Joint life insurance

See how joint life insurance works and how it could protect your loved ones after you're gone.


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What is joint life insurance?

Although joint life insurance is an insurance policy that covers two people, it will only ever pay out once. This payout is usually as a lump sum when the first of the two people insured dies. But there is no other payment to the surviving partner when the policy term comes to an end.

How does joint life insurance work?

How a joint life insurance policy works will very much depend on the policy taken out but it will cover two people under one policy. It isn’t limited to married couples but might also prove suitable for people in long-term personal or business relationships.

Generally, a joint life insurance policy will run for a length of time agreed between the policyholders and the insurer will only pay out on the death of one of the two policyholders. Once a payout is made, the policy usually ends.

There are two kinds of policies:

  • A “first death” policy. A lump sum is paid out when the first of the two people insured dies.
  • A “second death” policy. A lump sum is paid out after the subsequent death of the second policyholder.

What does joint life insurance cover?

What a joint life insurance policy covers can vary from policy to policy but a payout could help cover a range of financial commitments such as:

  • Mortgage repayments
  • Outstanding loans and repayments
  • Daily expenses and utility bills
  • Extra financial support for your family members

How much does joint life insurance cost?

The cost of a family health insurance policy will vary depending on a number of factors. These include:

  • The level of cover you choose. Choosing a more comprehensive policy over basic or mid-range cover will mean your premiums are likely to increase.
  • Where you and your family live. Unfortunately, health insurance policies typically cost more in certain areas of the UK. Some of the most priciest regions are London and the south-east while Scotland is one of the cheapest.
  • How old you and your spouse are. If you and your spouse are relatively young, with young children, you can expect to pay much less than a much older couple and their children. Age is often coupled with greater medical risk. And with greater medical risk comes increased premiums from the insurer.
  • You and your family’s medical history. If you have a pre-existing condition that runs in the family, your premiums are likely to be higher due to the increased risk.
  • You and your family’s lifestyle. If you and your family eat well, exercise regularly, avoid smoking and rarely drink alcohol, you can expect your premiums to be lower than a family that does smoke and regularly drinks alcohol.

What are the differences between single and joint life insurance policies?

Selecting a joint life insurance policy means that two people will be insured under one policy.
With a single life insurance policy, only one person is insured with a payout being made on the death of the policyholder. Even if you’re married or have a long-term business partner, you may choose to have two separate policies, which would each pay out on the death of each respective policyholder. Alternatively, you may choose to take out a joint life insurance policy, which is likely to be cheaper.

What are the benefits of joint life insurance?

Taking out a joint life insurance policy can offer you and your partner several benefits such as:

  • Cheaper premiums for one policy compared to two separate policies
  • A lump sum payout regardless of which person dies first
  • Available to married couples, or people in a long-term personal or business relationship
  • Peace of mind that your family will not be left out of pocket
  • The ability to take out a single life insurance policy after a partner dies

What are the disadvantages of joint life insurance?

Whilst we’ve highlighted the benefits, there may also be some disadvantages to taking out a joint life insurance policy. These might be:

  • Only one lump sum payout even if both policyholders die at the same time
  • If a marriage or a partnership comes to an end, the lump sum payout cannot be split
  • Taking out a single life insurance policy after a partner dies might prove financially difficult

How to find the best joint life insurance

Finding the best joint life insurance policy will very much depend on your own circumstances. Realistically, you’ll need to work out what you can afford to pay in premiums and what you think you and your family might need for future financial security.

You might want to consider whether it is better for you and your partner to take out a joint life policy instead of two single life insurance policies.

It’s worth remembering to do some research and compare policies to find one that matches your requirements. As well as looking at how low premiums are compared to the final lump sum payout, it’s worth looking into any restrictions and limits.

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