Life insurance for married couples

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Life insurance can provide your family with a financial cushion in the event that anything happens to you or your spouse. Shopping around for life insurance is similar to shopping for other insurance policies like auto insurance and homeowners insurance; you’ll first want to understand your needs and then get a few quotes. Married couples may want to look into joint life insurance, rather than buying two separate policies.

When you and your spouse are shopping for life insurance, you may want to consider a few things, such as the amount of coverage you need to protect your dependents, the number of years your policy should last and whether you want a joint life policy or separate policies.

Why do married couples need life insurance

When searching for life insurance, you may want to consider how your family’s finances are set up and managed. Is one spouse the primary earner? Would either spouse have enough money to support the family if the other were to pass away? Often, buying life insurance for both spouses makes the most financial sense. Additionally, there are several other reasons why married couples would need life insurance.

Your expenses are increasing

If you and your spouse are adding expenses such as a new mortgage, higher rent, a new car payment or increased utility payments, both spouses must be prepared to take on the entirety of the expenses should one pass away. Obtaining life insurance for both partners in a marriage can help spare your spouse from financial hardships in the future.

You have debts

If you and your spouse have shared debts, like a mortgage, car payments or college debt for your children, you probably don’t want your partner to be completely responsible for repayments if you pass away. Life insurance can help ensure your spouse isn’t overwhelmed by debt payments if anything happens to you.

Life insurance can be cheaper if you buy it early

The cost of life insurance generally goes up as you get older and can be affected by many age-related health concerns. Buying life insurance at a younger age could help you secure a lower premium.

Joint vs. separate life insurance

Married couples may have the option of obtaining separate life insurance policies or a joint life insurance policy. A single life insurance policy will cover only one individual, while a joint life insurance policy will cover both spouses. Both options have pros and cons.

Joint life insurance policies

A joint life insurance policy, also known as a dual life insurance policy, covers both spouses and may be able to cover more individuals. These policies are generally used by married couples who want to cover both spouses under one policy. Married couples who want to lower life insurance costs and protect their assets from taxes after death may consider getting a joint insurance policy.

Joint life insurance comes in two options: first-to-die and second-to-die. In a first-to-die policy, the surviving spouse will receive the death benefit payout after the first spouse dies. In the second-to-die, also known as survivorship policy, the beneficiaries will receive the death benefit after both spouses have passed away.

Separate life insurance policies

A single life insurance policy will cover only one individual and will pay out a death benefit if the individual passes away. There are two main types of individual life insurance policies: term and permanent. Term policies cover you for a set period of time, usually 10 to 30 years, and permanent policies last for your lifetime and do not expire (assuming you pay the premiums). A separate life insurance policy is not tied to your marital status.

Buying separate life insurance policies allows each spouse to choose from a variety of different options, including term life, whole life and universal life insurance. Since the policies aren’t tied together, you’ll be able to personalize each to the needs of each spouse.

Which type of policy is best for us?

To determine which type of policy is best for you and your spouse, you will want to understand your circumstances and know what you both are looking for from your life insurance. Talking with a licensed agent might be helpful. Separate life insurance policies may be best for couples who prefer more customization in their individual policies, like different policy types or different amounts of coverage.

On the other hand, if you do not have separate preferences for coverage, then obtaining a joint policy may be the most suitable for you and your spouse. A joint policy means you’ll have just one life insurance bill to manage, rather than two. Another reason for obtaining a joint policy is if you and your spouse have one specific need, such as paying off a large debt like a home mortgage.

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

Domestic partners may experience the same needs that married couples have when it comes to financial security. However, not all states and life insurance companies offer domestic partnership life insurance, so you will need to do a bit of research into your state’s laws. Additionally, if you and your domestic partner are not legally married, you may be asked for more documentation during the underwriting process, such as proof of shared expenses and dependents, to prove your domestic partnership status.

While joint life insurance might not be available for all domestic partners, depending on the state they live in and the company they choose, separate policies are available. Individual policies aren’t tied to any kind of marital or partnership status. Domestic partners may be able to obtain an individual life insurance policy to help provide financial support to their partner after death.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best life insurance company for married couples?

The best life insurance company will largely depend on your needs and preferences. No single company will be the best for everyone. Understanding what factors matter most to you — like customer service, customization options or price — and then getting quotes from several carriers might help you find the right fit for your needs.

Is life insurance for married couples cheaper?

Not necessarily. Life insurance policies, even joint policies, are rated based on your age, health conditions and coverage amount. Your rates will vary based on your unique circumstances, just as they would if you were single.

Can I list my children as my beneficiaries?

Yes, but maybe not directly. If your children are 18 or older, you’ll likely be able to list them as beneficiaries without taking any other steps. However, if your children are minors, you might not be able to leave your death benefit directly to them. Most states and insurance companies have regulations about minor beneficiaries. You may need to create a trust to list as the beneficiary, or list your children’s legal guardian instead.

Written by
Grace Kim
Insurance Contributor
Grace Kim has two years of experience in writing for finance and insurance domains such as The Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in New Jersey at Bankrate and Reviews.com. She has written about auto, homeowners, renters and life insurance. She holds an M.Sc from New York University in Corporate Communications and has spent most of her professional experience writing about finance and tech topics.
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