If you are the parent or guardian of a child with a disability, there are two types of life insurance policies to consider: a policy that insures you, the parent, and makes your child the beneficiary; or a policy that insures your child and makes you the beneficiary.
Insuring yourself is more commonly recommended, but there are circumstances where insuring your child could be a better option.
Every situation is different depending on your finances and the impact of the disability your child has, so we recommend working with a Policygenius agent and estate planning attorney to ensure that your child has the right financial protection.
Life insurance for parents of a child with disabilities
If you have a child, a life insurance policy is one way to make sure that their needs are still met when you die. If you have a child with disabilities, that kind of protection can be important once your child is an adult, as well.
If your child will need care into adulthood, a whole life insurance policy is the better choice. Whole life insurance costs five to 15 times more than term life insurance but provides lifetime protection that a term policy can’t.
You can consider a term life policy that has an option to convert to permanent life insurance if whole life doesn’t currently fit your budget or if your child won’t need continued care as an adult. You’ll have protection that you can afford and the ability to get permanent coverage later.
Setting up a supplemental needs trust
The best way to ensure your life insurance death benefit payout is used for your child’s care is to set up a supplemental needs trust, also called a special needs trust, and name it as your policy’s beneficiary.
Supplemental needs trusts are designed to provide for people who are unable to handle their own finances and care.
You can leave specific instructions for how and when to use trust funds and a trustee manages the funds within your specifications.
A co-trustee, such as a lawyer, guarantees the funds are being used correctly.
Though you might want to name your child as your beneficiary, insurance companies can’t pay out benefits to people under the age of majority (18 to 21, depending on your state). Your death benefit will get tied up in court proceedings and delay access to the funds.
Survivorship life insurance for parents of a child with disabilities
The best life insurance options for parents are usually individual term policies or individual whole life policies for each parent, but there’s another option: a joint life insurance policy that covers both parents.
Joint life insurance policies are whole life insurance policies that insure two people. They’re typically more affordable than buying a whole life policy for each parent, but still offer lifelong insurance protection.
Parents choosing joint life insurance should get survivorship life insurance, also called second-to-die life insurance, rather than first-to-die joint life insurance.
Survivorship policies pay out after both people insured pass away — first-to-die pays out after just one person dies — ensuring that your child isn’t left without financial support after you’re both gone.
Life insurance for children with disabilities
Insuring your child doesn’t usually make sense because they don’t earn an income. But a child with a complicated medical background may have difficulty finding affordable life insurance as an adult and can benefit from getting covered when they’re young.
While it’s hard to think about, getting coverage for your child can also provide financial support if they pass away prematurely. The proceeds from their policy could cover funeral costs or help you keep up with bills while you grieve.
How to buy life insurance for a child with disabilities
There are two ways to purchase life insurance for a child:
Whole life insurance for children: Most insurers offer small policies for children (usually $25,000 to $150,000 in coverage) that last for life. They’ll have an option to take over the policy as an adult, potentially with higher coverage and premiums.
Child insurance rider: These riders provide $5,000 to $25,000 of coverage for $20 to $200 per year. Some insurers allow you to convert the rider to a whole life policy when it expires, usually when your child turns 25 or you turn 65, whichever comes first. However, not all insurers approve child riders for children with pre-existing conditions.
Every parents’ needs are different. A Policygenius agent can help you decide on the right coverage for your family and an estate planning attorney can help you set up a trust and any other necessary documents to ensure your child has the financial protection they need.