Joint life insurance

Cover two lives on a single policy

  • Cover two people at once

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What is joint life insurance?

Joint life insurance covers two lives on a single policy. If either, or both, of you die during the policy, your loved ones receive a cash lump sum. You both need to be living at the same address to take a policy out.

You can cover: 

  • You and your spouse
  • You and a partner
  • You and a business partner

You’ll usually save money with a joint policy, as it’s often cheaper than taking out two separate life policies. This makes them popular with couples who want to leave something behind for their family if either of them passes away.

How does joint life insurance work

Joint life cover works much like standard life insurance. You choose how much you want to be covered for, and for how long. If you or your policy partner pass away during this time, your loved ones receive your cover amount as a cash pay-out.

There are two types of joint life cover to choose from:

First death policies pay out on the first policyholder death. The second policyholder will receive the pay-out to use however they want. But after that, the policy ends, and the survivor will no longer be covered. This means if they still want life insurance, they’ll have to take out a new policy.

These are a good choice for couples who share responsibility for the bills. The pay-out ensures that the survivor isn’t left struggling to make ends meet if their partner passes away.

Second death policies pay out when both of you die. This could be years apart or at the same time but has to be within the cover term of your policy to get a pay-out. If one of you dies, but the other survives after the end of the policy, then they or their beneficiaries won’t receive a pay-out.

These are ideal for couples who each earn enough to support themselves and their loved ones should their partner pass away. Here the pay-out is usually used to support their children if, tragically, both their parents were to pass away.

Single vs joint life insurance

Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of joint life insurance:

Pros of joint life insurance:

  • They’re usually cheaper than two separate life insurance policies
  • No matter who dies, your loved ones will get a pay-out. As you’re both insured, you’ll know that whoever is left behind will be provided for. With single life cover, you’d each need a separate policy to make sure your loved ones get a pay-out no matter who dies.
  • Having a single policy means one lot of admin, making it easier to keep track of what you’re covered for, when you need to pay, and how much your pay-out is.

 

Cons of joint life insurance:

  • You only get one pay-out as joint policies only pay out once. If you take out two separate life insurance policies for you and your partner, your loved ones would get two pay-outs if you both died. You’d have to pay twice and it’s often more expensive.
  • Separating could end your policy because to be covered, both policy holders have to share a single address. If you separated, you’d have to end your policy. Even if you were several years into the policy, you’d lose everything you’d paid in so far.

Joint policies are ideal if you’re in a stable relationship and want to make sure your partner, or children, are cared for if either of you pass away.

Single policies are good for ensuring your loved ones are financially secure whatever happens. If you and your partner both died, two pay-outs could pay off your mortgage and support your children. If you and your partner separated, you’d also be able to keep your policy going.

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How much joint life cover do we need?

Figuring out how much cover you need is essential. Too much and you could be paying more than you need to. Too little, and your pay-out may not cover what you want it to, factoring it into your cover amount can give you peace of mind.

To settle on the perfect figure, think about:

  • Your family’s outgoings, how much would they need to keep on living comfortably if one of you were to pass away?
  • Your mortgage, how much do you have left to pay? Even though the amount decreases over time, it’s best to ensure you take out enough to pay it off no matter when you die.
  • Your debts. If you have any outstanding credit card or loans, factor this into your cover amount.
  • Funeral costs are on average about £4,000. If you think your loved ones may struggle to afford this, factoring it into your cover amount can give you peace of mind.

Need more help?

Our life insurance calculator can help you work out how much cover you need.

How long should we get joint life insurance for?

Joint life insurance comes in two policy lengths - term and mortgage.

Term life insurance covers you for a set period. You decide this period, and if you die during it, your loved ones get a pay-out. If you reach the end of the cover term, your policy ends.

Mortgage life insurance runs for as long as your mortgage. The pay-out decreases over time as the amount you owe on your mortgage drops. If you die during the cover term, your pay-out will always be enough to cover your remaining balance.

How do I work out a term policy length?

If you choose a term policy, you’ll need to decide how long you want to be covered for. Think about:

  • How long your family will be dependent on your income. If you have young children, you’ll want your pay-out to run for as long as they’ll need your financial support.
  • Your mortgage. Tying your policy length to your mortgage ensures it can always be paid off if you pass away
  • How long you want to pay as the longer your cover term, the longer you’ll have to keep paying.

Most people take out around 25 to 30 years of cover. This is usually long enough to cover their mortgage and the time in which their kids will depend on them financially.

Which is the best policy for me?

Before you choose a life insurance policy, there’s some key things to consider to help you select the best policy for you:

  • Your budget
  • Your cover level
  • Your future

Your budget, how much do you want to spend in payments? Joint life insurance should work out cheaper than two individual life policies. But you still need to balance this with your budget – for instance, whole life policies are more expensive than term policies.

Your cover level, how much life insurance cover do you need? You should take time to calculate your joint monthly expenditure, including your mortgage payments and all your outgoings. Look at each of your earnings and think about whether you both need the same level of cover.

Your future is also important. Review your policy/policies from time to time, especially if your circumstances have changed. Relationship breakdown can bring joint life insurance policies to an end, in which case you might decide to take out a single life policy.

What do I need to get a quote?

We’ll need a few details to find you our best joint life insurance deals. Have all this to hand before you begin to speed up the process:

  • Yours and your partner's age
  • Your medical history
  • Whether you have any pre-existing conditions
  • How much cover you want
  • How long you want to be covered for

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Does joint life insurance cover critical illness?

Critical illness cover is not offered as standard with a joint life insurance policy, but you can get it as an optional extra for an added cost.

If you become seriously ill or suffer a severe injury. You’ll get the pay-out while you’re still alive and are free to spend it as you wish.

Many people use it to cover their outgoings if they’re too ill to work, or to make changes to their home if they’re left with a disability after a life-changing accident.

What happens to our joint life policy if we separate?

You’ll normally have to end your policy if you and your partner separate. This is because joint life policies only cover policyholders living at the same address.

Some insurers will allow you to split your policies and keep your cover, but this isn’t included as standard. Contact your insurer if this is something you’re interested in.

If you do have to cancel your joint policy but still want cover, standard life insurance may be the best option. Read our guide for the pros and cons of life insurance for a single person.

We compare trusted life insurance companies to find you our best deals

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Need more help?

I'm a new parent, should I think about joint life insurance cover?

It’s common for new parents to take out joint life insurance cover. Your little one is going to be financially dependent on you and your partner for a long time to come, and bringing up a child is costly.

If one of you were to die, losing part of the family income could have a big impact, even if it’s not the main breadwinner who passes away. Whoever is left behind might also have to spend more on childcare costs as a single parent.

Can a joint life insurance policy be put in a trust?

Yes, a joint life insurance policy can be placed in a trust. When you die during the term of your life insurance, the pay-out forms part of your estate. This is the sum total of everything you leave behind. Writing your life insurance policy in trust means your beneficiaries can get the full life insurance pay-out tax-free, even if the estate is over the £325,000 inheritance tax threshold.

Putting your joint life insurance in trust should also allow your loved ones to receive the pay-out more quickly if you die. This is because funds from the policy can be paid directly to trustees rather than going into the estate.

What could joint life insurance cover?

Joint life insurance pay-outs can be used to cover a mortgage and/or general living costs for the remaining partner and any dependents.

Joint life insurance pays out only once, after one partner dies or is diagnosed with a terminal illness, where they have a life expectancy of less than 12 months.

What our life insurance expert says

Joint policies can be a smart way to save on your life insurance. But some only pay out once, so think about whether they're right for you before signing up. It’ll cost you a little more, but the added peace of mind of two pay outs can often justify the cost.

expert comment signature Louise Thomas personal finance

Louise Thomas

Life insurance expert

Confused Life is provided by Direct Life & Pension Services Ltd, who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered office; 2nd Floor Gateway 2, Holgate Park Drive, York, United Kingdom, YO26 4GB. Registered in England and Wales No 2467691. Our service is free and compares a wide range of trusted household names. Confused.com is an intermediary and receives commission from Direct Life & Pension Services Ltd which is based on a percentage of the total annual premium if you decide to buy through our website. We pride ourselves on impartiality and independence – therefore we don’t promote any one insurance provider over another.