Cost & Coverage
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A married couple can complete their financial safety net by making sure they both have life insurance.
If you’re shopping for life insurance, you probably recognize the need to have a financial safety net for your family. But if you’re married, your safety net might not be complete unless your spouse also has a life insurance policy. Spouses can save time and hassle by shopping for policies together to protect their family’s future. To shop for life insurance with your spouse, you need to know about:
Whether you’re shopping for life insurance alone or with a spouse, there are a few things you always have to do. This includes:
It’s important to know how much life insurance you actually need, in terms of both coverage amount and term length.
The best way to take to this is to take a needs-based approach and calculate your financial obligations. This involves taking into account:
The beneficiary is the person who will receive the death benefit in the event that the policyholder dies. Most spouses shopping together will choose their partner, but you may choose your children or even an institution, like a charity or museum.
Policyholders can choose multiple beneficiaries, or pick a primary beneficiary and a contingent beneficiary.
You will also need to decide if you need a term life insurance policy or a permanent policy, like whole life. Term insurance is cheaper but expires after a certain number of years; whole is more expensive but doesn’t lapse and includes an interest-gaining cash value component.
Depending on the health status of both you and your spouse, you should take into account what insurance companies you’re considering. Some are better than others at accommodating health conditions like diabetes or high cholesterol and provide lower premiums for applicants with those conditions.
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One unique factor in shopping for life insurance with a spouse is the decision to buy two separate policies — one for each of you — or a single joint policy that covers both of you.
The most common way for spouses to buy life insurance is to buy two separate policies at the same time. Unfortunately, while this bulk purchase doesn’t result in lower premiums, there are still some benefits:
A joint life insurance policy is one policy that covers two people. They can be term or permanent policies. The main consideration is if you want a first-to-die or survivorship policy.
Both types of joint policies have benefits and drawbacks. First-to-die policies are typically more expensive, but survivorship policies don’t work as well as income replacement since both policyholders must be deceased before they pay out.
Separate term policies are typically the best option, because they’re cost-effective and provide flexibility in terms of how long each policy lasts and what customizing riders each policy has. But joint life insurance can be convenient because there’s only one policy throughout the process.
The best life insurance for married couples will depend on the individual circumstances, so you should talk to a licensed expert about whether separate policies or a joint policy is right for you and your spouse.
Since life insurance is primarily for income replacement, it may seem like non-working parents don't need it. But while non-working parents don’t provide direct income, they do perform labor that would have to be replaced if they weren't around, including childcare.
A non-working spouse can generally qualify for up to 100% of the coverage of their working spouse.
One final consideration: Can you buy a life insurance policy for your spouse without involving them, or vice versa?
The answer is no, because there are several hurdles involved. First, if you’re taking out a life insurance policy on someone else, you need to demonstrate insurable interest — that is, proof that you would be financially burdened if that person died. It’s what allows business partners to take out policies on each other.
Second, you’ll need to get through the entire underwriting process. That means knowing all of the person’s health and identifying information. Even if you have all that, you’d need to apply for a no-medical exam policy or else the person will have to take the paramedical exam.
Finally, the person would need to sign the policy and give consent. Unless you’re willing to commit fraud, you’ll need to bring your spouse into the process at some point.
Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.
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Yes, we have to include some legalese down here. Read it larger on our legal page. Policygenius Inc. (“Policygenius”) is a licensed independent insurance broker. Policygenius does not underwrite any insurance policy described on this website. The information provided on this site has been developed by Policygenius for general informational and educational purposes. We do our best efforts to ensure that this information is up-to-date and accurate. Any insurance policy premium quotes or ranges displayed are non-binding. The final insurance policy premium for any policy is determined by the underwriting insurance company following application. Savings are estimated by comparing the highest and lowest price for a shopper in a given health class. For example: for a 30-year old non-smoker male in South Carolina with excellent health and a preferred plus health class, comparing quotes for a $500,000, 20-year term life policy, the price difference between the lowest and highest quotes is 60%. For that same shopper in New York, the price difference is 40%. Rates are subject to change and are valid as of 2/17/17.
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