The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia. Income from life insurance products


This topic provides information on the following matters:

  • types of life insurance products
  • common features of life insurance products
  • income from life insurance products, and
  • conventional life insurance policies - bonuses.

Types of life insurance products

Life insurance products can be categorised into 3 groups:

  • conventional life insurance policies
  • unbundled life insurance policies, and
  • insurance bonds.

Common features of life insurance products

All life insurance products have features in common:

  • benefits are purchased with 'premiums'
  • investment returns, which are added to the policy under some contracts, are called 'bonuses' or 'reversionary bonuses'
  • a life is insured
    • usually the policy owner's, but
    • may also be the policy owner's partner (1.1.P.85), or
    • another person
  • a policy matures
    • at the end of the specified term, or
    • on the death of the life insured.

Explanation: If there is more than one life insured, the policy matures on death of all of the lives insured. If the life insured is also the policy owner, the death benefit is usually paid to the policy owner's estate.

Income from life insurance products

If income is assessed for an insurance policy, it is usually assessed in relation to the policy owner.

Explanation: The policy owner, or policyholder, who usually pays the premiums:

  • receives the benefits when the policy matures, or
  • may surrender the policy in exchange for a cash value if this is allowed for in the terms of the policy.

Unbundled life insurance policies and insurance bonds are financial investments. The assessment of these products is covered in Chapter 4.4.

Policy reference: SS Guide 4.4 Deeming Provisions, 4.4.2 Deeming of Financial Investments, Assessing insurance bonds & policies

Conventional life insurance policies - bonuses

Bonuses on conventional life insurance policies are NOT assessed as ongoing income during the term of the policy. On maturity/surrender/cashing in of bonuses, the difference between the maturity/surrender payment and the sum of the purchase price (if any) and premiums paid by the investor over the life of the product IS assessed as income for 12 months. This applies for both pension and benefit purposes.

Act reference: SSAct section 1073 Certain amounts taken to be received over 12 months

Policy reference: SS Guide 4.4.2 Deeming of Financial Investments

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