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Joint life insurance explained

If you’re looking for a life insurance policy for couples, you may wonder about the benefits of joint life insurance. This guide can help you pick the best option.

What is joint life insurance and how does it work?

Joint life insurance is a type of life policy that covers two people, such as a couple, under one single policy with one monthly premium.   
It’s sometimes referred to as life insurance for couples, but you don’t need to be in a relationship to apply for policy. For example, if you and your partner have a joint mortgage or share financial responsibility, joint life insurance could be for you.

Joint life insurance is different from single life insurance. A single policy pays out to beneficiaries, such as your children, in the event of death. Joint life insurance pays out to the surviving partner should the other die.  

The payout varies from policy to policy. So, it’s important to consider the level of cover you want before purchasing a joint life insurance policy.    

It’s also important to note that when the first partner dies, the surviving partner will no longer be covered. So, if they want to continue to have a life cover, they will need to take out a new insurance policy, like a life insurance policy or income protection.  

What is best for them will depend on their situation. Whether they have children or a mortgage to pay off can impact what type of insurance they choose.

Do you need to be married for joint life insurance? 

No, joint life insurance isn’t exclusively for married couples. It can be a range of partnerships, including business ones. It’s common for policies to cover people living in the same household. But it’s best to research the terms and conditions of the policy before you buy.  

If you are married and separate during the cover’s term, there are a few options on what to do with your policy. Check our guide on life insurance and divorce for more information.

What are the benefits of a joint life insurance policy?

Joint life insurance offers several benefits for couples or partners who are looking for this type of policy. Here are some key features: 

  • Joint life insurance provides a payout to the surviving partner when one partner dies. This payout can help manage financial commitments such as mortgages or debts.
  • Joint policy can be a cheaper option for couples, as they are often more affordable than two separate single life insurance policies.
  • With a joint policy, you pay only one monthly premium. This can be more convenient and needs less paperwork than managing two separate policies.
  • Joint life insurance typically pays out equally, regardless of income differences between partners. 
  • The claiming process on joint policy is more simple. This means quicker payouts to the surviving partner.

Is joint life insurance worth it?  

When deciding between single and joint life insurance, there are some things to consider. 

For example, if your partner is the only person who depends on you financially, then a joint policy could make sense. But if you have children, taking out two single policies to ensure a surviving partner remains covered could be a better option. Also, a single life insurance policy offers more flexibility on who your beneficiary can be.  

The benefit of having a joint life insurance policy is that the payout will go to the surviving partner regardless of who dies first. But, this also means that if the surviving partner decides to buy a new individual policy after the death of the partner, the cost could be much higher.

Is joint life insurance cheaper than two single life policies?

A joint policy is generally cheaper than taking out two separate policies for the same level of cover. If you’re on a tight budget, a joint policy may be more affordable. 

But don’t let this be the driving force behind your decision. Think about whether the surviving partner would need to take out individual cover later in life. While a joint policy may be cheaper than two single policies, taking out an individual policy later in life could actually be more expensive.

What is a first-to-die life insurance policy? 

A "first-to-die" or "first-death" policy is a type of joint life insurance that covers two people. But, the payout is made only once, after the first policyholder dies. 
This type of policy is often used by married couples or business partners to replace lost income or pay off debts such as mortgages. 

It's important to remember that the surviving partner won't remain covered once the first policyholder dies. They would then need to take out another policy, such as whole of life or term life insurance.

Can I put a joint life insurance policy in trust?

Yes, you can put a joint life insurance policy in trust. By doing so, the policy will not be considered part of your estate. This means that the beneficiaries will receive the payout without having to go through the probate process. They may not need to pay any inheritance tax.

For married couples and civil partnerships, assets are passed on to partners upon death. So trust may be of lesser importance as they don't need to pay inheritance tax. 
This is more the case for unmarried couples and business partners. If your estate is worth over £325,000, your beneficiaries will need to pay inheritance tax upon payout. In that case, placing a joint policy in a trust might be a good idea.


Find out more about Vitality joint life insurance.
Or get a personalised Vitality life insurance quote by filling out our online form. It's quick, easy and tailored to your needs.

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