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  • What is an in-force illustration?
  • August 2, 2013
  • Tony Steuer

    By Tony Steuer, CLU, LA

    An in-force illustration is the only way to gauge the potential future performance of a policy by using actual values and current assumptions (i.e., actual interest rate, current mortality and expense factors) to produce a current policy illustration.

    It allows you to compare past (actual) performance with anticipated performance.

    In other words, you are using actual performance as a measure rather than the original projections in the sales illustration generated at the time of purchase.

    An illustration like this can be requested from the life insurance company; it can take anywhere from a couple days to a few weeks to receive them. They should be reported annually or at least every other year to assure that your policy is meeting the initial objective goals.

    An in-force life insurance illustration is used to gauge the potential performance of a policy.

    This type of illustration is available for all permanent (cash value) life insurance policies, where the policy and it values are not fully guaranteed.

    Sample request forms for an in-force ledger illustration for a universal life policy can be found here.

    Depending on your situation, you can ask for other in-force illustrations.

    For example, if the policy was originally designed on a limited premium payment schedule, you can request the company to furnish an in-force illustration to determine how many more years the premium will actually need to be paid.

    Every life insurance company has their own way to formatting an in-force illustration.

    Over the last few years, due to many abuses and the need to provide a greater degree of consumer protection, in-force illustration became greater in length, which now provides significantly more information than in prior years.

    Please keep in mind that for the most part, every company’s illustration is different, as is each of their products by necessity.

    Permanent (cash value) policies have non-guaranteed variables that may change over time, including interest rates varying investment results and cost of insurance charges. All of these variables have a dramatic impact on how a policy will perform in the future.

    Life insurance agents use in-force illustrations to help demonstrate how a policy may perform; but, keep in mind, that these projection may be different than what actual happens.

    With an in-force illustration, a policy owner can evaluate the performance of the policy to date and project how the policy may perform in the future.

    If you see a dramatic difference in the potential performance of your policy and the actual performance, there may be more than meets the eye. Meaning, you may need to press your agent or someone at the company to resolve an issue like this.

    If you’re hitting a brick wall with your agent and/or insurance company, seek out assistance from a life insurance analyst/consultant, your state’s Department of Insurance or email me at

About Tony Steuer

Noted insurance author Tony Steuer has spent over 25 years in the life insurance industry. Steuer’s leadership roles include serving on the California Department of Insurance Curriculum board and the National Financial Educator's Council Curriculum Advisory Panel as well as having served as President of the San Francisco Chapter of the American Society of CLU & ChFC, President of the leading Life Insurance Producers of Northern California, and as a board member of the San Francisco Life Underwriters Association. Mr. Steuer is the author of Questions and Answers on Life Insurance: The Life Insurance Toolbook, The Questions and Answers on Life Insurance Workbook and The Questions and Answers on Disability Insurance Workbook - the first two were awarded the “Excellence in Financial Literacy (EIFLE) Award from the Institute of Financial Literacy. Steuer holds a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designation and also holds the Life and Disability Insurance Analyst License, a designation that is held by less than thirty people in California.

Creative Commons License
Questions & Answers on Life Insurance by Tony Steuer, CLU, LA, CPFFE is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

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