life insurance policy lapses if a policy holder does not make premium payments within the terms or grace period offered by in the policy, usually 30 days. But with the onset of the coronavirus, many state insurance departments are instructing insurers to extend the deadline or offer flexible payment plans to help consumers keep their policies in force.

“In a nutshell, if you can’t pay your premium within a grace period, you might not lose your coverage — but it’s a good idea to contact your insurer as soon as possible to discuss your options,” said Lervasi, who is updating the online guide.

With the financial ramifications of COVID-19 unfolding, it’s critical that consumers know what their options are if they can’t pay their life insurance policy premiums and for advisors to help avoid the possible loss of life insurance coverage, Lervasi said.

“The coronavirus has affected the lives of millions of Americans—and life insurance companies are well aware of its financial impact. As a result, most insurers have relaxed their guidelines for premium payments by extending due dates, waiving late fees, and offering flexible payment plans,” Lervasi added.

According to Finder, if consumers need to postpone premium payments, other options for payment may include the following:

• Use a rider, if you purchased one with your policy. If you can’t work due to an injury or illness — like the coronavirus — a waiver of premium rider could cover your premiums.  And if you’re temporarily disabled, a disability rider might apply.
• Withdraw from your policy’s cash value. If your permanent policy has accumulated enough cash value, you may be able to dip into that to pay your premium.
• Make the most of your dividends. Many mutual life insurance companies pay dividends to their permanent policyholders. If you’ve received dividends, consider using the money to cover your premium, Finder said.

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