Seattle, Washington (NAPSI) - Many are surprised to learn that permanent life insurance can provide more than standard financial protection for their family. That may explain why, despite being one of the most flexible financial solutions available, it tends to be underused. In fact, according to Northwestern Mutual’s 2014 Planning & Progress Study, just slightly less than a quarter of Americans currently hold a permanent life insurance policy.

As both life spans and cost of living expenses continue to climb, it’s a good idea to explore the role permanent life insurance can play in building a secure financial foundation. In addition to its death benefit, permanent life insurance has a cash value that can be accessed at any age for most any reason. A knowledgeable financial professional can be your go-to person for how to best leverage this versatile asset to meet your individual needs.

Here are just a few examples of how you could use the value of permanent life insurance during your lifetime:

• Dealing With Emergencies

Whether it’s an unexpected home repair, job loss or health crisis, the cash value in a permanent life insurance policy can be used to cover expenses, supplement disability income or meet ongoing obligations, reducing the risk of depleting retirement accounts and other savings.

• Funding Education

College tuition and living expenses may be funded with permanent life insurance cash value and, currently, most applications for student financial aid don’t consider this asset when determining eligibility for scholarships, grants or loans. Parents can also purchase life insurance as part of their plan to protect their ability to pay for college.

• Managing A Business

If you need funds to expand your business or meet payroll during a slow period, you can tap into life insurance cash value quickly without credit applications or lengthy approval processes.

• Supplementing Retirement Income

The cash value of permanent life insurance can be a stable asset as part of a comprehensive retirement plan that provides multiple options to suit a variety of needs at retirement and beyond.

• Leaving A Legacy

The gift of life insurance can be a practical and easy way to honor children and grandchildren or make a meaningful charitable contribution.

To learn more about how permanent life insurance could help you meet your financial goals, talk to an experienced adviser or visit the Northwestern Mutual Online Learning Center at for a wide range of information and resources.