Life insurance

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What is life insurance?

Life insurance pays out a lump sum to your loved ones if you pass away while your policy’s in place.

It can cover any outstanding financial commitments you have - like your mortgage or loan repayments - so your family won’t be left with payments they can’t afford after you’re gone.

Do I need it?

Life insurance can provide the reassurance you need that your dependents will be looked after. Think about who you’ll leave behind and if they can cope without your income.

  • Could your partner pay the mortgage without your income? Life insurance could help your loved ones stay in the family home.
  • Funerals can cost thousands. Save them the expense with a policy that’ll pay out for yours.
  • No one wants to think about their kids growing up, going to university or buying their first home without them there to help. But if something were to happen to you, life insurance could give them a more secure financial future.
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Types of life insurance

There are three main types of life insurance – choose the one that’s appropriate for you and your dependants.

Level term life insurance
Decreasing term life insurance
Critical illness cover

The simplest type – you decide the pay-out value and duration of the policy at the outset.

If you die within the term of the policy, your dependants will receive the pay-out as a fixed sum. The amount paid out stays the same regardless of when a claim is made.

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Key points

  • You need to decide the pay-out amount and duration of your policy
  • The policy will only pay-out during the term period you choose
  • Your dependents will be paid a fixed sum
  • The pay-out amount stays the same throughout your policy

Also known as mortgage life insurance, it’s designed to cover debts that decrease over time - like your mortgage.

The amount paid out by the policy reduces with time – so if you were to die near the start of the policy term your dependents would receive more than near the end, when there’s less mortgage to pay off.

This can be a cheaper life insurance option than level term. But if your circumstances change, and you increase your borrowing, you might find the amount isn’t enough.

Key points

  • The amount the policy pays out decreases over time
  • It's designed to cover debts, like your mortgage
  • It can be a more affordable option than level term insurance

Whether you take out critical illness cover with life insurance or on its own, this type of protection can help you financially if you’re diagnosed with a serious illness.

You’ll be insured for a fixed amount which will be paid to you monthly or in a lump sum which allows you to pay off any outstanding debts you have.

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Key points

  • Can pay a monthly or fixed sum if you’re diagnosed with a critical illness
  • Sometimes its part of life insurance cover
  • You can also take our critical illness cover separately
  • You’ll be paid a fixed sum to cover any debts

The cost of life insurance

Looking after your loved ones could cost less than you think – policies are available from just £5/month.[2]

Premium costs will depend on your circumstances, so they’re likely to be cheaper for someone in their twenties in good health, than for a smoker in their forties who has suffered previous health problems.

The best way to find a competitive rate is to compare policies, so you get the right cover at the right price.

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How much cover do you need and how long for?

Deciding how much cover to get and how long to make the policy last for can be difficult decisions. We’ve put together some pointers to help. When you get a quote with us there’s a calculator to help you work all this out.

  1. The term you choose depends on your reasons for taking out the policy. If you want to make sure the mortgage gets paid, get cover for at least as long as the remaining mortgage term. If you want to see your children through university, make sure your cover extends to the year your youngest will graduate.

  2. You’ll have to decide whether to take out level term or decreasing term cover to work out how much you’ll pay in premiums. The higher the amount of cover, the more your premiums will cost.

  3. Make sure it’s enough to cover what you need it to - do you want to pay for your mortgage, funeral, childcare or bills? Do you have any other outstanding debts?

  4. Remember, the sum you choose at the outset might be worth less in real terms in a few decades’ time due to inflation.

Use our calculator to choose your life insurance cover

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More types of life insurance

Premiums are largely based on your personal circumstances, so you can get a policy tailored to you.

Find out more about how to choose the right life insurance policy for you.

Over-50s life insurance

If you’re aged between 50 and 79, you can get a whole of life policy without the need for medical assessments. You’ll stop paying premiums when you reach 85 or 90. There’s usually a short qualifying period at the start of the term.

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Joint life insurance for couples

If you’re in a relationship, you could take out a policy that pays out in the event of either of you dying. It can be a cheaper option than holding two policies. But it will only pay out on the first death, after which the cover will end.

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Life insurance for new parents

When you’ve got a little one on the way, thinking about the future is inevitable. If you were to pass away, life insurance could cover childcare costs as well as the mortgage, so your partner won’t have to worry about paying out large sums of money.

Find out more >

With pre-existing medical conditions

A pre-existing medical condition can mean fewer life insurance providers to choose from. You might also have to pay a higher premium to have your condition included on your policy. Alternatively, you can choose to exclude your existing illness from your cover altogether but the policy won’t pay out if you die as a result of the excluded condition.

Find out more >

Things changeLife doesn’t stand still and neither should your life insurance cover.

If your circumstances change, you might need to review your policy.

If you can’t get competitive options with your existing provider, consider switching, or buying an additional policy.

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Find out more about life insurance:

Frequently asked questions

  • Can I hold multiple life insurance policies?

    It's possible to hold multiple life insurance policies and in some cases this might be worth considering. If, for example, you have an existing policy but need more cover, the most cost-effective way might be taking out an additional policy.

  • Is life assurance the same as life insurance?

    Technically no, but the two terms are often used to mean the same thing. Strictly speaking, life insurance pays out if something happens to you, whereas life assurance pays out when it does. So level term cover is life insurance, whereas a whole-of-life-policy is life assurance.

  • What's mortgage life insurance?

    It’s no different to a standard life insurance policy, it's just tailored specifically to clear any remaining mortgage debt after the policyholder's death. It’s usually a decreasing-term policy to reflect the reducing balance of your mortgage over time. Find out more in our guide.

  • Do I also need income protection?

    This is dependent on your circumstances, but the right income protection (IP) policy can be valuable as a stand-alone product or as an addition to life insurance/critical illness cover. Life insurance won’t cover you if you cannot work due to illness or disability. Some IP policies include an element of death cover.

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