A lot of responsibility rests on your shoulders as a single parent. If the worst happens, you’d want to know your children would be provided for until they could look after themselves. That’s why having life insurance can be so reassuring. It can cover things like essential guardianship costs, education, and other lifestyle costs for your children. It could also cover any debts you may have, so your children wouldn’t be liable.

In short, if you have children who rely on you financially – technically known as ‘financial dependents’ – then you should consider getting life insurance in place. This guide to life insurance for single parents can help you unpick the basics.

What is life insurance?

Life insurance is a policy that pays out a tax-free lump sum to a person of your choice if you die. For single parents, it provides your family or chosen guardian with the extra funds they’d need to support your children in the absence of you and your income.

How does life insurance work?

As with any insurance policy, you pay a monthly premium to be insured; then a lump sum of money is paid out if you die. Term life insurance is the most common type of policy. It covers you for an agreed amount of time (your policy 'term') and pays out if you die within that time.

Term life policies can either be decreasing or level. In a decreasing term life policy, the lump sum payout gradually decreases over time (so the later you die, the less it pays out); in a level term life policy, the lump sum payout always stays the same, whenever you die. For a single parent, you might choose decreasing if you think your children's financial dependency on you will decrease as they get older; or you might choose level if you want to make sure they'll receive the same amount of money, regardless of when it is. It depends on what the money would be needed for in your particular set of circumstances.

Read more about the ins-and-outs of life insurance in our complete guide.

Why is life insurance important for single parents?

Because children are financially reliant on their parents – and as a single parent, you may be the main or only provider for your children. Without you, their way of life may be significantly impacted.

If the worst happens and you die, life insurance is a way of supporting your children financially until they reach an age where they can support themselves. It could cover the costs of guardianship, day-to-day essentials like keeping a roof over their heads, food and bills – and you might even want to make sure things like university or private school fees are covered too. For extra peace of mind, life insurance can also cover things like hobbies and holidays, so you know your children’s lifestyle wouldn't need to change.

What's the value in having life insurance?

For single parents, it's pure peace of mind that your children would continue to be provided for if you die. Not having that peace of mind can be unsettling, especially if you’re the only breadwinner in your household. The idea that your children could be left without financial support doesn't bear thinking about – but life insurance means you've got a solid plan in place.

When's the best time to buy life insurance?

When it comes to life insurance – the sooner, the better. Because the younger and healthier you are, the cheaper it is. The older you are, the more likely you are to die, and therefore the greater risk you pose to the insurer in terms of having to pay the policy out.

It’s also a good idea to get cover in place as soon as you become a parent. You can always revisit the level of cover you have if you have more children in the future, or your situation changes. Especially as more children means greater financial liabilities.

Got kids? Protect their future with life insurance. Let's start with your age:
  • Children are (naturally) financially dependent on their parents
  • If you’re the only breadwinner in your household and you die, your children could be left without financial support
  • Life insurance is a way of protecting their future and ensuring they’re financially provided for until they reach an age where they can look after themselves
  • For single parents, life insurance provides true peace of mind that your children will never be without financial support
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.