An annual fee an insurance company pays to whole life policyholders. The amount of the dividend is determined by the company's board of directors and is not guaranteed. This allows whole life policyholders access to at least part of their benefit before death. The insurance dividend can be taken in cash, but is almost always applied as a discount against future premium payments. This is a distinct advantage of whole life policies, though some analysts believe that insurance dividends do not make up for the expense of whole life insurance compared to term insurance.
Amounts paid to policy holders are not dividends on capital stock, but are a rebate of a portion of the premiums paid for the insurance. Such dividends reduce the cost of the insurance and are not taxable unless in excess of the total premiums paid. Interest paid when the dividends are left with the insurance company is reported to the taxpayer as interest and is taxable.