What is variable universal life insurance?

Variable Life Insurance is a permanent life insurance policy that allows the ability to accumulate cash value while providing variety and control over professionally managed investment options. You have the freedom to monitor and make decisions on where to allocate your funds over time. This product also provides flexible premiums and a flexible death benefit.

Who can benefit from variable universal life insurance?

Variable universal life insurance is good for someone who:

  • Is looking for a permanent life insurance policy that has the ability to accumulate cash value
  • Wants variety and control over their investment options
  • Wants the freedom to monitor and make decisions on where to allocate their funds over time
  • Understands that investing involves rewards, but also risks that may have the potential to reduce the policy's cash value

How does variable universal life insurance work?


Determine how much you need

Calculate how much your beneficiary may need to cover expenses. Use our life insurance tool.


Decide how your money should be invested

Work with your financial professional to determine the best investing strategy for your cash value.


Death benefit allocation

The policy pays a death benefit to your beneficiary — typically a family member — if your death benefit is still intact.

Benefits of a variable universal life policy

Permanent life protection1

Variable life insurance coverage continues for your entire life. No need to renew the policy with higher premiums.

Potential to earn higher than average returns on cash value accumulation

Your variable life policy builds additional cash value that you can access while you're alive.

High-quality investment options for more growth potential

You have more control over how your premiums are invested.

Tax-deferred earnings that you can withdraw or borrow from

Earnings can grow income tax free, which allows them to accumulate faster.

Flexible death benefit

If properly structured, your beneficiaries may not have to pay taxes on your VUL death benefit.

Nationwide VUL Rewards Program®

This program lowers the monthly cost of insurance rates by 25% beginning in year 21 for clients who meet the minimum premium requirements.

Tools & resources

Make the most out of your variable universal life insurance policy.
Topics to discuss with your advisor

Topics to discuss with your advisor

  • What is guaranteed with this type of policy?
  • What are my investment options?
  • How much does my beneficiary get?

Advantages and disadvantages of variable life insurance

With a variable universal life policy, you can take advantage of potential market growth because your policy value is invested in underlying sub-accounts which are subject to market fluctuations. Your policy also has the flexibility to adjust to your changing needs.

However, a variable universal life policy puts greater responsibility on you. You assume the investment risk, and you select and monitor your own underlying investment options, instead of the insurance company doing it for you.

Keep in mind that as your life changes (for example, marriage, birth of a child or a job promotion), so will your life insurance needs. Make sure that these strategies and products are suitable for your long-term life insurance needs. Also, make sure you’re able to continue premium payments so your policy doesn’t lapse if the market goes down. If you take a loan, withdrawal or partial or whole surrender, your death benefit may be reduced, your policy may lapse or you may face tax consequences.

There are fees and charges for variable life insurance, including a cost of insurance based on characteristics of the insured person such as gender, health and age. There may also be underlying fund charges and expenses, and additional charges for riders that customize a policy to fit your individual needs.

[1] As long as premiums are paid.

Please read this important information

Keep in mind that investing involves market risk, including the possible loss of principal. Also, know that underlying investment options are only available in variable annuity and variable life insurance contracts. They are not offered directly to the public.

Protections and guarantees are subject to the claims-paying ability of the issuing life insurance company.

Keep in mind that taking money from your policy immediately reduces both the cash value and the death benefit payable, and can cause the need for more premiums to be paid into the policy in the future. You should always take care to ensure that your life insurance needs continue to be met over time subsequent to taking cash from your policy.

Variable products are sold by prospectus. You can obtain the product prospectus and underlying fund prospectuses by writing to Nationwide Life Insurance Company, P.O. Box 182021, Columbus, OH 43218-2021. Before you invest, you should read the prospectus carefully and consider investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. The product prospectus and underlying fund prospectus contain this and other important information. Investing involves risk.

Guarantees and protections are subject to Nationwide's claims-paying ability. They do not apply to the investment performance or safety of the underlying investment options.

Investment products are not FDIC-insured, may lose value and have no bank guarantee.