An insurer is positioning whole life policies as a way for retirees to supplement their retirement income during economic downturns.

In advance of Life Insurance Awareness Month in September, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co., Springfield, Mass., is telling consumers whole life policies are a “secret weapon” they can tap for cash values to keep their financial plans on track.

Drawing on the cash values of their whole life insurance policies can help policy owners avoid the sale of equities from their retirement accounts in a depressed market, leaving them with more cash in retirement and able to leave a larger net legacy to their families, while still meeting their retirement income needs, according to MassMutual’s analysis.