When shopping for life insurance with your husband, wife, or domestic partner, buying two individual life insurance policies usually makes the most financial sense. While joint policies are available from some life insurance companies, they aren’t the most cost-effective option for most couples.
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. 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.
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.
Permanent life insurance, on the other hand, doesn’t expire and comes with a cash value investment component. 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.
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.
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 of the connection to your employment status and other potential restrictions, it’s best to treat supplemental and voluntary spouse life insurance as complements to your existing life insurance plan.
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 death benefit.
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.
But 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.
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.
If you have specific estate planning needs or you’re concerned that one spouse won’t qualify for their own policy, you can talk with a licensed agent to confirm if a joint life insurance is right for you and your family’s needs.
Best life insurance companies for married couples
We used industry data, pricing from Policygenius carrier partners, and third-party ratings 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.
Best life insurance for young couples: Legal & General America
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 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
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
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.
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.
Life insurance 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 or you get divorced.