3 ways spouses can buy life insurance together


Adam Cecil

Adam Cecil

Former Staff Writer

Adam Cecil is a former staff writer for Policygenius, a digital insurance brokerage trying to make sense of insurance for consumers. He is a podcast producer, writer, and video maker based in Brooklyn, NY.

Published January 12, 2017 | 4 min read

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Couples do a lot of things together. They eat together, they sleep together, they live together. They go to IKEA together and bicker throughout the store. They go to the movies together, though not always to the same movie. Sometimes, they even have kids together, so their offspring may continue this cycle for another generation.

But should they buy life insurance together?

You probably already have a basic understanding of life insurance: you pay a monthly premium for a certain amount of coverage, and if you die while you’re covered, a sum of money is given to your survivors. Compared to other types of insurance, it’s relatively simple and straightforward.

When you get married, you and your spouse’s lives have officially become intertwined. That means that, yes, you eat and sleep and live together, but in addition to that, your financial lives are now connected. If one of you were to die unexpectedly, it would not only be emotionally devastating, but financially devastating as well.

This is true for both spouses that work and for stay-at-home spouses, as the work that they do would be incredibly expensive to replace.

Both you and your spouse may already be convinced to buy life insurance. Here are some ways you can go about buying together to get covered as soon as possible.

1. Buy two individual term life insurance policies

Term life insurance is the best option for most people – it’s cheaper than the alternative, permanent life insurance, and doesn’t feature a complicated cash value component.

Unfortunately, you can’t get a discount by buying multiple policies at the same time. Some companies may waive certain fees, but your focus should be on getting a policy that’s affordable and meets your needs. If either you or your spouse has a more complicated health history, it may make more sense for one (or both) of you to pursue a company that looks at those complications more favorably.

You can use our life insurance company reviews to see how favorably individual carriers view certain health complications.

2. Save time by taking a joint medical exam

The vast majority of life insurance policies require you to take a medical exam as part of the application process. Luckily for consumers, this medical exam is short, can take place in your home or office, and is free of charge.

But you know what would make it even more convenient? If both you and your spouse could just schedule one joint medical exam, instead of the usual two.

Well, today is your lucky day – if both you and your spouse are buying life insurance through the same agent, you can schedule one medical exam for both of your applications. You don’t even need to be buying life insurance from the same insurance company – as long as you’re working with the same agent, you can take a joint exam. This reduces a lot of extra scheduling, and makes the application process more convenient for you and your spouse.

3. Buy a joint life insurance policy

What if, instead of just getting a joint medical exam, you could get a joint life policy? Turns out, it is possible. Joint life insurance refers to a single policy that covers multiple people. This is different than group life insurance, which is typically offered through employers.

Joint life insurance comes in both term and permanent varieties, though most joint policies are permanent universal insurance policies. That means they have a cash value, are generally more expensive than comparable term policies, and can last you your entire lifetime(s), as long as you keep paying the premiums.

Beyond that, joint life insurance comes in two other varieties: first-to-die and second-to-die. These names describe when the benefit is paid out to your survivors. In first-to-die policies, the policy will be paid out whenever one of you dies. In second-to-die, both policyholders must die before benefits are paid out. Second-to-die policies are usually cheaper than first-to-die, for the obvious reason that it usually takes longer for both people in a couple to die.

Joint life insurance policies can be less expensive than two comparable term life insurance policies; however, they are more complicated. For example, in the event that you get divorced, you probably don’t want to be sharing a life insurance policy with your ex. Plus, with discounts from term life insurance companies for spouses, you may be able to save just as much with two separate policies.

Make sure you’re covered

Our usual advice is to get two separate term life insurance policies, as that’s typically the easiest way to ensure the lowest overall cost for the coverage you’ll receive, but the most important thing is making sure that both you and your spouse are covered in case of a worst-case scenario.

As we’ve written about before, time is the biggest danger to your financial plan, and if your time runs out before you expected it to, your family could be left in a devastating financial position.