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What is joint life insurance?

Joint life insurance is a life insurance policy that covers two people, but it only pays out once. Typically, this payment will be a lump sum, which goes to the survivor after the first person dies within the term of a policy. When the policy ends, there’s no further life cover for the survivor.

Frequently asked questions

How does joint life insurance work?

That depends on how your policy is set up. For ‘first death’ policies (as above), a pay-out happens after the first death in a couple. For ‘second death’ policies, a pay-out is made only after both people in a couple pass away (as long as premiums have been paid).

If the worst happened and you both died at the same time – for example in a car accident – any dependants would receive one lump sum payment from a joint policy.

How is joint life insurance different to single life insurance cover?

A single life insurance policy covers one person while a joint policy typically covers two people. If you’re in a couple then you might choose to have two separate (single) life policies. This could offer you greater peace of mind because if one of you were to pass away, then the surviving person would still have their own cover.

What are the benefits of getting a joint life insurance policy?

One benefit could be the cost. A joint life policy might be cheaper than two single life cover policies, but again that will depend on your circumstances. You should think about whether both of you have the same need for life insurance. If only one of you works, ask yourself if you both need to be insured for the same amount.  

Another benefit of joint life insurance is that because you’ve already arranged who will receive the pay-out if the worst were to happen, this could speed up the payment of a tax free pay-out. That’s because it will go straight to the surviving partner. On the other hand, any pre-existing medical conditions or illness which affects one of you could drive up premiums for you both.

Ben’s case study

Ben and his wife are from Cambridgeshire and have two children under 7 and a new repayment mortgage of £260,000 over 33 years. The couple are in their late 30s, work full-time and have no existing cover but wanted the mortgage cleared if either of them were to pass away. They also wanted some additional support towards the cost of raising the children or a short-term cash injection if they were to be seriously ill.

Ben has 12 months’ sick pay via his employer, but wasn’t clear on his wife’s employee work benefits. They needed their solution to be affordable as well as providing support at the worst possible time.

After discussing various options with their advisor, Ben and his wife agreed on joint decreasing life cover to clear their current mortgage if either of them died. Plus, a smaller, additional, combined life and critical illness policy to contribute towards household bills, funeral or medical expenses (dependent on their circumstances) if either of them passed away or suffered an insured critical illness.

What are the drawbacks of joint life cover?

When it comes to a joint policy, if you were to split up with your partner then unfortunately your joint life insurance policy can’t be divided. In that situation, you would probably need to cancel the existing policy and set up two new ones; as you will be applying for a new policy when you’re older, this could result in a higher premium.

For any life insurance policy, the type of policy that works best for you will depend on your individual circumstances, such as the level of your mortgage or whether you have more than one child.

Should I buy joint or single life insurance?

It depends on your situation. Joint life insurance can be cheaper than taking out two separate single policies but, should you break up as a couple, the policy cannot be divided or replaced. Therefore, any premiums you’ve been paying are effectively lost. Joint life insurance is likely more suitable for couples who have made a financial commitment already. If you own a home together, a joint life insurance policy can pay off the mortgage for the survivor, no matter which of you dies first. 
Single life insurance policies offer you greater flexibility, with the ability to choose, change and add beneficiaries, but typically come at a greater cost. How highly you value that flexibility will likely be a key factor in choosing a joint or single life insurance policy. 

How much cover do we need?

That’s a personal choice and will depend on a number of factors including: what you can afford to pay, your marital status as a couple and what your family would need if the worst were to happen to one of you. It could take just a minute to complete our easy-to-use life insurance calculator, which is a great starting point for working out what’s best for you.

Why should new parents think about joint life cover?

With all the joy that comes with a new arrival is an understanding that you have the responsibility of a dependant whose long-term future you’ll need to secure. You could try to begin with considering what costs will be left for your family to cover in your absence – taking into account the outstanding balance on your mortgage, credit card debts or other bills, like childcare – and what financial sum would be needed to relieve these costs.

How long does a joint policy last for?

Often, an insurance policy is set for a fixed amount of time, say 10 or 25 years. This amount of time is known as the ‘term’, which simply means how long the policy lasts for. There are two main kinds of term insurance to choose from: level-term life insurance or decreasing term. How much you’ll pay will depend on many factors, including whether you’d like the cover amount to stay the same throughout the life of the policy, or to decrease over time. Learn more about how to decide on the term of a life insurance policy.

Where can I get a quote for life insurance?

If you pass away with the right joint life insurance policy in place, it could mean your partner will get a sum of money to take care of the bills or continue to make mortgage payments.

Let us help you find the right cover to give you that peace of mind. It could take just a few minutes to get a list of quotes from our panel of providers. So why not get a quote for life insurance to see if you can save?