Bedrock Products

Rediscovering Whole Life

There are safer ways to guide your clients through today’s financial minefields

by Lewis W. Merrow, MBA, CLU, ChFC, RHU, REBC, FLMI, CEBS

Mr. Merrow, a third-generation life insurance salesman, is Regional Vice President for Mutual Trust Life insurance Company, a Pan-American Life Insurance Group Stock Company. Connect with him by telephone at 800-486-8887, or by email at

Industry reports show that whole life insurance sales represent 36% of the marketplace—not bad for a product that’s been around for a long time!

According to a 2015 LIMRA “Sales Survey,” buyers prefer whole life because “it’s straight forward and offers premium and cash value guarantees, along with lifetime coverage.” And while my focus here is on whole life, I think it’s important to say that the “best” type of policy to have is the one that’s in force when you die.

The advantage advisors have today is that there are so many “tools” that can be used to help fund the needs of their clients. The spectrum of products available is broad, and when coupled with the scores of riders and living benefit provisions advisors have access to, the opportunity to customize solutions for their clients has never been better.


While whole life has been a consistently dependable product, it seems that in the last few years it has been “rediscovered.” When I talk with clients and top agents in the industry, what seems to be the key reason for this is the word “guarantees.”

  • Whole life offers:
  • Guaranteed Death Benefit
  • Guaranteed Cash Values
  • Guaranteed Premiums
  • Guaranteed Non-Forfeiture provisions

(And if the product is offered by a mutual life insurance company, while not guaranteed, the dividends declared can further help a policyholder.)

Your clients face a daily barrage of financial minefields: the Wall Street roller coaster, regulatory changes, increasing tax impacts, so-called media financial “experts,” overwhelming access to information, low/no interest rates and a Rolaids-inducing economy.

Your clients need you to help sort through the financial “noise,” and I am convinced that this is the best time for you to help them recognize shortfalls, prioritize their needs, customize options, implement funding solutions and then monitor them. Your clients need you!

Again, if you are comfortable selling one of the many other products, that’s great. Because of you, families, businesses and retirees have protection—and that’s a good thing. However, recognizing that 36% of life insurance sales are whole life, you may want to check out what the “buzz” is all about.

Fundamentally, whole life insurance is designed to offer permanent protection for a lifetime while still allowing the policyholder liquidity (via policy loans/withdrawals/access to dividends), use (the values are there for an emergency, opportunity or retirement income supplement) and control (they can pick when they take distributions) of their money.
Business owners, in particular, seem to appreciate the freedom to borrow against their policy without being subjected to time delays or credit checks—and with no fixed repayment schedule required.


Fundamentally, whole life insurance is designed to offer permanent protection for a lifetime while still allowing the policyholder liquidity... use... and control

I’ve heard that some advisors don’t feel whole life is flexible. I’d suggest you revisit the contractual provisions, benefits, and riders offered with a participating whole life policy.

What I hear with “not flexible” is that it seems to mean the premiums are not flexible. If you look at the many dividend options, your clients can have everything from increasing death benefits (paid-up additions); reducing premiums (change the dividend option to reduce); pay a lower premium (if dividends are available they can be withdrawn to pay all or a part of a premium due); to “stopping” the policy without a surrender (put on reduced paid-up). Many companies offer flexible paid-up addition riders that can really “turbo-charge” the flexibility of cash accumulation and premium flexibility.

Another “thing” I’ve heard is that a policy owner can accumulate more long-term cash value with some of the other available products. Probably you can if the illustrated interest rates perform and there are no in-force increases in mortality and expense charges (if allowed by that specific policy form).

My dad was a very successful life insurance professional, and one of his key lessons to me was that sometimes people are simply looking for “peace of mind.” Whole life can be very useful for people who want the safety and guarantees whole life offers and the financial peace of mind it provides – from the death benefit, to the contractually guaranteed cash values. People have money in investments, low interest rate bank accounts, IRAs, and 401(k) plans. Financial diversity makes sense, but sometimes your clients need “certainty” in their lives, and whole life can do this for them.


Help your clients understand that there is a need for permanent life insurance. Yes, it’s an appropriate solution when they need a death benefit, but a well-designed policy also can help them not just because they’re going to die, but because they’re going to live. My dad used to say that life insurance is a “permission slip” that allows policy owners and their beneficiaries the “freedom to live.” Whole Life provides strength, reliability and peace-of-mind.

We’ve all heard the expression “something old is new again.” Why not take a look at whole life and see if you can “rediscover” why it has been such a consistently strong and proven product. ◊