Answers to FAQs

Retirement Loan Protection

Looking for more information about retirement loan protection? We have answers to our most frequently asked questions below.

A loan default is a failure to repay a loan. When participants take out a loan, the money is withdrawn from their retirement savings. In the event of a default, the remaining unpaid amount is considered a distribution and therefore is subject to taxes and penalties for early withdrawal if the borrower is younger than age 59½.

Borrowers can be unable to make payments for any number of reasons, including job loss, disability, or other financial hardships.

A retirement plan loan may seem like an easy way to address a financial setback, but it can have negative ramifications if participants can’t pay it back. In fact, many participants who miss payments and end up defaulting on their loan are also forced to pay the remaining balance in full—derailing their retirement saving progress.

An automated, low-cost financial wellness program, Custodia’s retirement loan protection helps repay participants’ loans if they fall behind after separating from their employer. Here’s how it works:

  • Involuntary job loss: When participants are laid off or lose their jobs unexpectedly, Custodia takes over their loan payments while they search for a new job, preventing loan defaults.
  • Death and disability: If participants pass away or become disabled, Custodia will restore their retirement plan accounts in full.
  • Voluntary job change: Participants who choose to change jobs can continue to repay their loans through Custodia, allowing them to maintain their retirement savings without defaulting on their previous employer’s retirement plan loan.

Once plan sponsors have added retirement loan protection, employees are automatically enrolled in the program when they take out a retirement plan loan unless they choose to opt out.

Retirement loan protection is designed to be affordable, costing participants approximately $2 per month for every $1,000 borrowed. Depending on the program their employer selects, a $5,000 loan could cost a participant as little as $4 per biweekly pay period.

Participants can easily initiate a retirement loan protection claim online or over the phone.

  • Involuntary job loss: Once a claim is validated, Custodia will begin making loan repayments based on their employer’s coverage period as long as they remain out of work.
  • Death and disability: If a participant passes away or becomes disabled, Custodia will restore their retirement plan account in full. Custodia will work with the former employee and beneficiary to reinstate their retirement plan account.
  • Voluntary job change: While Custodia Financial does not pay benefits in the event of voluntary separation or termination for cause, retirement loan protection ensures participants can continue making payments on their loan to Custodia.

Billions of dollars in retirement security are lost every year when participants are forced to pay off their retirement plan loans because of loan defaults, which harms retirement readiness. Retirement loan protection ensures plan sponsors help their employees with financial wellness by preventing unnecessary loan defaults.

Plan sponsors can add retirement loan protection by working with Custodia to establish coverage for their plan and update their loan policy. If you are a plan sponsor interested in retirement plan protection, contact us today.

Retirement plan loans

Looking for more information about retirement plan loans? We have answers to our most frequently asked questions below.

Most 401(k) plans allow 401(k) loans, which permit plan participants to borrow money from their accounts. The money you borrow will be deducted from your account and will no longer be invested for retirement. As you pay back the loan through paycheck deductions, the principal and interest payments are added back to your account.

When you borrow from your 401(k) account, you sign a loan agreement which spells out the terms, including the length of the loan, interest rate, payments and any fees involved.

To see if your plan offers 401(k) loans, check with your employer or review your Summary Plan Description, a document that explains in detail how your plan works. Special rules apply, and each plan may have its own rules, so be sure to review them carefully before borrowing from your plan.

The funds come from your account, and after the loan you pay them back, with interest. The interest is directly credited to your 401(k) account.

You repay the loan in equal installments, with repayments automatically deducted from your paycheck. You are required to make payments at least once a quarter.

Most plans allow for “general purpose” loans, which are typically for any use (see more below), and primary residence home loans. General purpose loans have a maximum repayment term of five years, while home loans generally carry a longer term of 15 to 25 years.

Some plans don’t allow you to continue your 401(k) contributions while you are making loan payments. Be sure you understand your plan’s rules before you borrow.

If you lose your job while you have an outstanding loan, you may need to repay the balance quickly, usually within 60 to 90 days, or risk going into default.

Most plans have a minimum loan amount – typically $500 to $1,000. The maximum amount you can borrow is generally governed by federal law and is limited to (1) $10,000 or 50% of your vested account balance, whichever is greater or (2) $50,000, whichever is less.

Keep in mind that the amount you can borrow from your 401(k) plan is determined based on your vested balance. Your contributions into the plan are always fully vested, but employer contributions may be subject to a vesting schedule. Your employer may require you to work a certain amount of time before you keep any employer contributions.

Most plans let you borrow for any reason, but this can vary. Some employers restrict loans to:

  1. Paying for education expenses for yourself, spouse or a child
  2. Preventing eviction from your home
  3. Paying unreimbursed medical expenses, or
  4. Buying a first-time residence

Most 401(k) plans charge a one-time loan origination fee. You will also pay interest, along with your loan principal payments. The interest rate on your loan is determined by your 401(k) plan, but it is typically the prime rate + 1%. Check with your employer or review your plan’s loan policy to make sure you understand any associated fees.

Here are some things to think about when considering a 401(k) loan:


  • You have ready access to cash when you need it.
  • Typically, loan repayments are conveniently deducted from your paycheck.
  • No credit check or long application process is required.
  • Most 401(k) loans have lower interest rates than a credit card or a personal loan, and the interest you pay goes back into your account.


  • If you lose your job or leave the company, you will most likely have to pay back your loan in full, usually within 60 to 90 days.
  • If you are unable to pay back your loan in full within the specified timeframe, any unpaid portion will be treated as a taxable distribution. Depending on your age, most borrowers incur an additional 10% penalty. The defaulted loan, taxes and penalties can significantly diminish your account.

If you fail to make the required payments on your 401(k) loan, the loan will be in default and the remaining balance is considered a “distribution.” You will be taxed on the distribution and may also be subject to a 10% penalty, depending on your age.  401(k) plans often allow a “cure period” during which your loan payments can be made before the loan will become a taxable distribution. This period is often the end of the calendar quarter following the quarter of your first missed payment.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say you have a $7,500 loan and default on it. 40% or more of the money could go to the government, assuming 25% in federal taxes and 5% in state taxes, plus the 10% early-withdrawal penalty. So, you might net only $4,500 from that $7,500 loan.

The costs go beyond the immediate lost retirement savings, taxes, and penalties discussed above. You also miss out on the lost earnings that your money would have generated. Many defaulting borrowers cash out their entire remaining account balance to cover the taxes and penalties that are due. For the average borrower, with a loan of about $8,000 and over twenty years to go until retirement, this adds up to $300K in lost savings at retirement!

The average defaulting borrower loses out on $300k in retirement savings when taxes, penalties, and lost earnings are considered.

A real world story:

Marcus, 46 years old, became disabled and defaulted

“The reason we were in this spot to begin with [was] we had depleted most of our savings fairly close to this time. New vehicle and credit cards, there wasn’t enough balance available to handle it.”

Listen to more stories

The role of any type of insurance is to protect against the risk of loss. If you own a home or a car, typically, you insure it. In fact, for the average household, their 401(k) money is even more valuable than their home, as a percentage of household assets.

401(k) loan insurance protects your retirement plan account from loss, in this case, from the risk of defaulting on your plan loan. 401(k) loan insurance prevents the default by automatically protecting the loan, leaving your retirement savings intact. You get to keep your balance.

Your 401(k) may represent one of your largest financial assets. It makes sense to protect it from unforeseen circumstances, like losing your job or becoming disabled.

When you borrow through a 401(k) loan, you have an obligation to pay the loan back. But what if an unexpected life event such as a layoff or disability happens? Layoffs are routine these days.

If you lose your job or become disabled, you may not be able to make your loan payments. You could end up defaulting on your loan, and worse, cash out your account.

Either way, you could lose thousands of future retirement dollars to taxes and penalties.

The impact on your retirement savings can be devastating.

401(k) loan insurance prevents loan defaults by helping to repay your outstanding loan balance. You keep your balance, and your savings can continue to grow until you retire. That’s smart financial protection.

401(k) loan defaults affect millions of Americans and adversely affect retirement plan outcomes.

The statistics are staggering:

Nearly $6 billion in loans default annually. 86% of 401(k) loans default when people lose their jobs.

86% of loans default upon job loss.

Fortunately, Custodia Financial realized that this significant form of retirement plan leakage is entirely preventable.

By insuring a 401(k) loan through a simple loan insurance program such as offered by Custodia Financial, the loan is automatically repaid in the event of death or disability. In the event of involuntary job loss, Custodia Financial repays the loan while the participant looks for another job. Borrowers keep their balance and continue to enjoy decades of compounding in their accounts.

401(k) loan insurance is an important part of an individual’s overall financial wellness strategy.

Ask your employer or retirement plan provider about Custodia Financial or contact us.