Family life insurance

A family life insurance plan provides you and your loved ones with financial security. Here’s how to choose the right coverage for your whole family.

Katherine Murbach PolicygeniusAmanda Shih author photo

By

Katherine Murbach

Katherine Murbach

Associate Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Katherine Murbach is an associate editor and a licensed life insurance expert at Policygenius. Previously, she wrote about life and disability insurance for 1752 Financial, and advised over 1,500 clients on their life insurance policies as a sales associate.

&Amanda Shih

Amanda Shih

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Amanda Shih is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius, where she covered life insurance and disability insurance. Her expertise has appeared in Slate, Lifehacker, Little Spoon, and J.D. Power.

Updated|6 min read

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Purchasing a life insurance policy for yourself is always a good idea; it ensures that your family members won’t suffer financially in the event of your death. But to be fully prepared for a death in the family, insuring just yourself might not be enough. 

If you’re married, have children, or depend on your parents for money, you may need to consider their life insurance coverage as well. Here’s how to find the best life insurance for your whole family.

Key takeaways

  • Spouses can choose between purchasing two separate life insurance policies or one shared policy.

  • Most children don’t need life insurance coverage.

  • Family life insurance is sometimes advertised as one product, but coverage for your family usually requires multiple policies or add-ons, also called riders.

  • The most convenient and affordable coverage option for most families is an individual term life policy for each parent, in addition to a child rider for the children.

What is family life insurance?

Family life insurance refers to the different policies that provide financial protection for the whole family – whether that includes a spouse, a domestic partner, one child, or multiple children

What are the best types of family life insurance policies?

There are various types of life insurance policies you can consider to protect your family. These include term — the best fit for most young families because it’s simple, cheaper than permanent life insurance, and lasts only for as long as you need it — and whole — a type of permanent coverage that doesn’t expire, has a cash value component that can be used for investing, and is usually five to 15 times more expensive than term. Whole is usually best suited for high-net-worth individuals and people with long-term financial obligations.

The most cost effective way to cover your whole family typically involves purchasing one or more individual term life insurance policies — one for each parent — with the addition of a child rider. A child rider is an optional policy add-on that pays a small death benefit if any of your children dies while your policy is active. This rider gives your children the option to convert the coverage to a policy of their own when they’re adults.

Other options to cover your family may include purchasing a whole life policy for your children or a spousal rider for your partner — a spousal rider is an add-on that ensures that if your spouse dies you’ll receive the death benefit. However these options can be more expensive or offer less coverage than you need.

Speak with an independent insurance agent to find out which life insurance options are best for your family. At Policygenius, our experts are licensed in all 50 states and can walk you through the entire life insurance buying process while offering transparent, unbiased advice.

Best family life insurance

Methodology: best family life insurance in 2022

We don't get paid for our company reviews and use an extensive rubric of criteria covering policy details, price, financial confidence, third-party ratings, and customer experience to assign unbiased ratings out of five stars. Any recommendations we make are based on internal and external expert opinions and data from our Policygenius Price Index, which uses real-time rate data from leading life insurance companies to determine pricing trends.

Our ratings and reviews can help point you to an insurer you can rely on for your family’s financial protection, but the best life insurance company for you is dependent on multiple factors. A licensed agent at Policygenius can work with you through the application process so you’re getting coverage from the best insurer for your circumstances at the most competitive price.

→ Read more about our reviews methodology here

Best overall family life insurance

AIG

4.6

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

AIG logo

With competitive pricing and a range of flexible term periods for its Select-a-Term product, AIG is a solid option for many life insurance shoppers.

Pros

  • Competitive pricing for all ages

  • Customizable term policies

  • Strong financial confidence

Cons

  • Mixed customer ratings

  • Cumbersome quote tool

Why we picked it

AIG is highly competitive when it comes to price. It also offers an affordable and customizable child rider. You can add anywhere between $500 and $25,000 of coverage in addition to your policy to cover any children, making sure your whole family is covered. Your child can even convert the rider into a permanent policy of their own up until their 25th birthday.

AIG is also a good option if you’re applying while pregnant. They will consider your application at any stage of pregnancy as long as there are no complications, while other insurance companies might postpone applications during the second or third trimester until after delivery.

Cheapest family life insurance

Protective

4.9

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Protective logo

Protective has some of the most affordable and comprehensive life insurance options available.

Pros

  • One of the best values on the market

  • Variety of coverage amounts and term lengths

  • Solid suite of online tools

Cons

  • Slow application approval

  • Zero no-medical-exam options

Why we picked it

Protective Life has affordable premiums regardless of your health, which is one of the main factors that determine how much you’ll pay for life insurance. In addition, their child rider option allows you to select between $1,000 and $25,000 of coverage, and you can add or drop the rider after your policy is in force if you need to. 

Best life insurance for young families

4.7

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Banner Life logo

Banner Life has some of the longest term lengths — up to 40 years — and most competitive life insurance rates available, even for people with a history of medical conditions.

Pros

  • Very competitive rates

  • Covers many health conditions

  • Term lengths up to 40 years

Cons

  • Strict temporary coverage eligibility

  • Reconsideration is paid for by the applicant

Why we picked it

Like Protective, Banner Life offers very affordable premiums. They also offer a no-medical-exam option — for people interested in skipping the medical exam during the application process — that can help you get coverage easier and faster. This can be especially convenient for young parents who are in above-average health. Banner Life’s option for a 40-year term can also cover young parents until retirement. The company also offers a child rider in two increments as well — either $5,000 or $10,000. 

Best child rider option for families

Transamerica

4.4

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Transamerica logo

Transamerica is one of the oldest and largest life insurance companies, with over 12 million active accounts today. It offers affordable rates for almost every age, and you can even skip the medical exam if you fall under a certain age or coverage amount.

Pros

  • Competitive rates for term insurance

  • No-medical-exam available for people under a certain age or coverage amount

  • Former smokers may be eligible for lower rates

Cons

  • Uneven customer experience

  • Most policy changes require a paper form

Why we picked it

Transamerica offers a comprehensive child rider option that allows you to add anywhere between $1,000 and $99,000 of additional coverage to protect any children between the age of 15 days and 18 years old. This rider can be added or dropped after your policy is approved, and even after your policy is placed in force. 

Best family term life insurance

AIG

Why we picked it

Consistent with our top overall pick, AIG is a great option for term life for families due to their child rider availability and favorable application guidelines for pregnancy. They also have a faster turnaround time on average than other companies, which can lead to a more seamless application process. 

Best family whole life insurance

MassMutual

3.8

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

MassMutual logo

MassMutual’s whole life insurance plan provides a lifetime coverage option that builds cash value with the potential to earn dividends.

Pros

  • Strong financial stability ratings

  • Potential for dividends

  • Offers a variety of permanent life insurance products

Cons

  • No option to skip the medical exam

  • High premiums

Why we picked it

MassMutual offers a variety of permanent life insurance products that pay higher dividends to cash value policyholders than many competitors. The insurer also offers child whole life policies, which are more expensive than child riders but can serve as another way to provide financial protection for your child. The company has high customer experience ratings as well as high third-party financial stability ratings.

Summary of the best life insurance for families

Company

Policygenius rating

Best for

Types of policies

AIG

4.6/5

Families, child riders

Term life, guaranteed issue whole life, universal

Protective

4.9/5

Term life, affordability

Term life, whole life, universal

Banner Life

4.7/5

Term life, young families, affordability

Term life, universal life

Transamerica

4.4/5

Term life, affordability, child riders

Term life, whole life, universal

MassMutual

3.8/5

Whole life

Term life, whole life, universal

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How much does a family life insurance plan cost?

If you wanted life insurance coverage for a family with two relatively healthy parents and one or more children, the total monthly cost could be as low as $77 (under $1,000 per year).

Sample family life insurance premiums: Two parents and children

Family member     

Coverage                               

Monthly premium

35-year-old female

20-year, $1,000,000 term life insurance

$42.49         

35-year-old male  

20-year, $500,000 term life insurance  

$30.14        

One or more children      

$10,000 child rider                    

$4.58          

Total monthly premiums

$77.21

Sample family life insurance premiums: One parent and children

Family member

Coverage

Monthly premium

35-year-old male

20-year, $500,000 term life insurance

$30.14

One or more children

$10,000 child rider

$4.58

Total monthly premiums

$34.72

Sample family life insurance premiums: One parent and one child

Family member

Coverage

Monthly premium

35-year-old female

20-year, $500,000 term life insurance

$25.43

One child

$10,000 child rider

$4.58

Total monthly premiums

$30.01

Methodology: Average monthly estimated rates are calculated for 35-year-old male and female non-smokers in a Preferred health class, obtaining a 20-year, $1,000,000 term policy with a $10,000 child rider and a 20-year, $500,000 term life insurance policy with a $10,000 child rider. Life insurance averages are based on a composite of policies from 10 carriers that offer policies through the Policygenius marketplace. Individual rates will vary as specific circumstances will affect each customer's rate. Rate illustration valid as of 08/15/2022.

Life insurance riders for your family

Child rider

A child rider is one of the most common riders, or add-ons, you can include on your policy. This gives your child or children a small amount of coverage and the price gets included in your individual premiums. One child rider typically covers all eligible children in a family. If you have another child when you already have your life insurance policy, you can typically add them by contacting the insurance company. 

Spousal rider

There’s also an other-insured rider which is commonly used for spouses, sometimes called a spousal rider. This rider provides coverage for the spouse in addition to the original insured. This add-on is becoming less common because it usually makes sense for both spouses to have their own policy. If the first spouse were to pass away, the rider wouldn’t be in effect anymore, and the second spouse would likely still need their own coverage. 

Who needs to get family life insurance?

If the breadwinner in your family has life insurance coverage, you might think you’re set. However, any family member who provides for your household should own life insurance to ensure you have financial support for:

  • Childcare 

  • Daily living expenses

  • End-of-life expenses

  • Future college expenses

  • Outstanding loans, like a mortgage

Even if you think a non-working spouse or a live-in parent doesn’t need coverage, consider whether they provide childcare or housekeeping you’d otherwise pay for. A life insurance payout can go toward covering those expenses.

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Tips for buying family life insurance

  1. Consider your insurance needs Many financial advisors recommend ten to 15 times earned annual income as a benchmark for your coverage. Below are a few examples of questions you can ask yourself to figure out how much life insurance you might need.

    • Who’s dependent on my income?

    • How long would I like to provide financial support for my spouse/dependents?

    • How much would my spouse/dependents need to cover living expenses, especially rent or a mortgage?

    • How much would my spouse need to cover other joint financial obligations, like children’s college tuition?

  2. Compare quotes from reputable companies If you have children, you may want to proceed with a company that has a child rider option. At Policygenius, we work with more than 10 different carriers with high financial ratings, and have non-commissioned agents who can help point you in the right direction. 

  3. Follow the application process Once you apply, you’ll need to wait for the insurance company to review your application and offer your official rates. This process is called underwriting and can take four to six weeks on average. At the end of the process, you’ll get your final policy offer and can decide to purchase your policy. Once you make the first premium payment, your policy becomes active or "in force."

3 considerations when buying family life insurance

1. Purchasing life insurance with your spouse

When buying life insurance with your spouse, you have the option to buy two individual life insurance policies or one joint policy. Most couples should buy separate policies, which provide better and more affordable protection for your dependents.

Joint life insurance policies are best for families if one spouse doesn’t qualify for an individual policy or the life insurance payout is meant to cover estate or inheritance taxes. 

2. Buying separate life insurance policies

If you opt to purchase individual life insurance policies for you and your spouse, each person will need to go through the application process separately. Your premiums might differ from the premiums your spouse receives, depending on your respective health histories.

You can work with an insurance agent to navigate the application process together. You can also take the medical exam at the same time if it’s required.

3. Buying a joint life insurance policy

A joint life insurance policy may seem simpler because you can share one life insurance policy with your partner. However, most joint options are costly permanent life insurance policies and are best reserved for specific circumstances.

There are two types of joint policies: 

  • First-to-die: Pays the death benefit after the first spouse dies, and is an option if one spouse can’t qualify for affordable individual coverage. 

  • Second-to-die: Also called survivorship life insurance, it pays the death benefit after the second spouse dies. Second-to-die is most useful for inheritance planning.

Combining your coverage in one joint policy means that if one spouse is less healthy than the other, you’ll pay more for the joint policy than you would as individuals. In the event of a divorce, joint policies can also complicate proceedings.

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More family life insurance options

Frequently asked questions

What is a family life insurance policy?

Family life insurance refers to a combination of life insurance policies and riders — or policy add-ons — that protect your whole family. Some insurers and brokers process these policies at the same time.

Do I need life insurance for every member of my family?

Any adult that contributes to your household should have life insurance, including a non-working spouse or your own parents. Children rarely need their own life insurance.

How much does it cost to get life insurance for a family?

A couple with a $1,000,000, 20-year term life insurance policy for one parent, with a child rider to cover any children, and a $500,000, 20-year term policy for the other parent could spend around $77 per month on life insurance. Costs vary depending on your profile and needs.

Which insurance is best for a family?

The best life insurance will depend on your specific situation, but term life insurance with a child rider is a great option for many young families because it’s straightforward and relatively cheap.

How much does life insurance cost per month for a family of 4?

It will depend on your health and how much coverage you need, but life insurance for a family of four can cost under $80 per month, or under $1,000 for the year.

Can I get life insurance on a family member?

You can get life insurance on your family members. If they’re children, you can purchase a whole life policy or a child rider. If they’re an adult, like your spouse or your parents, they’ll need to sign off on their own policy.

Authors

Associate Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Katherine Murbach

Associate Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

gray twitter icon linkgray linkedin icon link

Katherine Murbach is an associate editor and a licensed life insurance expert at Policygenius. Previously, she wrote about life and disability insurance for 1752 Financial, and advised over 1,500 clients on their life insurance policies as a sales associate.

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Amanda Shih

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

gray twitter icon linkgray linkedin icon link

Amanda Shih is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius, where she covered life insurance and disability insurance. Her expertise has appeared in Slate, Lifehacker, Little Spoon, and J.D. Power.

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