Laura Berry is a former State Farm insurance producer and insurance expert.

Full Bio →

Written by

Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

Full Bio →

Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Car Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Feb 20, 2017

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right life insurance coverage choices.

Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident life insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We are not affiliated with any one life insurance provider and cannot guarantee quotes from any single provider.

Our life insurance industry partnerships don’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own. To compare quotes from top life insurance companies please enter your ZIP code on this page to use the free quote tool. The more quotes you compare, the more chances to save.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about life insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything life insurance-related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by life insurance experts.

Don't miss these facts...

  • To be blunt, you cannot do a 1035 exchange of an annuity for a life insurance policy.
  • You can surrender your annuity and use the proceeds to purchase a life insurance policy, just not under the 1035 exchange rules.
  • There is a better way to exchange your annuity for a life insurance policy.


A 1035 exchange is an IRS regulation allowing a person to exchange an existing annuity for another annuity, a life insurance policy for another life insurance policy, a life insurance policies cash value for an annuity, an endowment contract for another endowment contract, without incurring taxable income on the gains in the initial contract.

In essence, the IRS allows individuals to exchange a contract for another contract, of like-kind, tax-free.

An annuity and a life insurance contract are not like kinds.

Learn more about 1035 Exchange below and make sure to use our free insurance quote tool above to start comparing rates today!

What are the differences in annuities and life insurance?

dollarphotoclub_54192154-1600x1600-1

A non-qualified deferred annuity is a contract where a person invests after tax dollars for retirement income, in the future. They may invest one lump sum or make monthly installments into the contract.

They allow the interest to grow or the gains from investing in the stock market grow tax deferred until they start taking withdrawals after they retire.

The purpose of the annuity is to provide a lifetime income that a person cannot outlive.

The advantage of an annuity is the tax deferral of gains, until you stop working, allowing for the faster accumulation of assets. When you retire, you may be in a lower tax bracket, giving you further benefits.

A life insurance policy is a contract that pays a death benefit if a person dies prematurely. It is designed to pay their surviving family the money they would have earned had they lived longer.

So, it is almost the reverse of an annuity. However, a whole life policy does accumulate a cash value, similar to an annuity.

That is why the IRS allows for the cash value of a life insurance policy to be transferred tax-free to an annuity contract.

So, a life insurance policy and an annuity have almost the opposite purpose of each other.

One protects you from outliving your stream of income, while the other protects your family from your premature death. They are not like-kind.

Enter your zip code below to view companies that have cheap life insurance rates.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Why does the IRS allow tax-free 1035 exchanges for some contracts?

adobestock_16579090-1600x1600-1

The IRS allows people to exchange one annuity for another tax-free because it gives them the ability to improve on the benefits of a newer version of annuity.

For example, in recent years, life insurance companies have added many new living benefits to annuity contracts.

You can get lifetime income guarantees and a number of other added guarantees that earlier versions of annuities did not offer.

The owner and annuitant of the 1035 exchange cannot be altered. Everything must remain the same, however, maybe the new annuity has lower fees and internal costs than the older contract.

There could be other investment options available also. 1035 exchanges of a life insurance contract for another is allowed for the same reasons.

The benefits of newer versions may be to the policyholder’s advantage. Maybe the newer versions of life insurance have lower costs associated with them, or new features that allow more flexibility.

The owner of the new policy and the insured would have to be the same as on the old contract.

Things to Remember When Doing a 1035 Exchange of Like Kind Contracts

  • Even though the IRS allows 1035 exchanges of like- kind contracts, that does not mean that you will not have new surrender fees and charges on the new contract. You are in effect cutting ties with the old insurance company and setting up with a new one. The new annuity contract will likely have a number of years of surrender fees and other internal fees attached to it.
  • You need to look at the company’s credit rating on Moody’s and other rating services, to make sure you are getting the same or better quality company.
  • If you are not out of the surrender period on your old annuity contract, you will have additional costs to doing a 1035 exchange. The process does not wipe out insurance company charges and fees.

Keeping the Same Basis

When you do a 1035 exchange correctly, the gain on your original policy stays with the policy and is transferred on, tax-free to the new contract.

This means that your cost basis will remain the same as it was on the old contract.

Enter your zip code below to view companies that have cheap life insurance rates.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

How can you exchange an annuity for a life insurance policy?

adobestock_107417448-1600x1600

If you have an annuity contract and you want to exchange it for a life insurance policy, there are several things you need to be aware of.

  • You will need to surrender your annuity contract or a portion of it, and then apply for the life insurance policy. Remember to check the death benefit on your annuity contract. Many of them have stepped up death benefits, so you may be doing yourself a disservice if you ignore this aspect of the contract.
  • Taking a withdrawal from the annuity is a taxable event. You will have to pay income taxes on all gains that are withdrawn from the annuity contract.
  • You may have to pay surrender fees on the annuity if the contract still has them.
  • If you have not yet reached the age of 59 ½, you will pay an additional 10 percent penalty for early withdrawal from the annuity.
  • You will have to meet the requirements of insurability for the life insurance policy. This may mean taking physical exams, having medical records examined, etc.
  • If you get the life insurance policy, you should make regular payments for more than seven years, or the IRS will consider your life insurance policy to be a Modified Endowment Contract (MEC), which does not have the tax benefits of a regular life insurance policy.

For instances, if you take a lump sum from your annuity and pay up a life insurance policy (MEC), the IRS treats the policy like an annuity.

If you withdraw money from this type policy before you are 59 ½ you will pay a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty. This defeats one of the benefits of doing an exchange.

MEC’s are also taxed by the IRS using the LIFO method, meaning that gains are taxed first on any withdrawals, rather than as a percentage of each withdrawal like you do with an annuity at retirement.

Recommendations for Changing an Annuity into a Life Insurance Policy

adobestock_72047239-1600x1600

If you truly feel that the best financial strategy for you and your family is to use your annuity contract to fund a life insurance policy, take a withdrawal of the first year’s premium on your life insurance policy from the annuity.

Apply for the life insurance, and pay the first year’s premium.Withdraw enough from the annuity each year to pay one year’s premium for the life insurance policy.

This way you can still benefit from the growth the annuity gives you each year.

You will pay a smaller amount of taxes and fees for the withdrawal each year, and you will still have the benefits of the annuity in addition to the benefits of the life insurance policy.

In conclusion, you now know that you cannot do a 1035 exchange of an annuity for a life insurance policy, because they are completely different types of contracts.

The two types of contracts provide completely different benefits to the contract owner, annuitant and insured.

Remember, the reason the IRS allows a 1035 exchange in the beginning is to help people benefit from the improvements in the contracts over the years.

You can see that exchanging an annuity for a life insurance contract outright, does not even appear to be an advantage.

So, follow the recommendations in this article if you plan to exchange an annuity for a life insurance plan. You can have the benefits of both contracts if you do it the right way.

You can have the benefits of both the annuity and the life insurance by simply using withdrawals from the annuity to fund the payments for the life insurance each year, maintaining the benefits of the life insurance and the annuity together.

Pay the taxes on the withdrawals from the annuity each year, and maintain the tax advantage on the remaining funds inside the annuity. You will be spreading out the tax burden over a period of years.

Don’t miss out on our free insurance comparison tool below! Just enter your zip code and start comparing rates now!