More on Life Insurance
More on Life Insurance
Buying life insurance soon after getting married protects your financial future and can save you money long-term.
If you had wedding plans in 2020, you and your partner are probably all too familiar with facing the unexpected together. But, even if you had to postpone or downsize your wedding due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that doesn’t mean you should reduce your financial protection plans too. In a time of high risk and uncertainty, it may be more important than ever to have a life insurance plan for you and your spouse.
A life insurance policy guarantees you can support each other financially, even when one of you passes away. Many couples start to seriously consider buying a policy when they’re planning to have children, but buying a policy soon after you marry allows you and your spouse to start making a financial plan for the rest of your lives together, including any major purchases or additions to your family, and will most likely save you money long-term.
You or your spouse could suffer financially if the other passes away due to loss of income or unpaid loans
Life insurance provides assistance for these expenses and coverage for plans to buy property or raise children
If you’re relatively young and healthy when you marry, you’ll lock in more affordable premiums by buying sooner
When you get married, you’re not only combining your incomes, but you’ll begin sharing debts, building a savings plan together, and making major decisions about your joint future. Including life insurance in all of these plans will protect both of you, no matter where your marriage takes you.
While many couples are already splitting expenses in some way before marrying, signing a marriage certificate legally binds your earnings — and debts — together. Once you and your spouse begin taking on shared debts, like a mortgage or auto loan, you both become responsible for making those payments even if one of you passes away, and could lose your car or home if a loss of income prevents you from paying the bills.
Even if some debts, like private student loans, aren’t shared, a collections agency may be able to seize your spouse’s assets to recoup their losses, which could mean losing personal savings or property they hoped to pass on to you. A life insurance policy with a death benefit that accounts for all of your debts ensures that even if you or your spouse pass away, the partner left behind will be able to maintain their lifestyle and keep up with household expenses.
Life insurance policies last 10-30 years or more, and a lot of changes can happen between your wedding day and the day your policy expires. Buying a policy earlier in your marriage will encourage in-depth conversations about your finances and your goals for your family’s future.
You should have enough life insurance to cover your income or any housework you perform, but you should also include plans for buying property or having children when calculating your death benefit. While you may not know exactly how much your mortgage will cost, this is a great opportunity to get on the same page about the type of home you hope to buy, career goals, how you see household duties being shared, and the kinds of expenses you anticipate for the children you plan to have. Would you like to cover a future child’s college tuition or send them to private school? Those costs should be included in your life insurance policy and your financial planning discussions.
When you apply for life insurance, the insurance company will evaluate the risk of insuring you based on your age, health, and any risky behaviors or hobbies you have. The younger and healthier you are, the more affordable your life insurance premiums. In fact, every year that you delay buying a policy, the cost increases by 4.5-9% on average.
Once you buy a policy, you’re locked into those premiums as long as you keep your policy in force. So, if you get married at 25 years old, you might pay $45 per month for a 20-year, $1 million policy, but at 35 years old, you could pay $50 or more. Over those 20 years, you would save more than $1,000 by buying earlier.
Your life insurance policy should have a death benefit equal to at least 10-15 times your income, but should also factor in your debts and future expenses you anticipate. Spouses who don’t earn an income should still have a policy to account for their debts and any household contributions that would need to be replaced in the event of their death, like cleaning or childcare.
Consult with an independent insurance agent to figure out exactly how much coverage you need, and use our free life insurance calculator to get a sense of how much a policy will cost you.
There are several types of life insurance, but as a newlywed couple you’ll have a few common options:
Like most people, newlyweds will find owning separate term life insurance policies to be the most affordable option. Whole life insurance, the most common form of permanent life insurance, costs five to 15 times more than term life for similar coverage amounts. Joint life insurance is also costly, and if the policy only pays out when both partners die, then neither benefits from the policy’s payout. Meanwhile, a spousal rider could limit the amount of coverage available to your partner. Buying separate term policies gives you each the flexibility to customize your coverage (and may be easier to split in the unfortunate event of a divorce).
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While existing life insurance policies aren’t significantly impacted by COVID-19 (and pandemic-related deaths are covered), you may face a few new hurdles when shopping for a policy. Luckily, an independent insurance agent or broker can help you navigate any of the following potential roadblocks.
The medical exam: Buying life insurance traditionally includes a medical exam to evaluate your health risks. But if you’re quarantining, accelerated underwriting allows healthy applicants to skip the exam.
Traveling: If you traveled outside of the U.S. within the last 30 days, your application approval may be postponed, but some insurers are more lenient than others.
Quarantining out-of-state: If you’re quarantining outside of your home state, you may need to share paperwork matching the state you’re currently in, but some companies may be more flexible.
Contact with COVID-19: If you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19 or one of your close contacts contracted the virus, then your application approval could be delayed up to 90 days or until you’ve made a full recovery.
Of course, every marriage is different and your needs will vary, particularly during a pandemic. You and your spouse should buy life insurance to protect your future, and a licensed professional can help you find the best life insurance company so you and your partner can build a strong foundation together.
Buying life insurance is one way to set the foundation for your marriage. It ensures financial support if one of you passes away, and sparks conversations about buying property, family planning, and other shared financial goals. Buying sooner could also save you money.
Your death benefit should be equal to at least 10-15 times your income and be large enough to cover any debts you leave behind and future expenses, like the cost of raising a child.
Most married couples are better off buying separate term life policies for their affordability and simplicity. Joint life insurance tends to be pricier and some types of joint insurance don’t pay out until both spouses die, leaving one partner unprotected if the other predeceases them.
Amanda Shih is a life insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City. She has a passion for making complex topics relatable and understandable, and has been writing about insurance since 2017 with specialities in life insurance cost and policy types. She's previously written for Jetty and LegalZoom.