Why should couples have joint life insurance?

quick Facts

  • You don’t need to be married to qualify for a joint life insurance policy; This is an option for couples, whether they are married or not
  • First-time life insurance provides coverage for a surviving spouse upon the death of one, and is often used by younger families to replace income.
  • Life insurance is a commonly used option for estate planning, as it is only paid out after the death of the second surviving spouse

As a newlywed or someone planning to get married, it’s only natural that you might ask yourself if you should add your significant other to your insurance. Perhaps you’re in a committed partnership and are now considering newlyweds’ life insurance as the next step for the future you’re planning together.

The answer to the question “Why should spouses have joint life insurance?” Tougher than answering whether couples should combine other types of insurance. Chances are, you may have already added a significant other to your auto or renters insurance without hesitation. You live together and share vehicles from time to time — it just makes sense.

If you bought a home together, you purchased homeowners insurance in both of your names. However, life insurance can be less obvious and less exciting to talk about than buying a new home or car.

Exploring the topic of joint life insurance can raise many questions and doubts. If you’re wondering whether you should have a joint life insurance policy or if you qualify, understanding a few basics will make this endeavor less daunting.

What is a joint life insurance policy?

Combined life insurance covers two people under the same policy. This type of coverage is also known as spousal life insurance. In general, a joint life insurance policy takes care of the needs of the surviving spouse or dependent after the death of one or both partners.

It is important to note that while two people have joint coverage under one policy, the life insurance death benefit is paid only once. How coinsurance pays for life depends on the type of policy you choose.

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What are the two types of joint life insurance policies?

life insurance It is not a one-size-fits-all method for achieving financial protection. However, you and your spouse are unique, and joint life insurance policies should make sense to you.

Joint life insurance consists of two main types: first life insurance and second life insurance.

The first life insurance of its kind

With first-time life insurance, the full benefit is paid to the surviving beneficiary after the death of a partner. This version of joint life insurance helps replace income and maintain an equivalent or similar standard of living.

The downside to this type of payment is that the life insurance policy disappears once the benefits are paid. The remaining spouse must apply for the coverage to keep the life insurance protection on themselves. Life insurance costs increase with age, which is a potential downside to a joint policy if the policy is paid out later in life.

Life insurance for the second time

Secondary life insurance is also known as life insurance and is paid out only upon the death of the second person. Because this type of life insurance policy does not provide for a surviving spouse, people often use it for estate planning, and the amount goes to the beneficiaries chosen by the spouses.

Possible financial concerns that second-tier life insurance can address include:

  • Estate and inheritance taxes
  • Income generating assets for the surviving children
  • A means of distributing the estate equally among the heirs
  • Current expenses for adult children with special needs

Unlike first class life insurance, second class life insurance pays to the beneficiary or beneficiaries chosen by both insured partners. Neither partner is considered a beneficiary in the second person’s policy.

Common reasons to get joint insurance

If you didn’t want life insurance before you got married or when you started your partnership, you may now consider the practical reasons for having a joint life policy.

If you weren’t interested in the idea of ​​life insurance before marriage, or at the beginning of your partnership, you might now consider the practical reasons for having a joint life policy.

The main advantage of spouses life insurance is access to funds that you otherwise would not have had if the worst case scenario had occurred. People can use the money for various needs, such as paying off a mortgage or debt, dealing with final expenses, and managing new and existing expenses.

Pay off the mortgage

A mortgage is one of the largest ongoing expenses that partners share. Will the mortgage be paid off if you or your partner die suddenly?

One of the advantages of life insurance for couples is ensuring that funds are available for these scenarios. A level term policy is usually the most cost effective way of securing a large amount of coverage for a set period. You can set up a joint life insurance policy to cover your home loan for a set number of years.

Several companies offer a specific mortgage payment policy, called mortgage life insurance or mortgage protection insurance (MPI)—another way to explore spousal joint coverage.

Processing final expenses

One of the most basic reasons for purchasing life insurance is early preparation for final expenses.

If you are currently receiving life insurance benefits through employment, you may not have considered a joint life insurance policy.

Employer-provided life insurance is a great, low-cost or no-cost way to maintain life insurance coverage for certain periods of your life. For one person, life insurance offered by the company is often sufficient. However, as an adult in a marriage or domestic partnership, controlling your policy becomes even more important.

Consider this: Every time you change jobs, life insurance starts over, which means the amount, term length, price, and other factors can change. Plus, life insurance rates are primarily based on age and health, which means the earlier you choose the long-term coverage you need, the better.

It’s not glamorous, but the ultimate expense is one of the reasons couples take out life insurance. The last thing you want to worry about is money or your life insurance coverage expiring when you just lost your partner.

Check out this life insurance calculator to help estimate your family’s expenses in the event of an unexpected death.

Managing living expenses

Combining life as a married couple often leads to increased expenses. A practical reason to consider joint life insurance is to ensure that your spouse is taken care of financially in the event of an unexpected death. In marriages with only one working spouse, an income compensation plan may be more important if the working spouse is unexpectedly successful. Read more about life insurance for a non-working spouse.

In families with children, childcare costs require consideration. The common assumption is that the stay-at-home parent doesn’t need life insurance because they don’t have income that they need to replace. While the stay-at-home parent does not contribute to the income, it does eliminate the need for child care, which would become an additional expense without them filling the role.

If your children’s caretaker unexpectedly succeeds, first-time combined life insurance can provide financial solutions. In addition, the ability to choose exceptional childcare providers is an option that combined life insurance provides you.

Conversely, the surviving spouse may need time to enter into the role of financial provider if the primary breadwinner dies while your children are young. It is essential to ensure that your children and all other living expenses are taken care of during this time.

The pros and cons of joint life insurance

Life insurance for couples is important, but combined life insurance may or may not solve your unique needs. Take a look at the pros and cons of joint life insurance below:


Combined life insurance deals with the unique financial needs of couples. A joint policy can be more cost effective than individual policies and may be a good solution for those who do not qualify for life insurance on their own.

Affordability is almost always a factor in making insurance decisions. However, the bottom line with regards to joint life insurance is that a joint life insurance policy is better than no life insurance policy.


A joint policy does not cover both persons separately, leaving the remaining partner uninsured after the policy is paid out. Additionally, there is a limitation that both partners are covered in one policy that they can only access once. Rehabilitating life insurance individually later in life is often more difficult and expensive.

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Is joint life insurance available for couples in a domestic partnership?

Domestic partners can take out joint life insurance.

The prerequisite for applying for joint life insurance is a joint financial interest, such as joint debt or assets. Simply put, life insurance companies want to know your financial impact in the event of your domestic partner’s death.

If you have joint investments or financial responsibilities, joint life insurance may be a good option for you.

Final thoughts on combined life insurance

Couples who want to cover both partners under one policy use joint life insurance policies. They can also use joint life policies to reduce insurance costs or protect against estate and inheritance taxes once both partners die.

Buying joint life insurance provides financial reserves to pay off the mortgage, replace partner income, and take care of ongoing expenses and debt. In addition, joint living policies protect spouses and their families from financial hardship in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a joint life insurance policy and term life insurance?

Combined life insurance, considered by many to be a first-to-die policy, is paid out when one of the two insured partners dies. A term life insurance policy, on the other hand, is paid out only after the death of both the insured partners.

Is taking out joint life insurance policies better than separate life insurance policies?

Combined life insurance makes sense for some couples, but not all. A joint life insurance policy may be sufficient to meet the needs of the surviving spouse and children.

If you have young children you want to raise, you might consider separate life insurance policies for each partner, so both parents have active life insurance until the children are older.

Why should you consider a joint life policy?

Joint life policies can be more cost effective than individual policies, making them a good choice for many couples.

You care about your partner and the life you’ve created together. A joint living policy protects your future family and maintains the lifestyle and goals you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

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Editorial Tips: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about life insurance. Our goal is to be an objective third party source for all things life insurance. We update our website regularly, and all content is reviewed by life insurance experts.

Rachel Brennan has been in the insurance industry since 2006 when she started working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she held her property and casualty license in all 50 states. Several years later, she expanded her expertise in the insurance field, earning a license in health insurance and AD&D insurance as well. I worked for a small health in…

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Rachel Brennan
Licensed insurance agent
Rachel Brennan

Benjamin Carr has worked as a licensed insurance agent at State Farm and Tennant Special Risk. He sold various lines of coverage and advised his clients about their life, health, and property/accident insurance needs. Assessing risk and helping people find the best coverage for their needs is his passion. He appreciates that insurance is designed to protect people, especially in times of…

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Benjamin Carr

Former state farm insurance agent

Benjamin Carr

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