Section 140. Except as provided in this section, every domestic life company heretofore or hereafter organized, anything in its charter or its certificate of incorporation or special act to the contrary notwithstanding, shall provide in every participating policy of life or endowment insurance hereafter issued that the proportion of the divisible surplus of the company contributed by said policy shall be ascertained and distributed annually, and not otherwise, except as hereinafter provided, beginning not later than the end of the third policy year; but such distribution shall not be made contingent upon the payment of any further premium except that if dividends are allowed on an anniversary of the policy preceding the third, such dividends may be made subject to the payment of the succeeding year’s premium. Every such company shall on December thirty-first of each year or as soon thereafter as practicable, after providing from the funds attributable to its participating business for the reserve required by sections nine and eleven and all other liabilities attributable to such business, including dividends declared upon the capital stock, if any, and such sum as may be held on account of existing deferred dividend policies, and providing also for a contingency reserve not in excess of the limit prescribed in the following section, apportion its remaining funds attributable to such business upon the contribution to surplus plan, as dividends, to all other policies entitled to share therein. Each such dividend shall annually, at the option of the holder of the policy, (a) be payable in cash, or (b) applied in reduction of premiums, or (c) to the purchase of a paid-up addition, or (d) be left with the company to accumulate to the credit of the policy and be payable at the maturity thereof, or be withdrawable in cash on demand by the holder of the policy, or applied as hereinafter set forth; but if no election is made by the holder of the policy prior to any anniversary thereof, the dividend for that anniversary shall be applied under option (c) or held under option (d), whichever option is designated by the terms of the policy; and if any premium on the policy is not paid at the expiration of the days of grace and dividends have been applied under option (c) or held under option (d), the company may keep the policy in force by applying the cash value of any paid-up additions or any dividend accumulations to the payment due on the policy if the cash value of such additions or the amount of such accumulations is sufficient to make said payment in full, and shall forthwith mail a notice to the holder thereof at his last known address, stating the amount of such cash values or of such accumulations which have been so applied, and the amount, if any, of paid-up additions and the cash value thereof remaining or, in the case of dividend accumulations the balance, if any, remaining to the credit of the policy; notwithstanding anything herein provided, the share of the surplus so apportioned to a term policy shall not be available for the purchase of a paid-up addition, and nothing herein contained shall operate to continue a policy in force beyond the period which the cash value of any paid-up addition or any dividend accumulation so applied would carry the policy under its full premium rate, nor beyond the term for which the policy was originally issued, and that the affidavit of any officer, clerk or agent of the company, or of any one authorized to mail such notice, that the notice required by this section has been duly mailed by the company, shall be prima facie evidence that such notice was duly given.
On industrial and debit life insurance policies the annual surplus distribution shall begin not later than the end of the fifth policy year, and shall annually, at the option of the owner, be (a) payable in cash, or (b) applied in reduction of premiums, or (c) left on deposit with the company to accumulate at interest, or (d) used to purchase paid up additions to the policy.
This section shall not apply to contracts on a variable basis, annuity, survivorship annuity or pure endowment contracts nor to any domestic stock life company issuing only nonparticipating policies. A foreign life company which does not provide in every participating policy hereafter issued or delivered in the commonwealth that the proportion of the surplus accruing upon said policy shall be ascertained and distributed annually and not otherwise, except as hereinafter provided, either by payment in cash of the amount apportioned to a policy, or by its application to the payment of premiums or to the purchase of paid-up additions, or for the accumulation of the amounts from time to time apportioned, said accumulations to be subject to withdrawal by the policyholder, shall not be permitted to do new business within the commonwealth.
Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the payment upon or after the death of the insured of a dividend for the current policy year.