Best life insurance for spouses (2024)

Buying a separate life insurance for your spouse or domestic partner is often easier and cheaper than buying a joint policy for both of you. Our top picks for life insurance for couples include Legal & General America, Protective, and Corebridge Financial.

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Tory CrowleyAssociate Editor & Licensed Life Insurance AgentTory Crowley is an associate life insurance and annuities editor and a licensed insurance agent at Policygenius. Previously, she worked directly with clients at Policygenius, advising nearly 3,000 of them on life insurance options. She has also worked at the Daily News and various nonprofit organizations.&Katherine MurbachEditor & Licensed Life Insurance AgentKatherine Murbach is a life insurance and annuities editor, licensed life insurance agent, and former sales associate 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.

Edited by

Antonio Ruiz-CamachoAntonio Ruiz-CamachoAssociate Content DirectorAntonio helps lead our life insurance and disability insurance editorial team at Policygenius. Previously, he was a senior director of content at Bankrate and CreditCards.com, as well as a principal writer covering personal finance at CNET.
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Reviewed by

Kristi Sullivan, CFP®Kristi Sullivan, CFP®Certified Financial PlannerKristi Sullivan, CFP®, is a certified financial planner and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius. Previously, she was a regional consultant at Fidelity Investments for nine years.

Updated|6 min read

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When shopping for life insurance with your spouse or domestic partner, buying two individual life insurance policies usually makes the most financial sense and is the most cost-effective option. However, getting one joint life insurance policy to cover both spouses can be a better option for some couples in rare cases.

Key takeaways

  • Married couples, domestic partners, and business partners have the option of buying separate life insurance policies or a joint policy.

  • Joint life insurance policies insure both partners, but are costlier and are rarely the best option for couples.

  • Domestic partners have the same life insurance coverage options as married couples. It’s illegal to take out a life insurance policy on your spouse without their knowledge.

Why should couples consider getting life insurance?

Life insurance can protect the surviving spouse and any other members of your family from a significant financial hardship due to the loss of income if the other spouse were to die. Thirty percent of Americans say their household would struggle financially within one month if their partner died. [1] If you die while your life insurance policy is active, your beneficiaries can claim the death benefit, which is usually delivered as a tax-free lump sum.

Newlyweds can work together to ensure their life insurance coverage is enough for any new, shared, or anticipated expenses — including child care, future financial obligations, shared debt like a mortgage, and funeral expenses. [2]

The cost of life insurance is much cheaper when you’re young and healthy, so you and your spouse can save a significant amount of money by planning accordingly and buying coverage as early as possible.

What are the best types of life insurance for couples?

Term life insurance is one of the most affordable ways to provide financial protection for your loved ones. 

  • Term life is easy to manage and covers you during the period of your life when you have the biggest expenses, like child care and a mortgage. 

  • A term life policy can last up to 40 years, but it eventually expires. If an insured person dies while the policy is active, their beneficiary — who can be the surviving spouse or any other family member — will receive the death benefit.

Common term lengths include:

Permanent life insurance, on the other hand, doesn’t expire and comes with a cash value investment component you can take advantage of while you’re still alive. Whole life insurance is one of the most popular types of permanent life insurance policies.

  • In general, permanent life insurance is significantly more expensive than term life insurance.

  • Permanent policies are best used in certain situations, like if you’ve maximized contributions to other investment accounts or if you have a lifelong dependent.

If your employer offers life insurance as part of a benefits package, you may be able to add supplemental coverage for your spouse (also known as voluntary spouse life insurance) through the same group policy. This option can be used to supplement existing coverage. It can also be helpful to add if your spouse doesn’t qualify for a traditional policy.

Supplemental spouse life insurance

If your employer offers life insurance as part of a benefits package, you may be able to add supplemental coverage for your spouse (also known as voluntary spouse life insurance) through the same group policy. This option can be used to supplement existing coverage. It can also be helpful to add if your spouse doesn’t qualify for a traditional policy due to health or lifestyle reasons.

A few caveats apply: 

  • Employers can limit the amount of additional coverage available.

  • You lose supplemental spouse coverage if you leave your employer.

  • Your spouse may be asked medical questions and can be denied coverage.

Because this type of insurance is contingent on your employment, it’s best to treat supplemental and voluntary spouse life insurance as complements to your existing life insurance plan. Ideally it won’t be the only life insurance coverage your spouse has. 

Spousal insurance rider

Riders are additional features you can add to your life insurance policy to add extra coverage under specific circumstances. 

  • The spousal insurance rider adds a small amount of coverage for your spouse to your policy, in addition to your own payout. 

  • The payout from this rider can help cover the costs of household labor, like childcare, even if your spouse isn’t the primary breadwinner. 

In order to offer the insurance protection needed for a family, most insurance agents will advise that each spouse should have their own individual insurance policy, whether or not they opt to include riders.

Joint life insurance: Do you and your spouse need it?

Joint life insurance is a type of life insurance that covers two people — most often spouses — under one policy.

  • This type of life insurance can be beneficial in rare circumstances — for example, if you and your spouse share a significant amount of assets.

  • Joint life insurance can also be a coverage option if one of the spouses wouldn’t be eligible for an individual life insurance policy on their own due to health or age reasons.

  • However, when you buy a joint policy, you could end up paying more to accommodate one person’s older age or health status. 

A survivorship life insurance policy — also known as second-to-die joint life insurance — covers two people, and only pays out the death benefit when both parties have died. 

  • It’s much more expensive than term life insurance, since it’s a type of permanent life insurance.

  • Survivorship life insurance can be used as an estate planning tool, a coverage option for a spouse in poor health, or financial support for lifelong dependents.

When is joint life insurance a good idea?

Joint life insurance may be your best option for coverage if: 

  • You and your spouse share significant assets or debt

  • One spouse has significant health issues and wouldn’t otherwise be able to get coverage

  • If the couple shares responsibility for a child who'll be a lifelong dependent 

  • You need to make sure your estate has liquidity when one or both partners pass away

  • Business partners can set up a joint buy-sell agreement to protect their business if one or both people die

Generally speaking, a joint policy “is rarely a good idea,” says Policygenius senior sales associate Warren Robbins. By buying separate policies for you and your wife, husband, or partner, you ensure each of you is getting the best rates for your specific health profile, age, and gender.

Pros & cons of joint life insurance

Pros

Cons

Helps provide permanent coverage if you have an child who’ll be financially dependent for life

Can create liquidity in your estate when you die 

Can provide coverage if one partner is unable to get affordable insurance on their own

Usually more expensive than two separate policies 

Expensive policy that you must keep active until one or both people die in order to benefit from

Ready to shop for life insurance?

Best life insurance companies for married couples

We used industry data, pricing from Policygenius carrier partners, and ratings from third parties like AM Best and J.D. Power to pick the best life insurance companies for couples on the market. Our independent recommendations will help you get life insurance coverage with confidence.

These picks are for buying a separate term life insurance for each spouse. If you’re interested in exploring joint life insurance options, a Policygenius agent can help. 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.

Methodology

Why you can trust our picks

Our recommendations are based on internal and external expert analysis, as well as our Policygenius Life Insurance Price Index, which uses real-time data from leading life insurance companies to determine pricing trends. When reviewing a life insurance company, our editorial team uses a proprietary scoring rubric with five factors — price, policy details, financial strength, transparency, and customer experience — to assign an unbiased rating between one and five stars. These ratings are also taken into consideration as part of our company recommendations. We don’t get paid for our reviews.

Our reviews and recommendations can help you find a reliable insurer for your family’s financial protection, but the best life insurance company for you depends on multiple factors. A licensed agent at Policygenius can support you during the application process to ensure you get the right coverage for your circumstances at the most competitive price.

Read more about our reviews methodology

Legal & General America, which also does business as Banner Life and William Penn, stands out for offering some of the longest terms and cheapest rates on the market. You and your partner can purchase 35-year or 40-year term policies at an affordable cost, which can be especially useful if you plan to have children and want to lock in low rates while you’re young.

Legal & General America’s application is easy and often doesn’t require a medical exam. Many people who are young and in good health can apply and get coverage within a few days.

Cheapest life insurance for spouses: Protective

Protective

Protective logo

Policygenius rating 

Our proprietary rating methodology takes multiple factors into account, including customer satisfaction, cost, financial strength, and policy offerings. See the "methodology" section for more details.

Full orange starFull orange starFull orange starFull orange starHalf orange star

4.8

AM Best rating 

AM Best is a global credit rating agency that scores the financial strength of insurance companies on a scale from A++ (Superior) to D (Poor).

A+

Cost 

Using a mix of internal and external rate data, we grade the cost of each insurance company's premiums on a scale from least expensive ($) to most expensive ($$$$$).

$

$

$

$

$

30+ year terms

Why we chose itchevron icon

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

Pros and conschevron icon

Pros

  • Competitive rates for all ages and health classifications

  • Good for people with mental health conditions, kidney conditions, and some cancers, including prostate cancer

  • Term lengths up to 40 years

Cons

  • Not available in New York

  • Not great for people who have had bankruptcy, marijuana users, or visa holders

  • Limited no-medical-exam policy options

Protective offers term lengths up to 40 years and coverage amounts up to $50 million. It consistently offers some of the lowest rates on the market, regardless of term length. Spouses and domestic partners can also add an accelerated death benefit rider to their life insurance policy at no charge. This add-on allows you to access your death benefit early if you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Best life insurance for new families: Corebridge Financial

award icon

2024 Policygenius award winner

Corebridge Financial

Corebridge Financial logo

Policygenius rating 

Our proprietary rating methodology takes multiple factors into account, including customer satisfaction, cost, financial strength, and policy offerings. See the "methodology" section for more details.

Full orange starFull orange starFull orange starFull orange starHalf orange star

4.6

AM Best rating 

AM Best is a global credit rating agency that scores the financial strength of insurance companies on a scale from A++ (Superior) to D (Poor).

A

Cost 

Using a mix of internal and external rate data, we grade the cost of each insurance company's premiums on a scale from least expensive ($) to most expensive ($$$$$).

$

$

$

$

$

30+ year terms

All 50 states

Why we chose itchevron icon

With competitive pricing and a range of flexible term periods for its Select-a-Term product, Corebridge is a solid option for many life insurance shoppers. Note: We are currently using AIG’s financial strength ratings until Corebridge has its own rating.

Pros and conschevron icon

Pros

  • Competitive pricing for all ages

  • Favorable underwriting for people with heart conditions and diabetes

  • Good for current and recently pregnant people, including people with gestational diabetes

Cons

  • Not the best for people with mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression

  • No no-medical-exam term option

Corebridge Financial (formerly AIG Life & Retirement) is one of the best options for life insurance for couples with children. You can add a child rider for anywhere between $500 and $25,000 of coverage in addition to your own policy, for as low as an extra $2.50 per year per $500 of coverage. Child riders allow you customize your policy and add coverage for your children, separate from the main death benefit of your policy.

Comparing the best life insurance companies for spouses of 2024

Company

Policygenius rating

Best for

AM Best rating

Protective

4.9/5 ★

Affordability

A+

Legal & General America

4.7/5 ★

Young couples

A+

Corebridge Financial

4.6/5 ★

New families

A

Learn more about the best life insurance companies of 2024

How to shop for life insurance with your spouse

After you and your partner determine that you want life insurance coverage, you’ll buy life insurance the same way as single shoppers.

Here’s how to get a life policy with your spouse.

  1. Determine how much life insurance you need as a couple. By figuring out the right amount of life insurance you need and a term policy’s length that makes sense for your family, you can avoid overpaying for coverage.

  2. Compare quotes from reputable companies. You and your spouse’s age, gender, health, and lifestyle will all affect which life insurance company is best for you. Working with an independent broker like Policygenius can help you compare policies from multiple insurers at the same time.

  3. Submit your application and wait for approval. Next, you and your spouse will each fill out your applications. After you submit them to the insurer, it can take up to four to six weeks to get an approval, but the process may move faster if you’re eligible for no-exam life insurance.

  4. Sign your policy and pay your first premium. At the end of the application process, you’ll get your final policy offer. Once you sign your policy documents and make your first payment, your coverage becomes active.

A licensed agent at Policygenius can help you with each of these steps to ensure that you and your partner are getting the best coverage to meet your financial needs. 

Ready to shop for life insurance?

Other considerations for couples

Can you get life insurance if you’re in a domestic partnership? 

Couples in domestic partnerships are eligible for the same life insurance policies as married couples. During the application process, insurance companies will confirm there’s insurable interest between you and your partner, which means you’d be financially impacted if one partner died.

Sharing expenses like utility bills, rent, a mortgage, or costs related to childcare all demonstrate this kind of financial justification for a life insurance policy.

Is your spouse automatically your life insurance beneficiary?

You can designate your spouse as your life insurance beneficiary, and most people do — but you have to specifically name them as such in your policy. Marital status doesn’t entitle anyone to automatically become a beneficiary on their spouse’s life insurance policy.

You also have the freedom to change your beneficiary as needed, so even if you do name your spouse as your beneficiary, you can easily change your beneficiary if they die, you get divorced, or you wish to name someone else.

Buying life insurance for other family needs

References

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Policygenius uses external sources, including government data, industry studies, and reputable news organizations to supplement proprietary marketplace data and internal expertise. Learn more about how we use and vet external sources as part of oureditorial standards.

  1. LIMRA

    . "

    2023 Life Insurance Fact Sheet

    ." Accessed March 25, 2024.

  2. Insurance Information Institute

    . "

    10 questions to help assess your changing insurance needs

    ." Accessed March 25, 2024.

Authors

Tory Crowley is an associate life insurance and annuities editor and a licensed insurance agent at Policygenius. Previously, she worked directly with clients at Policygenius, advising nearly 3,000 of them on life insurance options. She has also worked at the Daily News and various nonprofit organizations.

Katherine Murbach is a life insurance and annuities editor, licensed life insurance agent, and former sales associate 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

Antonio helps lead our life insurance and disability insurance editorial team at Policygenius. Previously, he was a senior director of content at Bankrate and CreditCards.com, as well as a principal writer covering personal finance at CNET.

Expert reviewer

Kristi Sullivan, CFP®, is a certified financial planner and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius. Previously, she was a regional consultant at Fidelity Investments for nine years.

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