Taxes & Insurance

If you have a life insurance policy you don’t need any longer, instead of letting it lapse or cashing it in, you could consider selling it to a buyer who will keep it in force.

Especially if you’re over 65 and have had some health problems, you may receive anywhere from 15 to 50 percent of its face value. A $300,000 policy, for example, might bring $45,000 to $150,000, depending on your health.


If you’re interested, ask your life insurance agent if he or she has had any experience with lifetime settlements, as they’re known. Alternatively, go to an Internet search engine and type in “lifetime settlements” to get leads.

However, be careful. Get several bids before selling your policy. Any fee or commission should be paid by the buyer, not by the seller. What’s more, that fee should be based on the policy’s selling price rather than its face value, so there’s more incentive to negotiate a higher price.

You also should be careful about whom you work with. Some policies are sold and later re-sold, so your medical records are shown all over the country. To avoid this, look into the background of anyone with whom you’ll be working, checking references to find someone who appears trustworthy. Even then, always ask to see bids on the stationery of the ultimate buyer, not an agent or broker, to make sure you’re seeing the actual bid.

The act of selling the policy can be tricky, too. A third party might be brought in to hold the buyer’s funds in escrow; then the insurance policy can be placed in escrow and the sale can be concluded.