What Happens When My Life Insurance Policy Lapses

Have you ever asked the question, what happens when my life insurance policy lapses? It is a common question, and today, I will break it all down for you!

As we step into the golden years of our lives, securing our family’s financial future becomes a top priority.

Among the myriad of decisions we make, selecting a life insurance policy stands paramount.

However, what happens when this policy lapses?

Here’s an in-depth look into why these lapses occur, their repercussions, and how seniors can fortify their family’s financial future.

What is The Consequence of a Lapsed Policy?

Life is unpredictable.

Often, amidst a whirlwind of doctor’s appointments, family gatherings, and managing daily chores, we might overlook an important detail: the life insurance premium payment.

Missing this critical payment can lead to a policy lapse.

In layman’s terms, a policy lapse occurs when one fails to make timely premium payments.

So, why does this matter?

For seniors, ensuring that life insurance stays active is not just about leaving an inheritance.

It’s about leaving behind peace of mind, ensuring that final expenses aren’t a burden and facilitating a smooth transition for loved ones during an emotionally taxing time.

Missing a movie date with a grandchild might lead to temporary disappointment, but letting a life insurance policy lapse can have long-lasting consequences.

Firstly, without the safety net of an insurance policy, the sudden demise of a senior can lead to unexpected financial strains on their family.

These strains encompass not just funeral costs but also outstanding debts or medical bills.

Moreover, reinstating a lapsed policy or seeking a new one might mean higher premiums.

Sometimes, the senior might need to undergo medical tests again, further complicating the process.

Avoiding Lapsed Policies

Fortunately, with a pinch of vigilance and a dash of planning, preventing a policy lapse is achievable. Here are some strategies:

  1. Embrace Technology: Keeping your automated bank draft on point for premium due dates.
  2. Prioritize Payments: Dedicate a part of the monthly budget explicitly for insurance premiums.
  3. Stay in touch with your agent: Regularly review the policy terms and life changes with your agent.

Reinstating a Lapsed Policy

A lapse is not the end of the road.

Many insurance companies offer seniors a grace period—a short window post the due date during which the policy remains active.

If the premium is paid during this period, the policy continues without any hiccups.

If the grace period expires, reinstatement might still be an option.

However, this often requires a thorough understanding of the reinstatement clause and might entail penalties or new health evaluations.

Demystifying Life Insurance Terms

The world of insurance comes with its jargon. Grasping some key terms can empower seniors to make informed decisions:

  • Grace Period: A duration post the premium due date during which the policy remains active.
  • Reinstatement Clause: Policy terms detailing the revival of a lapsed policy.

The Tricky Terrain of Penalties and Gaps

Letting a policy lapse might not only mean loss of coverage.

Seniors could face financial penalties or higher future premiums.

Additionally, the period between the lapse and reinstatement or acquisition of a new policy creates a coverage gap.

This gap can be a gamble, especially if unforeseen health issues crop up.

The Ripple Effects of a Lapsed Policy

When you secure a life insurance policy, your independent agent, commonly termed the “agent of record,” typically earns an upfront commission from the insurer (the insurance carrier)

This payment (commission) is how the agent earns a living.

The basis of this, is that you, as the policyholder, will honor your end of the deal by regularly paying your premiums.

But, if there’s a hiccup and your policy lapses (meaning you halt your premium payments), a sequence of financial dominos falls:

  1. Reversal on the Agent: The insurance carrier swings into action by enacting a “reversal.” In essence, they pull back the commission once handed to the agent, seeing as they won’t be receiving the anticipated funds from the policyholder anymore. Also known as a “chargeback” Often cases depending on how much time has passed, it is a full chargeback or the full advancement. As an agent, that must be paid back to the insurance carrier.
  2. Loss of Premiums for the Policyholder: As someone holding the policy, you should be aware that a lapse isn’t just about stopped payments. The premiums you’ve already paid to the insurer generally remain with them. Think of these payments as fees for the protection you enjoyed up until the lapse occurred.
  3. The Larger Concern: A lapsed policy means you and your family are left without the protection and peace of mind the insurance was meant to provide. In the event of an unforeseen circumstance, your family could face significant financial burdens without the safety net of the life insurance policy.

In a nutshell, while the agent grapples with financial setbacks in the form of reversals, you risk not just the money poured into the premiums but, more gravely, the reassuring safety and tranquility that life insurance promises, Protecting your loved ones from the financial burdens.

Getting Your Money from Life Insurance

Do you know about the money that builds up inside some life insurance policies? Yup, it’s called cash value. If you’ve ever wondered how to get that money out of your policy.

It’s kind of like a secret savings account! That’s the cash value I’m talking about. Cool, right? I know, it sounds a bit fancy, but it’s just the money you can get from certain life insurance policies.

Common Reasons for Policy Lapses

  • Financial Difficulties: Sometimes, money gets tight. Maybe there’s an unexpected bill, a job loss, or just a tough month financially. When choosing between essentials like food and utilities, insurance payments might get pushed to the side.
  • Forgetting About Renewal Dates: Life’s busy, and if you don’t have reminders set, it’s easy to forget about insurance renewal dates. Before you know it, the due date comes and goes, leading to a lapse.
  • Banking Changes: If you’ve set up automatic payments from your bank, any changes to your bank account can disrupt this. Maybe you switched banks, got a new card, or there were insufficient funds when the insurance company tried to withdraw.
  • Miscommunication: Sometimes, it’s as simple as not getting a reminder or bill in the mail. Maybe the insurance company has an old address, or the email went to the spam folder.
  • Thinking It’s Not Necessary: Some folks might feel that they no longer need life insurance, especially if kids have grown up or there have been other significant life changes. They might intentionally stop paying, not realizing the consequences.

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Q: Is it easier to get a new policy or reinstate a lapsed one?
A: While it varies, reinstating can often be quicker. A new policy could mean a more extended evaluation process.

Q: Does one lapse affect all my insurance policies?
A: No, each policy operates independently. A lapse in one doesn’t impact others.

Q: Why don’t they give back the money I already gave them if I’m not insured anymore?

A: If you buy a ticket to a concert or a movie and miss the show, the theater does not give you a refund. So it is the same with the insurance company, the money you give them is ensuring your families protection. A safety net for a while. Even if you don’t show up and drop the coverage, they were still there for you to catch your family for a period of time.

Q: Any tips so I don’t let my insurance lapse again?

A: When the budget gets tight, our first instinct to let the insurance policy lapse. There are solutions to avoid this! You can actually lower your face amount (coverage) and that brings your premium down to a more comfortable monthly payment. This way, your coverage is still in tact. There are no gaps in coverage and your family still has peace of mind! You don’t miss a beat! When life happens, call your insurance agent.

Conclusion: Safeguarding the Legacy

For seniors, life insurance isn’t just a policy; it’s a promise—a commitment to their family’s well-being.

By understanding the nuances of policy lapses, its consequences, and prevention strategies, seniors can ensure that their promise remains unbroken, leaving behind a legacy of security and love.

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