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In the context of nonqualified deferred compensation plans, COLI is a life-insurance policy on plan participants. Usually the company pays the premium, allowing it to own the cash value of the policy, and thus the company is the beneficiary (i.e. it receives the death benefit). This can also be called employer-owned life insurance. It is one of the ways your company can informally fund its obligation to pay NQDC benefits. For details, see a related FAQ.