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Absolute Assignment Life Insurance Definition

Insurance is a contract between the insurance company (insurer) and you (policyholder). It is a contract with full of jargon. As much as possible, we must try to understand all the insurance terms mentioned in the policy bond (certificate). One such insurance jargon which is mostly used is Assignment.

If you are planning to apply for a home loan, your home loan provider may surely use this term. So, what is Assignment? Why assignment of a life insurance policy is required? What are different types of assignment? What are the differences between Assignment & Nomination?

What is Assignment?

Assignment of a life insurance policy means transfer of rights from one person to another. You can transfer the rights on your insurance policy to another person / entity for various reasons. This process is referred to as ‘Assignment’.

The person who assigns the insurance policy is called the Assignor(policyholder) and the one to whom the policy has been assigned, i.e. the person to whom the policy rights have been transferred is called the Assignee.

Once the rights have been transferred from the Assignor to the Assignee, the rights of the policyholder stands cancelled and the assignee becomes the owner of the insurance policy.

Assigning one’s life insurance policy to a bank is fairly common. In this case, the bank becomes the policy owner whereas the original policyholder continues to be the life assured on whose death the bank or the policy owner is entitled to receive the insurance money.

Types of Assignment

The assignment of an insurance  policy can be made in two ways;

  • Absolute Assignment– Under this process, the complete transfer of rights from the Assignor to the Assignee will happen. There are no conditions applicable.
    • Example: Mr. PK Khan owns a life insurance policy of Rs 1 Crore. He would like to gift this policy to his wife. He wants to make ‘absolute assignment’ of this policy in his wife’s name, so that the death benefit (or) maturity proceeds can be directly paid to her. Once the absolute assignment is made, Mrs. Khan will be the owner of the policy and she may again transfer this policy to someone else.
  • Conditional Assignment – Under this type of assignment, the transfer of rights will happen from the Assignor to the Assignee subject to certain conditions. If the conditions are fulfilled then only the Policy will get transferred from the Assignor to the Assignee.
    • Example: Mr. Mallya owns a term insurance policyof Rs 50 Lakh. He wants to apply for a home loan of Rs 50 Lakh. His banker has asked him to assign the term policy in their name to get the loan. Mallya can conditionally assign the policy to the home loan provider to acquire a home loan. If Mallya meets an untimely death (during the loan tenure), the banker can receive the death benefit under this policy and get their money back from the insurance company.
    • If Mallya repays the entire home loan amount, he can get back his term insurance policy. The policy would be reassigned to Mallya on the repayment of the loan.
    • In case if the death benefit received by the banker is more than the outstanding loan amount, the insurer will pay the bank the outstanding dues and pay the balance to the nominee directly. The balance amount (if any) will be paid to Mallya’s beneficiaries (legal heirs / nominee).

How to assign a life insurance policy?

The Assignment must be in writing and a notice to that effect must be given to the insurer. Assignment of a life insurance policy may be made by making an endorsementto that effect in the policy document (or) by executing a separate ‘Assignment Deed’.  In case of assignment deed, stamp duty has to be paid. An Assignment should be signed by the assignor and attested by at least one witness.

Downloadabsolute assignment deed sample format / conditional assignment deed format.

Download‘application for assignment’ sample format.

Nomination Vs Assignment

Nomination is a right given to the policyholder to appoint a person(s) to receive the death benefit (death claim). The person in whose favor the nomination is effected is termed as ‘nominee’. The nominee comes into picture only after the death of the life assured (policy holder). The nominee will not have the absolute right over the money (claim proceeds). The other legal heirs of the policy holder can also recover money from the nominee.

(However, as per Insurance Laws (Amendment) Act, 2015 – If an immediate family member such as spouse / parent / child is made as the nominee, then the death benefit will be paid to that person and other legal heirs will not have a claim on the money)

Under nomination, the rights of the policyholder are not transferred. But, assignment is transfer of rights, interest and title of the policy to some other person (or) entity. To make assignment, consent of the insurer is also required.

Important Points

  • Assignment of policies can be done even when a loan is not required or for some special purposes.
  • If you assign the policy for other purpose other than taking a loan, the nomination stands cancelled.
  • If the policy is assigned, then the assignee will receive the policy benefit. Death benefit will be paid to the Nominee, in case the policy is not assigned.
  • The policy would be reassigned to you on the repayment of the loan (under conditional assignment).
  • Types of insurance policies used for assignment purpose to get business loans, generally include an endowment plan, money back policy or a ULIP. Home loan providers generally ask for the assignment of Term insurance plans on their names. (The term plan tenure should be more than the home loan tenure)
  • An assignment of a life insurance policy once validly executed, cannot be cancelled or rendered in effectual by the assignor. The only way to cancel such assignment would be to get it re-assigned by the assignee in favor of the assignor.
  • You can also raise a loan against your policy from your insurance company itself. In this case, your policy would have to be assigned to insurance company.
  • An insurer may accept the assignment or decline.(The insurer shall, before refusing to act upon the endorsement, record in writing the reasons for such refusal and communicate the same to the policy-holder not later than thirty days from the date of the policy-holder giving notice of such transfer or assignment)
  • In case of death of the absolute Assignee (to whom the policy rights have been transferred under absolute assignment), the rights under the policy will be transferred to the legal heirs of the assignee.
  • You can also assign a life insurance policy underMarried Women’s Property Act. (At the time of making the application (buying a policy), a separate MWPA form has to be filled by the proposer for it to be covered under MWP Act. Do note that the existing life insurance policies cannot be assigned under MWP Act)
  • Partial assignment or transfer of a policy can also be made. But banks will accept any of your life insurance policies as long as the sum assured is equal to or greater than the loan amount.

Hope you find this post informative and do share your comments.

(Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Absolute assignment is most often encountered in the insurance industry. It is the irrevocable transfer of all of your interests, rights and ownership regarding an insurance policy both in the present and in the future. One common use of an absolute assignment is during a life settlement on a life insurance policy where you sell your policy prior to your death.

Absolute assignment can be applied to a life insurance policy.

Parties to an Absolute Assignment

There are several parties (people) involved in an absolute assignment of an insurance policy. It is important to understand the function of each party. The first party is the insured, the person who is covered under the insurance policy. If it is a life insurance policy this would be the person whose life is insured. The assignor is the person who currently owns the rights the policy is providing. The assignee is the person who will be receiving the rights.

Other Parties Involved

In addition to the people directly involved in the absolute assignment transaction, there are people who are tangentially involved. The first is the primary beneficiary. The primary beneficiary is the person who benefits if the policy pays off. In addition to the primary beneficiary there is often a secondary beneficiary who will receive the insurance proceeds if for some reason the primary beneficiary becomes ineligible. One of the primary rights that the assignee is looking to acquire is the right to choose the beneficiaries.

Why Assign Your Rights?

There are a variety of reasons why a person might want to assign his rights of ownership to an insurance policy. Business policies might be assigned if the business is sold. Life insurance policies might be assigned if a person is near death but needs the money to pay medical costs. Accident insurance policies might be assigned to cover the costs associated with the accident.

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Why Absolute?

The term absolute means that once the rights are assigned you can't change your mind. Often when an life insurance policy is assigned the assignee might have to make several insurance payments before collecting on the policy. He certainly wouldn't agree to this if at some point in the future the original owner of the policy could change his mind and take the policy back. Therefore the policy transfer is absolute and can't be revoked.

Other Uses of Absolute Assignment

In addition to the insurance industry, absolute assignment is often used in the mortgage industry. Often in a commercial mortgage the lender will insist on an absolute assignment of rents clause in the mortgage contract. This means that if the lender has to foreclose on the property he not only gets the property but he also gets the rights to any rents the property is generating. This could be significant if the lender got the property but the former owner got to keep the rent.

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