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.
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.
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.
Need more help?
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.
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.
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.
Life insurance expert