What Is Couples Life Insurance?

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Updated: May 22, 2024

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Couples life insurance, also known as joint life insurance, is a type of policy that provides financial protection for both partners in a relationship under one policy. Couples can also get individual life insurance policies, which offer separate coverage for each partner.

Couples should consider life insurance to secure their financial future, protect their loved ones financially in case of an unexpected event and ensure financial stability for mortgage payments, childcare expenses and other shared financial responsibilities.

Life Insurance Options for Couples

Couples have two main options when it comes to life insurance: getting a joint policy that covers both partners under a single policy or opting for separate, individual life insurance policies for each partner. By understanding these life insurance options, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your shared goals and protects your family's financial future.

Joint Life Insurance

Joint life insurance is designed to cover two individuals under one policy. It's sometimes referred to as couples life insurance because it's a common choice for couples. That said, it can also be suitable for business partners, siblings or any two individuals who have a shared financial interest. The exact rules and requirements can vary depending on the specific insurance company and local regulations.

Understanding your options is important in making an informed decision that best aligns with your shared goals and ensures your family's financial protection. Whether it's joint term life insurance for those seeking coverage for a specific term, joint whole life insurance for lifelong coverage or joint universal life insurance for flexibility in premiums and benefits, each type of policy offers distinct advantages.

Couples can purchase joint life insurance policies for two main types of insurance:

  • Term Life Insurance: This policy provides coverage for a specified period, paying out if death occurs within that time frame. Term life insurance for married couples is an ideal choice for those seeking cost-effective coverage for a period of time, such as until a mortgage is repaid or children become financially independent.
  • Permanent Life Insurance: If a couple wants to build cash value over time or ensure lifetime coverage regardless of health changes, a permanent policy is a good option. While more expensive, it offers long-term security and wealth accumulation potential. Whole life and universal life are both types of permanent policies.

Joint life insurance can be further divided into first-to-die life insurance and last-to-die life insurance.

  • First-to-Die Life Insurance: This insurance pays out upon the first partner or spouse's death, offering immediate financial support to the surviving partner. This type of policy is best suited for couples who rely heavily on each other's income.
  • Survivorship Life Insurance (Last-to-Die): A more appropriate option for couples focused on leaving a substantial inheritance to surviving relatives or covering estate taxes. The payout is triggered upon the death of the last partner, securing a financial legacy for their heirs.

Individual Life Insurance

Individual life insurance policies offer flexibility and customization for partners who prefer to be covered by separate policies. Unlike joint life policies, they allow each partner to tailor coverage to their distinct circumstances, health profiles and financial needs. Individual life insurance is also available as both term and permanent policies.

The choice between joint life insurance and separate life insurance will depend on various factors, including your financial goals, health status and personal preferences. Consulting with a qualified insurance advisor can help. Whether you're looking to secure separate life insurance or explore joint life insurance options for you and your spouse, professional guidance can help you find the best life insurance for your needs.

Why Couples Should Get Life Insurance

Deciding to invest in life insurance as a couple is a pivotal step in your financial journey together. Life insurance — whether joint or individual — provides a financial safety net for couples, ensuring that if something were to happen to either partner, the surviving partner and other loved ones wouldn't be left grappling with an overwhelming financial burden.

Here are some common reasons couples may choose to get life insurance:

  • Debt Repayment: Life insurance can help cover any outstanding debts such as mortgages, car loans or credit card bills, ensuring the surviving partner isn't burdened with these liabilities.
  • Income Replacement: In the event of a partner's death, life insurance can replace lost income, helping the surviving partner maintain their standard of living.
  • Children's Future: Life insurance can secure your children's financial future, covering their education expenses and other developmental needs.
  • Funeral Expenses: The death benefit can cover funeral costs, relieving the surviving partner from immediate out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Estate Taxes: Life insurance can be used to cover any potential estate taxes, ensuring your beneficiaries receive the full extent of your estate.

Understanding the different types of coverage available and considering specific circumstances will help couples make informed choices that align with their long-term financial goals.

How to Get Couples Life Insurance

The following steps will help you navigate the process of securing a joint life insurance policy with your partner:

Assess Your Financial Needs

Start by considering the financial impact that losing one partner would have on the other. Consider factors such as income replacement, mortgage and other debt repayments, future expenses such as children's education and ongoing living costs.

Research Different Policies and Providers

With your needs in mind, explore different life insurance companies and the policies they offer. Online life insurance comparison sites can be useful tools to find life insurance for couples but don't forget to check the providers' websites directly for additional details.

Apply for Your Chosen Policy

Once you've chosen a provider and policy, you'll need to submit an application. This typically involves answering questions about your health, lifestyle and financial situation. The insurance company uses this information in its underwriting process to determine your premium rates.

Undergo a Medical Examination

Depending on the provider and policy, you may need to undergo a medical examination as part of the underwriting process.

Review the Policy Terms

If your application is approved, review the policy terms carefully before signing. Make sure the coverage and terms align with your needs, and don't hesitate to ask questions if there's anything you're unsure about.

Pay Your Premiums

Once you've signed for your policy, you'll need to start paying your premiums. Be sure to keep up with these payments to ensure your coverage stays in place.

Life insurance is a long-term commitment, so it's important to choose a policy that will fit your needs both now and in the future.

Where to Get Life Insurance Policy for Couples

Couples looking for a life insurance policy can get life insurance from reliable local or national insurance companies that offer joint policies. Online insurance marketplaces and comparison websites are valuable resources, allowing you to compare multiple insurers' life insurance rates and coverages simultaneously. This makes it easier to find the best life insurance for married couples that aligns with your financial goals and coverage requirements.

Another option is to hire an independent insurance agent or broker who can guide you to the best policies based on their expertise and understanding of your needs. Additionally, some employers offer life insurance as part of their benefits package. Regardless of the avenue you choose, remember to assess the insurer's financial strength and customer service reputation to make the best decision for you.

FAQ About Couples Life Insurance

MoneyGeek answered commonly asked questions about getting life insurance for couples to help you learn more about the process.

What is a joint life insurance policy?
Why should couples get life insurance?
What is the best life insurance for couples?
Where can you get couples life insurance?
How can couples save on life insurance?
What type of life policy covers two lives and pays the face amount after the first one dies?
At what point are death proceeds paid in a joint life insurance policy?

About Melissa Wylie

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Melissa Wylie is the Content and SEO Manager at MoneyGeek, with nearly a decade of editorial experience and six years of work in financial content focused on small businesses. She previously held SEO positions at Bankrate and LendingTree, with bylines on ValuePenguin and MagnifyMoney.

Wylie has a journalism degree from the University of North Texas. Her strong foundation in journalism helps her craft content that simplifies complex financial topics to help everyone feel confident when making decisions with their money.