Compare Joint Life Insurance

  • A joint life insurance policy can protect yourself and your partner financially if one of you dies
  • Taking out joint life cover often costs less that taking out two separate single life cover policies
  • Get a tailored quote and compare trusted joint life insurance providers
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What our Nerds say about joint life insurance

Joint life insurance allows partners to arrange the life cover they need to protect each other and their loved ones financially should the worst happen, using one policy rather than two. This means there is one premium to pay each month, which will generally work out cheaper than setting up two single life insurance policies.

Most joint life policies pay out on a first death basis, where the death of either policyholder during the policy term sees the surviving partner receive a lump sum that they might use, for example, to pay off a mortgage or support their cost of living going forward.

Alternatively, some joint life policies can be arranged on a second death basis, where a payout will only occur if both partners die during the term of the policy – here, the money goes to loved ones, often children, who survive you both. These joint life second death policies can be popular for those looking to take out life insurance to help with inheritance tax planning.

What is joint life insurance?

A joint life insurance policy provides life cover for two people, although typically it pays out only once. Most commonly, this will happen should one of the policyholders die during the policy term, with a tax-free lump sum paid to the surviving partner.

You’ll only need to make one application and pay one monthly premium per couple.

Once a payout has been made, a joint life insurance policy ends. This means a surviving policyholder won’t have any ongoing life cover under that particular policy and may want to explore taking out a new policy.

How does joint life insurance work?

When taking out joint life insurance as a couple, you’ll both need to agree on the length of time the policy will run – the policy term – and the amount of cover that you want in place.

You’ll also need to decide if you want:

  • Level term cover: Where the amount paid out is always the same, regardless of when you die during the policy term.
  • Decreasing term cover: Where the payment amount gradually decreases as the policy term progresses, usually with the aim of covering the outstanding balance on a repayment mortgage which should fall at a similar pace.
  • Whole of life cover: Where there is no policy term, meaning the policy will pay out whenever you die, rather than only during a set period of time.

Whichever type of cover you choose, insurers will ask both you and your partner about your personal and family medical histories, and your lifestyle habits, such as whether you smoke or drink alcohol. Honesty is vital, as your policy can be invalidated and a payout withheld if you die due to a health condition you’ve not disclosed when applying or because of alcohol or drug misuse. Missing monthly payments can also invalidate a policy and leave you without any cover.

When does joint life insurance pay out?

For joint life insurance, you must also choose the basis on which the policy is set up. This will determine when it might pay out. The two options are:

Joint life first death insurance

Usually, joint life insurance is set up on a ‘first death’ basis. This sees the amount covered paid out on the first death of either policyholder during the policy term. The money goes to the surviving partner, but as the policy ends automatically after one payout, they will no longer be covered under that policy. In the unfortunate event that both partners die at the same time, your beneficiaries would receive a single payout for the amount the policy covers.

Joint life first death insurance is generally used to make sure a surviving partner is able to carry on meeting the financial responsibilities they share with their partner if one of them dies.

Joint life second death insurance

Alternatively, it’s possible for life insurance to be set up on a ‘second death’ basis. A joint life second death insurance policy only pays out if both die during the policy term. This single payment will go to your beneficiaries. If only one person dies within the term of the policy, there will be no payout to either the survivor or beneficiaries.

Joint life second death insurance might be useful for couples whose finances mean each could live comfortably if either were to die, but they would like to ensure their loved ones are supported should they both pass away. These policies can also be used as part of inheritance tax planning.

Which couples can get joint life insurance?

Taking out joint life insurance as a couple can be an option for:

  • married couples and civil partnerships
  • couples who are partners but not married
  • people who are not in a personal relationship, such as business partners

Is joint cover different to a single policy?

The main difference is that joint life insurance covers two people on one policy, whereas a single life insurance policy covers just one person. Other than that, single and joint policies work in broadly the same way.

If you have a partner, having two separate single life insurance policies is allowed and means that if one of you were to die, the surviving partner would still have their own life cover in place. It also means that beneficiaries could receive two separate payouts, and that each of you could set different levels of cover. The downside of this is that the cost of two single life policies is likely to be higher than for a joint policy.

Pros and cons of joint life insurance

Joint life insurance can offer certain benefits to couples wanting to arrange life cover, but there are some potential drawbacks to consider as well.

Advantages of joint life cover

  • It is usually cheaper than taking out two separate single life insurance policies.
  • You’ll have one application form to complete and one premium between the two of you.
  • You don’t need to be married to have joint life cover.
  • There can be an option for business partners.
  • With first death cover, a policy pays out regardless of who dies first.
  • Second death policies can be useful for estate planning.
  • It offers peace of mind that loved ones will be financially supported if you die with a life policy in place.

Disadvantages of joint life cover

  • There is only ever one payout, even if you die at the same time, while two single policies will each pay out separately.
  • If one partner dies under a first death policy, the life cover of the other will automatically end.
  • It might not be possible to split the cover if you separate from your partner.
  • If one partner stops paying their share of the premium, the cover will end unless the other partner picks up the cost.

How much joint cover do we need?

The level of joint life cover you need will depend on your circumstances and those of the loved ones you want to protect.

Think about how those you leave behind might be able to cope financially if you’re not there. Could they keep up with the mortgage repayments by themselves, or should paying off the mortgage with life cover be a priority? What other debts and expenses need covering, and how might your ability to work be affected?

As part of your calculations, remember to take into account any other life cover you might have too, such as death in service benefit from your work. Equally, you should think about the level of monthly premium that is affordable to you and your partner.

If you need help working it all out you have the option of speaking to a LifeSearch adviser to get dedicated advice based on your individual situation.

Is joint cover insurance worth it?

This depends on your circumstances but, if you’re a couple and want life cover, it’s worth exploring.

On the plus side, joint cover can often be less expensive than paying for two single life policies. The downside is that there can only be one payout, whereas with separate single policies, each policy could pay out. With a joint policy also ending when it has paid out, whoever lives the longest may need to arrange new cover which tends to get more expensive as you get older.

It can be a good idea to get quotes for joint life insurance and separate single life cover policies and weigh up the costs and benefits of each before you decide.

» COMPARE: Life insurance quotes

How much does joint cover insurance cost?

Getting joint life cover quotes tailored to your particular circumstances and preferences is the only way to find out how much joint cover might cost you.

How much you’ll pay will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • how much cover you want
  • the length of the policy term you want
  • how old you each are when you apply
  • whether you want level, decreasing or whole of life cover
  • if your policy is set up on a first death or second death basis
  • any health conditions either of you might have or medical conditions that run in your families
  • whether you and your partner smoke and how much alcohol you drink
  • the type of work you do
  • any optional extras you add, such as critical illness cover

As a rule, premiums get more expensive the older you are when applying, the larger your cover amount and the longer your chosen policy term. The cost will also vary depending on the type of life insurance you choose. Generally, whole of life cover tends to cost more than level term cover, while decreasing term cover tends to be the less expensive type of life insurance.

If either of you have any serious medical conditions, or an insurer sees the potential for problems in the future, a greater risk will be attached to your policy and you can expect to pay higher premiums too.

» COMPARE: Joint life insurance quotes

How can I compare joint cover insurance?

Our partnership with LifeSearch means you can compare joint life insurance quotes tailored to your needs right here.

There are a few short questions you’ll need to answer to get a quote, but we’ve broken the process down to help make it as manageable as possible. You’ll also find plenty of guidance and hints and tips along the way.

Please note that the joint life insurance quotes that we compare online provide cover on a ‘first death’ basis. To get a quote for a second death policy, you will need to speak to a LifeSearch adviser over the phone.

» COMPARE: Joint life insurance quotes

Joint Life Insurance FAQs

When might I think about setting up joint cover?

Joint life insurance cover can provide a financial safety net in many circumstances, particularly if you’re in a couple where covering your household outgoings depend on both of your incomes. Often this will include when you set up home with a partner and take a joint mortgage.

Business partners may want to consider joint life insurance if the death of one partner is likely to have a material financial impact on the business.

What will I need for my joint cover quote?

Although you may not legally need it, you should consider the benefits To get a joint life insurance quote you’ll each need to provide a few personal details, including your names, dates of birth, address and contact details, including whether you smoke. You’ll also need to think about the type of cover that you want, including how much and for how long. If you’re unsure, there is plenty of guidance to help you work this out each step of the way. This will generate quotes and from there you can evaluate if you wish to proceed directly with that provider.

Can we get joint over 50s life insurance?

Over 50s life insurance policies aren’t usually available on a joint basis, but you could each apply for an individual over 50s policy. These plans are guaranteed to pay out and don’t require you to take a medical to be accepted, but will usually cost much more than standard life insurance for an equivalent amount of cover.

» MORE: Over 50s life insurance

Is it better to get single or joint life insurance?

This will usually depend on your circumstances. The cost of joint life insurance can be lower than taking out two separate single life insurance policies, and joint cover can help ensure the financial priorities of each partner are protected should either of you die, particularly where there is a joint mortgage. However, most joint policies are first death, meaning a surviving partner will lose their cover once a payout has been made, but if the policy value considered this outcome at the outset, then this should leave the remaining policy holder in a good position, which is why getting the cover amount right is an important factor.

On the other hand, the alternative of each person taking a single life insurance policy will usually cost more overall but if one of you were to die, the life cover remains in place for the other person. This can be beneficial should you go your separate ways. It’s also usually worth considering single life insurance quotes if one of you is seen as a higher risk by insurers, perhaps due to health or lifestyle factors, which could lead to a higher premium on a joint policy.

» COMPARE: Life insurance quotes

What happens to a joint policy if I seperate from my partner?

Some life insurers offer joint life cover that includes a specific separation option, which allows the policy to be split into two individual policies without the need to apply again should your relationship end. In addition to this a court can also alter the policy as part of a financial settlement.

Are joint policies cheaper than individual policies?

Joint life insurance will often work out costing less than paying for two single life policies. However, it’s important to remember that joint life cover will only pay out once, whereas both individual policies could pay out, so two separate policies could provide more cover. Make sure you compare like-for-like policy values and consider the pros and cons of both types before moving forward.

Who benefits from a joint life insurance policy?

This depends on which basis a joint life policy is taken out. With joint life first death insurance, the surviving partner receives any payout. But with joint life second death insurance, where a payout is only made if you both die during the policy term, the money will go to your beneficiaries or estate.

About the author

Tim draws on 20 years’ experience at Moneyfacts, Virgin Money and Future to pen articles that always put consumers’ interests first. He has particular expertise in mortgages, pensions and savings. Read more

This life insurance comparison and quote service is presented via our partnership with LifeSearch Limited. The information you provide is used to generate quotes from LifeSearch. Nerdwallet Ltd does not form part of the service beyond presenting quotes.

LifeSearch Limited is registered at Wentworth House 440 Parkway, Solent Business Park, Whitely, Hampshire PO15 7FJ and is an Appointed Representative of LifeSearch Partners Limited and regulated under the Financial Conduct Authority ref: 402349.

LifeSearch Limited is not part of Nerdwallet Ltd or other Nerdwallet entities.

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