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TIAA-CREF to offer variable universal life insurance to all

Best known for its investment and insurance offerings to teachers and other education and research employees, TIAA-CREF Life Insurance Co. is now offering variable universal life insurance (VUL) policies to the general public.


"Lack of surrender charges can be among the most important benefits if you are concerned with flexibility."

The VULs, which follow TIAA-CREF's offerings last year of annual renewable and 20-year level term life insurance policies, offer flexibility in coverage and payments, tax-deferred cash value, and subaccount options. What sets offerings apart, says Vic Gainor, second vice president for TIAA-CREF life, are the low policy expenses and lack of surrender charges and sales loads.

"If you make an insurance purchase that a few years down the road is no longer appropriate and you have to pay surrender fees, you might discover that the insurance was a lot more expensive than you thought it was," says Gainor. "Lack of surrender charges can be among the most important benefits if you are concerned with flexibility."

According to Gainor, TIAA-CREF is able to keep its insurance and fund management expenses among the lowest in the industry because it pays no commission to sales agents, selling VULs directly or through fee-only financial advisors.

TIAA-CREF offers both single-life and survivorship — also known as second-to-die insurance — VUL policies. Policyholders can allocate their cash value in a fixed-rate account that is based on the claims-paying ability of TIAA-CREF Life or to:

  • A stock index account.
  • A growth equity account.
  • A growth and income account.
  • An international equity account.
  • A social choice equity account.

The TIAA-CREF VULs are available to United States residents younger than age 80. Minimum coverage starts at $100,000 for single-life policies and $250,000 for survivorship VULs.

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