Most people don’t think about getting life insurance until big ‘milestones’ like buying a house or having children. But actually, buying life insurance as a couple, whether or not you have a mortgage or are married, can be a smart move. Especially if your financial liabilities have the potential to change.

Partners tend to rely on each other financially, with shared plans for the future, shared financial commitments, or shared debt. If you’ve got a partner, life insurance is a really good way of protecting their financial future in case you die. It means that if the worst did happen, they'd be able to cope financially and keep up with the everyday expenses of your current lifestyle, and the future lifestyle you've planned together.

It’s not the jolliest of topics – and that’s why it gets pushed to the bottom of most people’s to-do lists. But this guide to life insurance for couples can help you unpick the basics.

What is life insurance?

Life insurance is an insurance policy that pays out a tax-free lump sum to your partner if you die. If you’re in a couple, you’re likely to have a lot of shared financial interests. If one of you were to die, the other might struggle financially without your income. They might have to significantly change their lifestyle. Life insurance means your loved one would have a financial safety net if the worst happens.

How does life insurance work?

It’s simply an insurance policy that pays out a lump sum of money to your chosen beneficiary if you die. If you're in a couple, this will most likely be your partner. If you buy a term life policy, you agree to pay a monthly premium for the duration of your policy term in return for the lump sum, paid out if you die during that term. Read more in our guide to how life insurance works.

Why is life insurance important for couples?

Because one partner dying can have a financial impact on the other. Life insurance is usually taken out to support your partner’s financial needs after you die. People use it to pay off any shared debts, like a mortgage or car finance, or to pay for funeral expenses. On top of that, it's also a way of ensuring your loved one has the money to do essential things like keep a roof over their head and carry on paying for food and bills without a second income.

Depending on your financial circumstances as a couple, you might take out a single life insurance policy to protect your partner, or you could consider taking out a joint life insurance policy. That way you'd both be protected in the event that the other dies. You can read more in our guide to different types of life insurance.

What's the value in having life insurance?

Your death will always be difficult for your partner. But during this time of emotional stress, life insurance can at least help reduce the financial burden. Life insurance is designed to make sure your partner would be financially secure if you and your income were no longer here.

If you have a partner who relies on you financially in some way, life insurance is a simple, logical way to protect their financial future. What's more, it's often money that's straightforward to claim if and when you do die – which can't always be said for other savings or assets you might leave behind.

When's the best time to buy it?

Generally speaking, the younger and healthier you are, the cheaper life insurance is. Most people don't think about buying cover until something triggers the needs for it – like buying a house, getting married, or becoming a parent. These are all sensible reasons for buying cover, but if you're in a couple, the question is simply whether or not your partner would be financially affected by you dying. If the answer is yes, then it's a case of the sooner, the better.

Protect your partner's future with life insurance. To start, how old are you?
  • Couples often have shared financial commitments
  • If you die, it can affect your partner financially
  • Life insurance protects your partner's financial future – enabling them to clear shared debt, cover living expenses, and maintain their lifestyle if you die
  • Couples can also consider joint life insurance, so both partners are protected if the other dies (though remember: cover ends after the first death)
What is life insurance?
An insurance policy that pays out a tax-free lump sum to your partner or family if you die. It’s designed to make sure your loved ones would be financially secure without you and your income.
Who needs life insurance?
Anyone who has financial dependents. In other words: other people who rely on your income. If you have a partner or children who’d be financially affected by you dying, you should consider having some life insurance in place.
How much does life insurance cost?
Life insurance is often very affordable, but the cost differs per person. This is because it depends on the cover you buy and how much of a risk you are to insure (based on your age, health and lifestyle). It’s cheapest when you’re young, fit and healthy.
Does life insurance always pay out?
Life insurance will pay out if you die while you’re insured and you were honest about your health when you applied. It won’t pay out if you die after your policy runs out or you cancel your policy – and might not if you meet an exclusion (e.g. many insurers exclude death by suicide within the first year of taking out the policy).
Is it easy to claim?
Claiming on a life insurance policy is straightforward – your partner or family simply claim directly with your insurance company. Making sure they know about your policy and have the details in case the worst happens can be helpful.