Everything You Need to Know About Modified Endowment Contracts

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

A Modified Endowment Contract, or MEC, is a life insurance policy modified from the traditional whole life insurance policy. This guide will discuss a Modified Endowment Contract, how it works, and why you might want to consider one for your financial planning needs!

What Is A Modified Endowment Contract (MEC)?

For many people, cash value life insurance is an essential tool for financial planning. The policy’s cash value can be used to cover unexpected expenses, supplement retirement income, or even pay for a child’s education. However, cash-value life insurance policies come with several tax benefits, making them expensive for some people. A modified endowment contract (MEC) is a permanent life insurance policy stripped of many of these tax benefits.

Mec Insurance

How Does A Modified Endowment Contract Work

Life insurance is an essential tool for financial planning, but it can also be misused as an investment. To discourage this behavior, the government has passed a series of tests that life insurance policies must pass to avoid being taxed as a modified endowment contract (MEC). In addition, MECs are subject to less favorable tax treatment, meaning that policyholders would have to pay more taxes if their policy failed the test. As a result, people need to understand the implications of these tests before purchasing a life insurance policy.

When the IRS designates your life insurance policy as a MEC, you can no longer receive the tax benefits associated with withdrawals from the policy. This can be a significant setback if you rely on these benefits to help cover expenses. To avoid this situation, you must be mindful of the premium amount you pay into the policy. If you are paying too much in too short a period, the IRS may label the policy as a MEC, and you will lose the tax benefits. By being aware of this potential downside, you can help to ensure that you do not inadvertently put yourself at a disadvantage.

A life insurance policy becomes a MEC if it meets all three of the following criteria:

  • if it was purchased on or after June 20, 1988,
  • if it meets the definition of a life insurance policy, and
  • if it fails the “seven-pay” test.

A policy that fails the “seven-pay” test would not provide enough cash value to pay all seven years of premiums after the policyholder’s death. As a result, a policy that meets all three of these criteria is not a sound investment, and you should avoid purchasing such a policy.

A seven-pay test is an essential tool the IRS uses to determine whether your life insurance policy will be converted into a MEC. The test compares the total premiums you paid in the first seven years of the policy with what you’d need to pay in full. If your payments exceed what’s needed, your policy becomes recognized as a MEC.

Modified Endowment Contract

What Are The Benefits


The primary drawback of a MEC is the policy loses most of its tax benefits while alive. The other drawback is the death benefit is limited.

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Next Steps

That’s a brief overview of what you need to know about modified endowment contracts. If you have any questions or want more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to discuss your specific situation and help you determine if a MEC is right for you.

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Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

I’m a licensed financial professional focusing on annuities and insurance for more than a decade. My former role was training financial advisors, including for a Fortune Global 500 insurance company. I’ve been featured in Time Magazine, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, Entrepreneur, Bloomberg, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, and Women’s Health Magazine.

The Annuity Expert is an online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. My goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning or find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates for you. 

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