Understanding What Does In Force Mean for Life Insurance: Everything You Need to Know

If you’re interested in life insurance, you may have come across the term “in force” at some point throughout your research. But what exactly does that mean? Put simply, “in force” when it comes to life insurance refers to a policy that is active and being paid for. It means that the policyholder has fulfilled all the necessary requirements and is currently benefiting from the coverage it provides.

If you’re wondering why this matters, it’s important to understand that life insurance policies typically have a period of time during which payments must be made in order to keep the policy “in force.” If payments aren’t made, the policy can become lapsed and lose its value. Additionally, if the policyholder were to pass away while the policy is lapsed, their beneficiaries would not receive the death benefit payout. That’s why it’s crucial to keep a policy in force if you want to ensure your loved ones are financially protected in the event of your unexpected passing.

So, what can you do if your life insurance policy has lapsed and is no longer in force? The answer depends on the specific policy and situation, but options could include reinstating the policy by satisfying the necessary requirements, purchasing a new policy altogether, or seeking guidance from a financial advisor or insurance agent. Understanding what “in force” means for life insurance policies can help you make informed decisions about your coverage and protect the well-being of those you love most.

Definition of In Force for Life Insurance

In force is a term used in the life insurance industry that refers to policies that are active and in effect. These policies are being paid for by the policyholder and the insurance company is responsible for paying out the death benefit to the beneficiary if the policyholder dies during the policy term.

It’s important to note that just because a policy is in force, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s guaranteed to stay that way. Policyholders need to make sure they continue to pay their premiums in a timely manner to keep their policy in force. Otherwise, the policy may lapse, meaning it’s no longer in effect and the policyholder won’t receive any benefits if they were to pass away.

What Determines if a Policy is In Force?

  • The policyholder must have paid their premiums in full and on time
  • The policy must not have expired or been cancelled by the policyholder
  • The policy must meet all necessary requirements outlined by the insurance company

What Happens if a Policy Lapses?

If a policy lapses, the policyholder is no longer covered and the insurance company won’t pay out any benefits to the beneficiary if the policyholder were to pass away. However, in some cases, the policyholder may be able to reinstate their policy by paying any missed premiums, as well as any interest or penalties imposed by the insurance company.

It’s important for policyholders to stay on top of their premium payments and to contact their insurance company if they are having trouble making payments. Some insurance companies offer flexible payment plans or other options to help policyholders keep their policies in force.

In Force Illustration

Policy Details Policy Status
Policyholder: John Smith In Force
Policy Type: Whole Life Insurance In Force
Policy Number: 123456789 In Force
Premium Amount: $200 per month In Force
Policy Term: Lifetime In Force
Death Benefit: $500,000 In Force

In this illustration, John Smith’s whole life insurance policy is in force because he has been paying his premiums on time and the policy meets all necessary requirements outlined by the insurance company. If John were to pass away during the policy term, his beneficiary would receive a death benefit payout of $500,000.

Importance of keeping life insurance policies in force

Life insurance is an essential part of financial planning that helps provide financial security to your loved ones in the event of your untimely death. However, simply purchasing a life insurance policy does not guarantee that your beneficiaries will receive the death benefit. It is essential to keep your life insurance policy in force to ensure that your beneficiaries receive the death benefit. Let’s take a look at why it is important to keep your life insurance policies in force:

  • Guaranteed protection for loved ones: Keeping your life insurance policy in force guarantees that your loved ones are protected financially in your absence. As insurance is designed to provide financial assistance in difficult times, it is only possible to receive a payout if the policy is in force when the policyholder passes away. Letting your policy lapse can leave your loved ones unprotected and create financial hardship in an already difficult time.
  • Better premiums: Most life insurance policies are purchased based on the policyholder’s age and health while taking into account other factors such as lifestyle, occupation, and hobbies. If you let your policy lapse, you may have to requalify for life insurance, which can mean paying higher premiums or, in some cases, being unable to get coverage at all. Keeping your policy in force ensures that you continue paying premiums based on the original terms of the policy.
  • Built-in savings: Many life insurance policies have a savings component called cash value. The cash value grows over time, and the policyholder can borrow against it or make withdrawals. However, the policy must be in force to build cash value. Additionally, if the policy is canceled, any cash value will be forfeited.

There are several reasons why a policy may lapse or terminate, including non-payment of premiums, policyholder’s request, or expiration of the term. Here are some tips to help ensure that your life insurance policy stays in force:

  • Set up automatic payments: By setting up automatic payments, you can ensure that your premiums get paid on time and reduce the chances of your policy lapsing due to non-payment of premiums.
  • Read and understand your policy: Review your policy documents and understand the terms and conditions of your policy so that you can keep it in force according to the policy’s requirements.
  • Communicate with your insurer: If you are experiencing financial difficulties and can’t make your premium payments, talk to your insurer. Many insurers offer options such as a grace period, premium reduction or debt forgiveness to help keep your policy in force.

Bonus tip: Regularly review and update your policy

As your life changes, so do your needs. For example, you may have had a child, retired, or got a new job with different benefits. Therefore it’s important to review your policy regularly to ensure it still meets your coverage needs. Make sure to communicate any changes with your insurer and update your policy accordingly.


Keeping your life insurance policy in force provides financial protection for your loved ones in the event of your untimely death and can also help alleviate financial stress at a difficult time. By understanding the importance of keeping your policy in force, regularly reviewing it, and communicating with your insurer, you can ensure that your loved ones are protected and that you get the most out of your life insurance policy.

Advantages of keeping your life insurance policy in force Disadvantages of letting your life insurance policy lapse
Guaranteed protection for loved ones Loved ones are left unprotected financially
Better premiums Potentially higher premiums or unable to get coverage
Built-in savings Forfeit of any cash value

By understanding the importance of keeping your life insurance policy in force, you can help provide financial protection to your loved ones and take advantage of the built-in benefits.

Consequences of letting life insurance policies lapse

Forgetting to pay your premiums or deciding to cancel your life insurance policy can have long-term consequences. Not only will you lose the coverage that you had been paying for, but letting your policy lapse can have a negative impact on your financial future and your loved ones.

  • Loss of coverage: The most obvious consequence of letting your life insurance policy lapse is that you will lose coverage. If you were to pass away after your policy has lapsed, your beneficiaries will not receive any benefits and will be left to cover any final expenses or debts out of pocket.
  • No cash value: If you have a permanent life insurance policy, such as whole life or universal life, letting your policy lapse means that you will lose any accumulated cash value. This can be a significant financial loss depending on how long you had the policy and how much you had paid in premiums.
  • Higher premiums: If you decide to apply for a new life insurance policy after letting your prior policy lapse, you may be subject to higher premiums. Life insurance premiums are typically based on your age and health, so if you had let your policy lapse for a few years, your age may have gone up which could result in higher premiums. Additionally, if you had any health issues in the meantime, you would also be subject to a higher premium.

Letting your life insurance policy lapse should not be taken lightly. It is important to understand the financial consequences before making a decision to cancel or stop paying your premiums.

If you are unable to continue paying your premiums, there may be alternative options available to you, such as a reduced paid-up policy or a term conversion. Speak with your life insurance agent or company about your options before making any decisions.

If you do decide to let your policy lapse, make sure to inform your beneficiaries so that they are aware of the change in coverage.

Grace periods

It is important to note that most life insurance policies come with a grace period. This is a period of time, usually 30 or 31 days, in which you can still pay your premium without your policy lapsing. However, if you do not make the payment within the grace period, your policy will lapse.

Lapse ratios

Lapse ratios are an important metric for life insurance companies. These ratios measure the percentage of policies that have lapsed in a given year. A high lapse ratio can signal financial difficulties for the insurance company and may lead to higher premiums or reduced coverage options for policyholders.

Year Lapse Ratio
2020 6%
2019 5%
2018 4%

Monitoring the lapse ratios of different insurance companies can be helpful when selecting a policy to ensure that the company is financially stable and able to provide coverage for the long-term.

How to Reinstate a Lapsed Life Insurance Policy

If you have missed paying your life insurance premiums and your policy has lapsed, you might think that you have lost all the money paid, and the coverage. However, you can still get your life insurance policy back on track by reinstating the policy.

Reinstating the policy can be a hassle, but it is possible if you follow the steps mentioned below:

  • Contact your insurance company: The first step is to contact your insurance company and find out the reason for the lapse and the procedure for reinstating the policy.
  • Pay the outstanding premiums: In most cases, you will have to pay all the outstanding premiums with interest before the policy can be reinstated. Your insurance company might also charge a reinstatement fee.
  • Provide updated information: You might be required to provide updated information about your health, finances, and occupation. This information will be used by the insurance company to determine your insurability and the premiums you have to pay.

What Happens if You Can’t Reinstate the Policy?

If you are unable to reinstate the policy, you can still get some money back by surrendering the policy. Surrendering the policy means that you are canceling the policy, and the insurance company will pay you the surrender value.

The surrender value is the money that the insurance company has accumulated in the policy minus the surrender charge. The surrender charge is a fee that the insurance company charges for early cancellation of the policy. The surrender value is less than the total premiums paid, but it is better than losing all the money paid.

What is the Grace Period?

The grace period is the time frame within which you can pay your premium without any penalty or lapse in the policy. The grace period varies from policy to policy, but it is usually 30 or 31 days. The grace period starts from the premium due date.

Grace Period Example
Premium Due Date: January 1st
Grace Period: 31 days
Deadline to pay premium: January 31st

It is important to pay your premium within the grace period to avoid any lapse in the policy. If you miss the grace period, your policy will lapse, and you will have to go through the process of reinstating the policy.

Factors that affect a life insurance policy’s in force status

When it comes to life insurance policies, the in force status refers to whether or not the policy is currently active and being upheld by both the insurance company and the policyholder. There are several factors that can affect the status of a life insurance policy, including:

  • Payment history: One of the most significant factors impacting a life insurance policy’s in force status is the policyholder’s payment history. If a policyholder consistently misses payments or falls behind on premium payments, the policy may lapse, and they will lose coverage.
  • Policy terms: Different types of life insurance policies have varying terms and conditions that can impact their in force status. For example, term life insurance policies only remain in force for a set period, whereas permanent life insurance policies last for the policyholder’s entire life as long as payments are made.
  • Policy changes: Making changes to a policy, such as reducing the amount of coverage or switching to a different type of policy, can impact its in force status. Some changes may require a new application and underwriting process.

Another factor that can impact the in force status of a life insurance policy is the policy’s cash value. This value represents the amount that a policyholder can receive if they cancel the policy before it matures or borrow against it. If the policy’s cash value is insufficient to cover the policy’s outstanding loans, the policy may lapse.

Understanding the Cash Surrender Value

The cash surrender value of a life insurance policy represents the amount the policyholder will receive when they voluntarily choose to cancel their policy before its maturity. When a policyholder surrenders a permanent life insurance policy, the insurance company will pay out the policy’s face value, less any outstanding loans or fees. If the policyholder has had the policy in force for many years, the cash surrender value can be substantial. The longer the policy has been in force, the higher the cash surrender value will typically be.

Policy Year Guaranteed Cash Value Non-Guaranteed Cash Value
1 $3,000 $3,500
5 $5,000 $6,500
10 $7,500 $9,500
15 $10,000 $14,000

It’s important to note that the cash surrender value may be a taxable event. Policyholders should review their tax situation with a qualified tax professional before making any decisions about surrendering their policy.

Comparing in force policies to new policies

When it comes to life insurance, there are two types of policies available – in force policies and new policies. In force policies are those that are currently active and have been paying out benefits for some time, while new policies are those that are freshly issued and yet to pay out any benefit. It’s important for individuals to understand the differences between the two options so they can make an informed decision about which one is best for their needs. In this article, we’ll explore the differences between in force policies and new policies so you can have a better understanding of which one is right for you.

  • Premium comparison: One of the most significant differences between in force policies and new policies is the overall cost. Generally, in force policies tend to be less expensive than new policies. This is because once a policy has been in place for a while, the risk associated with insuring the person decreases. Thus, monthly premiums for an in force policy are likely to be lower than those for a new policy.
  • Coverage and benefits comparison: In force policies generally offer the same coverage and benefits as new policies. However, it’s important to review the policy to ensure that it meets your current needs. If your circumstances have changed, you may want to consider purchasing a new policy that better aligns with your current situation.
  • Underwriting comparison: Another difference between in force policies and new policies is the underwriting process. When you apply for a new policy, you’ll be required to answer questions about your medical history, and in some cases, submit to a medical exam. In contrast, with an in force policy, you’ve already gone through the underwriting process. So, provided that your health hasn’t changed significantly, you won’t need to go through it again.

It’s important to remember that every individual’s needs are unique. While in force policies might be less expensive, they might not always be the best option for your current situation. Similarly, while new policies can offer more tailored coverage, they might be more expensive due to increased risk. Ultimately, it’s essential to do your research and shop around for the best policy to meet your current needs and protect your loved ones in the future.

Differences Between In Force and New Policies

In Force Policies New Policies
Active policies that have been in effect for some time Freshly issued policies that have yet to pay out a benefit
Tend to be less expensive due to decreased risk Can be more expensive due to increased risk
Generally offer the same coverage and benefits as new policies Offer more tailored coverage options for your current needs
Don’t require a new underwriting process if your health hasn’t changed Require a new underwriting process that involves a medical history and potentially a medical exam

Ultimately, when deciding between in force and new life insurance policies, it’s essential to consider factors such as cost, coverage, and overall need. By doing so, you can make an informed decision that protects yourself and your loved ones for many years to come.

Common Misconceptions About In Force Life Insurance Policies

Many people misunderstand the concept of in force life insurance policies, leading to several misconceptions regarding the policy’s effectiveness and what it offers. Here are some common misconceptions you may have heard:

  • Confusing “in force” with “binding”: Some people believe that an in force policy is the same as a binding policy, but that is not the case. Binding means that the policy is legally enforceable, while in force refers to the current status of the policy.
  • Assuming coverage is indefinite: In force only means that premiums have been paid, and the policy is active. It does not guarantee that the policy will remain in effect indefinitely unless specified as a “paid-up” policy.
  • Thinking in force policies have a cash value: While it may be true that a permanent life insurance policy may accumulate cash value over time, not all policies have that feature. Also, the policy’s cash value and death benefit are separate, and the cash value does not equal the policy’s face value.
  • Believing that in force policies cannot be changed: While an in force policy means that the terms and conditions set out in the contract are currently active, it does not mean that they cannot be changed later on if both parties agree to the changes.
  • Thinking in force policies cannot be canceled: All policies, including those that are currently in force, can be canceled voluntarily or involuntarily. If canceled voluntarily, the insured may be eligible for a refund of a portion of the premiums, depending on the policy terms.
  • Believing that in force policies are the same across all providers: Different insurance providers may have different policies, riders, and other options, which means that in force policies may vary from one provider to another.
  • Assuming payments are no longer necessary: As long as a policyholder wants to keep their in force policy in effect, they must continue to pay the premiums. Not paying premiums may cause the policy to lapse, which means the policy is no longer effective.

What Does In Force Mean for Life Insurance: Explained

Now that we have dispelled some common misconceptions let us discuss what it means to have an “in force” life insurance policy. Simply put, it means that the policy is currently active, and the premium payments are up-to-date. Here’s a quick list of what being in force entails:

Types of Life Insurance What In Force Means
Term life insurance The policy is active, and the premium payments are current. The policyholder must continue paying premiums to keep this type of policy in force.
Permanent life insurance The policy is active, the premium payments are up-to-date, and the policyholder may accrue cash value over time. The policyholder can access the cash value through a policy loan or withdrawal, but doing so may affect the death benefit. The policyholder must continue paying premiums to keep this type of policy in force.
Paid-up Life Insurance The policy is active, the policyholder has paid the required premiums in full, and the policy is guaranteed to remain in force for the remainder of the policyholder’s life, without the need for further premium payments.

An in force policy can be a valuable asset, providing peace of mind and financial protection for both the policyholder and their beneficiaries. Understanding what an in force policy means and the common misconceptions surrounding it can help you make informed decisions about your life insurance coverage.

Frequently Asked Questions: What Does In Force Mean for Life Insurance?

Q: What does “in force” mean for life insurance?
A: “In force” means that your life insurance policy is active and valid. It means you have paid your premiums on time and your coverage is still in place.

Q: How is “in force” different from “lapsed”?
A: A life insurance policy that is “lapsed” means that the coverage has been terminated due to nonpayment of premiums. When a policy is “in force,” the insurance company is obligated to pay the benefit if the insured passes away during the coverage period.

Q: Can a policy be “in force” and still have changes made to it?
A: Yes, a policy can be “in force” and still have changes made to it. You can modify the policy by adding or removing riders, changing the death benefit, or adjusting the premium payments. However, any changes made will go into effect after the modification has been approved.

Q: What happens if I miss a premium payment while my policy is “in force”?
A: If you miss a premium payment, your policy may enter a grace period before it becomes “lapsed.” The length of the grace period can vary between insurance carriers and policy types, but typically it’s around 30 days. If you still don’t pay the premium within the grace period, your policy will be terminated.

Closing Thoughts

We hope this article answered your questions about what “in force” means for life insurance. Remember, keeping your policy “in force” is critical to ensure that your loved ones are protected in the event of your passing. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your insurance agent or provider. Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you again soon.