If you try to shop for life insurance for your spouse, you may realize that you know less about them than you think. Have you memorized their government identification numbers? Do you know every detail about their family health history? Do you know if they have life insurance coverage from work?
We see a lot of spouses shopping for life insurance for their significant others, so we know a thing or two about the information you need to have before you get started. In this article, we put together a quick list of what you need to know before you start the application process.
Helping your spouse buy life insurance can be an efficient way to get things done, but make sure they know what you’re doing. They will need to get involved in the process eventually, to sign their application and take the medical exam.
→ Stay-at-home parent? You need life insurance, too
Before anything, calculate your life insurance need
There’s a good chance that you’re not just buying life insurance out of nowhere; this is likely the result of at least one conversation about the need to purchase more life insurance on one or both of you.
But have you talked about how much life insurance coverage you actually need?
Life insurance is intended to complete your financial plan. A lot of stuff goes into your financial plan – day-to-day expenses, like child care, and long-term plans like paying off your mortgage or saving for college. You need to decide what you want your life insurance to cover and how much is required in order to cover it.
Whether you’re performing these calculations on your own or in a conversation with your spouse, here are the five main financial obligations you need to consider:
Childcare and care for other dependents (like aging parents)
Debt (unfortunately, co-signed debt survives even death)
End of life expenses (e.g., funeral expenses)
Financial cushion for the family (e.g., replacement income)
The final number that you come up is going to be personal to you and your spouse; no two families have the same life insurance need for the same reasons.
You can use PolicyGenius’ life insurance calculator to get help you decide how much coverage you need and how long your term should be.
First thing you need: (family) health history
You won’t get very far in the life insurance shopping experience without knowing about your spouse’s health and their family health history.
Most of the spouses who call us know about their partner’s health history. However, what really trips them up is their partner’s family health history. Not only do you have to know about your mother and father-in-law’s health, but your brother and sister-in-law’s, too. A family history of cardiovascular disease or cancer, for example, may affect your partner’s life insurance rates.
In order to get an accurate quote of how much life insurance will cost you or your spouse, it’s best to find an online quote engine that asks a lot of health questions upfront. PolicyGenius asks more health questions and family history questions upfront in order to give you the most accurate quote possible. The more of this information you have before you start the process, the fewer surprises there will be down the line.
Second thing you'll need: government ID
You don’t need to steal your partner’s driver’s license for the day, but you should copy all of the important government identification numbers down. This includes their driver’s license number, their Social Security Number, and their USCIS#, a.k.a. green card A-number, if applicable.
You’ll definitely need this information if you decide to go past the quoting stage and you want to start filling out the application and moving along with the purchasing process.
Third thing you'll need: information about other coverage
Life insurance companies try to prevent over-insurance. They do this for two reasons: 1) they don’t want you to pay more than you can afford for coverage you don’t need and 2) they want to make sure that you don’t cancel your life insurance down the line because you bought too much and can’t afford it.
They’re also looking for potential fraud: For example, a family making $50,000 per year doesn’t a $20 million life insurance policy, so that’s going to ring some alarm bells. Most life insurance companies have a set financial guideline as to how much coverage you can purchase. Generally, these limits are between 10 and 30 times your income, depending on your age.
That’s why, on the life insurance application, they’ll ask if you have other coverage. There’s a good chance that your spouse has at least one other policy – many people have a small life insurance policy from their employer. If you’re buying additional life insurance because your coverage needs have changed, make sure you know the details of your partner’s other coverage before diving into an application.
Last but not least, make sure you let them know what's happening
If you’re putting your spouse’s contact information on the application, make sure they know to expect an agent emailing them or calling them in the near future. It helps avoid a lot of awkward phone calls.
Need more guidance before you apply?
We have a ton of resources, including our life insurance guide, life insurance resources on our blog, and our YouTube channel, which has an entire motion picture’s worth of information on life insurance.