What Happens to Life Insurance When Your Mortgage Is Paid Off?
Many people take out life insurance policies to cover an outstanding mortgage balance. But what happens when you make that final mortgage payment and the home loan is completely paid off? Is your life insurance still necessary or can you cancel it?
There are a few considerations regarding your life policy once you become mortgage-free.
Does Your Policy Have Any Value?
The first thing to check is whether your life insurance plan accumulated any cash value, savings, or investments as you paid into it. Some types like whole life insurance have this feature.
If so, your policy may have a substantial cash-in value even with the mortgage gone. You generally don’t want to cancel a policy and lose this built up value. Some options instead of fully cancelling include:
- Keep the policy and withdraw/borrow the cash amount as supplemental retirement income.
- Use the cash value as a premium offset to reduce future premium costs.
- Convert the policy type or death benefit amount to fit your new needs and maintain the cash value.
If you have a term life policy, which only provides pure protection without savings or investment components, it likely has no remaining value once the mortgage terminates.
Do You Still Need Life Insurance?
Next consider whether life insurance still makes sense for your financial situation post-mortgage.
Even without a specific debt to cover, the death benefit could be useful for:
- Replacing your lost income for family living expenses
- Funding college savings for children
- Final expenses and funeral costs
- Estate taxes
- Leaving an inheritance or gift
If your financial obligations didn’t disappear along with the mortgage, maintaining coverage is probably wise. You can usually reduce the amount of insurance needed, but cancelling entirely may leave loved ones vulnerable.
When Can I Cancel My Policy?
If you determine life insurance is no longer necessary once mortgage-free:
- Make sure your policy doesn’t have a cash value or savings you’ll lose by cancelling now.
- Check if there are any early termination fees for cancelling before the policy expires.
- Contact your insurer to begin the cancellation process. You will need to provide written notice.
- Let your beneficiaries know the policy will be terminated so they don’t try to file a claim later.
What About Critical Illness or Income Protection?
It’s also worth evaluating whether to maintain any other insurance policies like critical illness cover or income protection alongside your life insurance.
While these serve purposes beyond just the mortgage, you may be able to adjust coverage amounts or policy terms to better suit your new needs. As with life insurance, don’t terminate valuable active policies without careful consideration.
A mortgage payoff is a major life change that gives you an opportunity to reassess insurance needs. Make adjustments to match your new situation, but don’t cancel quality policies without understanding the implications. Policy values and protection matter beyond just debts.