If you are pregnant or considering pregnancy, one of your many concerns as a prospective parent may be how to protect your family financially in the event you pass away. A good life insurance policy can help to alleviate some of this stress, but acquiring a policy can come with many questions: What does signing up for a policy entail? How does being a policyholder impact you? How do payouts work? Bankrate’s insurance editorial team digs into some of the considerations that may be on your mind if you’re looking for life insurance and are pregnant. Learning more about life insurance may help give you peace of mind about your family’s financial security.

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Can you get life insurance while pregnant?

Yes, you can get life insurance while pregnant, depending on the results of a medical exam. You will want to disclose your pregnancy to the healthcare professional who does your exam. The medical exam will likely include a blood or urine test, but won’t include a pregnancy test, so it is best to let the examiner know upfront.

Why? If you don’t disclose your pregnancy and pass away during childbirth or during the policy’s contestability period, which is usually two years, your partner’s claim on the policy could be denied. Even beyond the contestability period, any untruths on your application may constitute fraud, which could result in denied claims or legal complications.

When to apply for life insurance if you’re pregnant

The best time to apply for life insurance is before you are pregnant. Pregnancy is still considered a medical condition by life insurance companies and it can increase your premium. If you are planning a family, buying life insurance before getting pregnant might help you secure lower rates. If you don’t already have a policy in place, buying coverage during the first trimester of your pregnancy is the next-best option. You are less likely to be experiencing pregnancy-related complications during this period, and your weight gain — which may be a factor in determining your rates — will likely be lower than it will be later in your pregnancy.

If you are experiencing any complications from your pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes, elevated blood pressure or pre-eclampsia, your insurance representative may caution you to hold your application until after you give birth, to allow your body to return to its normal state. Some insurers take complications from previous pregnancies into account, or consider your age when pregnant. If you’ve had complications in the past, you may be better served by tabling your application and revisiting it six to 12 months after your child is born.

How pregnancy impacts life insurance rates

With some insurance companies, as long as the changes to your body are within normal parameters for a pregnant woman and you apply early in your pregnancy, your life insurance premiums may not be impacted. Weight gain and other bodily changes are expected with pregnancy, and as long as you have no pre-existing conditions or history of difficult pregnancies, your rates may remain similar to what they’d be if you were not pregnant.

However, keep in mind that every insurer has its own rules for writing policies for pregnant women, and you may want to ask your agent what the ramifications you might encounter if you  apply while pregnant. In general, your best bet with any insurer will be to apply as soon as you find out you are pregnant — or, better still, while you’re just planning your family for the future.

Choosing a beneficiary when you are pregnant

Many parents name their spouse or partner as the beneficiary of their life insurance. If you were to pass away, your spouse or partner may be the most likely person to whom parenting responsibilities — and thus an increased financial strain — will fall. Giving your partner the death benefit of your policy may help ensure that they are able to care for your child without significant financial strain.

You can also name your child (or children) as your beneficiaries, but naming minor children as your heirs can lead to legal complications. A better way to ensure that your child benefits from your life insurance policy if both you and your partner are gone is to designate a trusted legal guardian to oversee the payout from your policy and care for your children until they reach legal age, which is 18 in most states.

You can also set up a trust for your child or an account that is called a Uniform Transfers to Minors Act account, which allows a minor to receive gifts without the assistance of a guardian — but this option is rarely used. If you’re wondering what a trust is and how it works, your lawyer can go over the pros and cons of these types of accounts with you.

How to customize your insurance coverage if you are pregnant

One aspect of life insurance that may interest you if you’re pregnant is the ability to add riders, or endorsements, to your policy to customize the terms of your coverage. Every company offers its own slate of riders, but in general, there are a few that are useful to those expecting children.

Although it’s not pleasant to think about, a child rider pays out a small death benefit that would cover costs of burial if your child were to die at birth or soon after. The child rider takes away one source of worry if you are mourning a devastating loss, by providing for the costs of the funeral and burial.

A disability income rider protects you if you are permanently disabled and unable to work, but still need an income to care for your child or children, while a spousal rider or a separate policy for your spouse or partner will also offer additional protection in the case of the disability or death of either of you. However, disability riders do not cover short-term disability periods, like the first several immediately after giving birth.

If a spouse or partner is in the picture, you may consider holding a joint life insurance policy together. This coverage would leave a benefit for your child if something happens to you both. If one of you passes before the other, such a policy could help a surviving spouse to care for your child.

Frequently asked questions

    • If your children are over the age of 18, they will probably be legally able to receive your death benefit directly. If your children are still minors, you can name a trusted guardian for your children and name the guardian as the beneficiary of your death benefit. You could also choose to set up a trust and name that as the beneficiary. Speaking with a lawyer can help you decide which avenue to take.
    • One of the best methods to getting the lowest life insurance rates during your pregnancy is to apply for coverage as soon as possible. Buying life insurance before you are pregnant is often the best strategy. If you have already missed this window, you might want to get coverage as early as possible in your pregnancy. Life insurance premiums vary by carrier but not quite as much as auto or home insurance rates. However, it may still be helpful to compare quotes from several life insurance companies. Just remember that the best life insurance company will be different for everyone.
    • The best type of life insurance for you depends on your life insurance goals. Term life insurance typically has lower premiums, and you can tailor a policy to last just as long as you anticipate having dependents at home. Permanent life insurance, though often more expensive, won’t expire as long as you pay your premiums and offers a cash value that you could borrow against after a few years if needed. This type of policy will also only require one medical exam and not need periodic renewal. If you’re worried about the cost of life insurance, you may consider a term policy– but if your monthly budget is less constrained, a permanent policy may offer more long-term benefits.
    • Weight gain due to pregnancy may or may not affect your life insurance costs. Along with factors such as blood pressure, age and cholesterol, companies use weight to determine life insurance premiums, since obesity may lead to certain health issues. If you’re applying for a life insurance policy while pregnant, the company may use your pre-pregnancy weight, your current weight, or may simply determine whether or not you’ve exhibited healthy weight gain during the pregnancy. If your life insurance company plans to use your pregnancy weight to determine your premium, it will likely be cheapest to seek life insurance during your first trimester, when weight gain is minimal.