NU Online News Service, Aug. 29, 6:15 p.m. – The Phoenix Companies Inc., Hartford, says it is making its large universal life and variable-universal life policies more flexible.

The company is about to introduce the Phoenix LifePlan Options, a set of options that will give purchasers of large UL and VUL policies the ability to buy more coverage, give up coverage, or exchange life policies for annuities after five years, 10 years or 15 years.

The extra flexibility could help customers who are worried about the recent changes in the federal estate tax laws, Phoenix says.

The Economic Growth Tax Relief and Reconciliation Act of 2001 is supposed to phase out federal estate taxes over the next few years. But EGTRRA will expire in 2010, meaning that estate taxes could return to current levels.

Phoenix says it will add the LifePlan options automatically, in states that approve the options, to all individual UL and VUL policies that meet minimum size requirements.

Phoenix will also add the options to survivorship UL and VUL policies that meet the size requirements.

A survivorship policy is a policy that covers two or more people and pays off after the death of one or more of the insureds. Wealthy families often use the policies in estate planning.

Phoenix will add an extra LifePlan option for purchasers of the survivorship policies: a feature permitting holders to convert some of the death benefits into single-life coverage without medical exams or surrender charges.

The Phoenix Life Insurance Company, East Greenbush, N.Y., a Phoenix subsidiary, will issue the policies, Phoenix says.