Understanding Automatic Premium Loans: A Crucial Aspect of Financial Management

October 17, 2023

Understanding Automatic Premium Loans: A Comprehensive Guide


An Automatic Premium Loan (APL) is a financial mechanism commonly used in the insurance industry to ensure uninterrupted coverage of insurance policies. It is a provision that allows policyholders to automatically pay their outstanding premium amounts by borrowing against the cash value of their policies. The purpose of this article is to provide a comprehensive guide to automatic premium loans, explaining their purpose, mechanics, benefits, considerations and potential drawbacks.

1. How Automatic Premium Loans Work

Automatic Premium Loans are designed to prevent the lapse or cancellation of an insurance policy due to non-payment of premiums. If a policyholder fails to pay their premium on time, the insurer can activate the automatic premium loan provision. This provision allows the insurer to lend the policyholder the required premium amount from the policy’s cash value. The loan is usually subject to interest that accrues over time.
Once the automatic premium loan is activated, the outstanding premium is paid to keep the policy in force. The loaned amount, along with accrued interest, is added to the policy’s outstanding debt. If the policyholder does not repay the loan, the outstanding debt will continue to increase and may eventually deplete the policy’s cash value.

2. Advantages of Automatic Premium Loans

Automatic Premium Loans provide several benefits to policyholders:

Continued coverage: The primary benefit of automatic premium loans is that they prevent the policy from lapsing due to non-payment. This ensures that the policyholder maintains continuous coverage without having to reapply for insurance, undergo underwriting, or potentially face higher premiums or policy exclusions due to health changes.

Convenience: Automatic premium credits eliminate the need for manual premium payments, reducing the administrative burden on policyholders. Once activated, premiums are automatically paid from the policy’s cash value, providing a hassle-free solution for maintaining coverage.

3. Policyholder Considerations

While automatic premium loans can be beneficial, policyholders should consider the following factors:

Accrued interest: The amount borrowed from the automatic premium loan is subject to interest, which accumulates over time. Policyholders should be aware of the interest rate charged by the insurer and understand the impact of interest on the cash value of the policy. It is important to evaluate the long-term affordability of the loan and consider alternative premium payment options if necessary.

Loan repayment: Policyholders should have a clear understanding of the repayment terms of the automatic premium loan. If the loan is not repaid, the outstanding debt will continue to grow, potentially depleting the policy’s cash value and reducing the death benefit. It is important to assess the financial ability to repay the loan and explore repayment strategies to mitigate the impact on the policy.

4. Potential Disadvantages of Automatic Premium Loans

While automatic premium loans can be beneficial, there are potential drawbacks to consider:
Reduced cash value: The amount borrowed through an automatic premium loan reduces the policy’s cash value. As the outstanding debt increases over time, it can significantly impact the policy’s cash value and its ability to accumulate dividends or earn income. Policyholders should carefully consider the long-term impact on the policy’s cash value before taking advantage of the automatic premium loan feature.

Impact on Death Benefit: If the automatic premium loan is not repaid, the outstanding debt, including accrued interest, may reduce the policy’s death benefit. This may affect the intended level of coverage and the financial protection provided to beneficiaries. Policyholders should consider the impact on the death benefit and evaluate alternative strategies to maintain the desired level of coverage.


Automatic premium loans are a valuable feature of insurance policies that help policyholders maintain continuous coverage by automatically borrowing against the policy’s cash value to pay outstanding premiums. While they offer benefits such as continuous coverage and convenience, policyholders should carefully consider factors such as accrued interest and loan repayment. In addition, the potential drawbacks, including reduced cash value and the impact on the death benefit, should be thoroughly evaluated. By understanding the mechanics and considerations of automatic premium loans, policyholders can make informed decisions about their coverage and financial planning.


What is an automatic premium loan?

An automatic premium loan is a provision in a life insurance policy that allows the insurance company to automatically borrow funds from the policy’s cash value to cover unpaid premiums. This loan is initiated when the policyholder fails to pay the premium amount by the due date.

How does an automatic premium loan work?

When a policyholder misses a premium payment, the insurance company will use the cash value of the policy to cover the unpaid premium through an automatic premium loan. The loan amount is typically the outstanding premium amount plus any interest or charges associated with the loan. The insurance company will deduct this loan amount from the policy’s cash value.

What happens if an automatic premium loan is taken?

When an automatic premium loan is taken, the policyholder’s outstanding premium is considered paid, and the policy remains in force. However, the loan amount incurs interest, which is charged by the insurance company. If the loan and accumulated interest are not repaid, it can reduce the death benefit of the policy when it pays out.

Can an automatic premium loan be repaid?

Yes, an automatic premium loan can be repaid by the policyholder. The policyholder has the option to repay the loan at any time, either in full or in installments. Repaying the loan helps to restore the policy’s cash value and prevent the reduction of the death benefit over time.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of an automatic premium loan?

The advantages of an automatic premium loan are that it helps prevent the policy from lapsing due to non-payment, ensuring continuous coverage. It also provides convenience as it eliminates the need for manual premium payments. However, the disadvantage is that the loan incurs interest, which can accumulate over time and reduce the policy’s cash value and death benefit if not repaid.