Joint life insurance

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What is joint life insurance?

Life insurance provides a cash lump sum to your loved ones if you die, giving them some financial support should the worst happen.

A joint life insurance policy covers two people at the same time and is designed for couples.

If one of you dies during the policy term, the other will receive a payout that can help with things like the mortgage and ongoing living costs.

Taking out joint cover is worth considering if you’re married or live with your partner, especially if you have children.

How does joint life insurance work?

Joint life insurance covers two people on the same policy until the policy expires or one person passes away. It’s also usually cheaper than taking out two single policies.

When you take out joint life insurance, you’ll only need to complete one application as a couple and pay one regular monthly premium.

There are two main types of joint life insurance you can choose from.

First-death policies

This is the most common type of joint cover. A first-death policy will provide the agreed lump sum if the first partner dies during the policy term, so it will only pay out once.

Once this happens, the policy will automatically end. The surviving partner will need to take out a new policy if they still want to be insured.

If both of you die at the same time during your joint term, the policy would still only pay one lump sum which will go to your beneficiaries.

Second-death policies

A second-death policy will only pay out after both policyholders have passed away - providing one single lump sum, which will go to your beneficiaries.

Normally used for joint whole of life policies, this cover tends to be used for inheritance tax purposes, rather than providing loved ones with financial support once you’ve gone.

We don’t compare second-death policies. But you can compare level term life insurance for two separate applicants. This effectively means having two policies with the same insurer. So if you both died during the term, both policies would pay out.

What types of joint cover are there?

There are several different types of joint cover to choose from and each one works in a different way. Which policy will suit you best will depend on your needs.

Term life insurance

This type of cover will protect you for a set period, known as the term. So, for example, if the term is 25 years, your policy will only pay out if you or your partner die during this timeframe.

The two main types of joint term cover are level term and decreasing term life insurance.

Level term policies will pay out a fixed lump sum if one of you dies during the policy term.

Decreasing term policies are designed to cover a repayment mortgage. The potential payout reduces over time in line with your mortgage until it reaches zero at the end of the term.

Whole of life

As the name suggests, a whole of life policy will cover you for the rest of your life provided you continue to pay the monthly premiums.

Unlike term insurance, you’re guaranteed a payout whenever your partner dies. Because a payout is certain, this type of cover is usually more expensive.

Family income benefit

This is an alternative to term life insurance. Instead of the life insurance payout being provided as one lump sum, it will be spread out into monthly or annual payments.

This tax-free money will be paid to your loved ones until the end of your policy term. So if you were to die ten years before your policy is due to end, they’d receive ten years of payments that can be used to replace your income during this time.

Critical illness

You can add critical illness cover to a joint life insurance policy to give you and your loved ones extra financial protection.

This will pay out if you’re diagnosed with a serious health condition that’s listed on your policy, this could include illnesses like cancer, a heart attack, or stroke.

Typically, you can only make a claim on a joint critical illness policy once. However, your joint life insurance cover won’t be affected and will carry on as normal.

What could joint life insurance cover?

Life insurance can help to provide your partner or your family with financial support after you’re gone, and the payout could help to cover:

  • Household bills and everyday expenses
  • Mortgage repayments
  • Childcare costs
  • Loan repayments
  • School or university fees
  • Funeral costs

Pros and cons of a joint life policy


Joint life insurance can be cheaper than taking out two single policies, but how much it costs will depend on your circumstances.

The policy will pay out regardless of which of you dies first and is available to unmarried couples. However, if you’re cohabiting you may want to write the policy in trust to help make it tax efficient.

If one of you passes away, joint life insurance can help the surviving partner to support the family and maintain the same lifestyle.


A joint policy will only pay out once and usually leaves the surviving partner without cover. You may still want cover of your own, for example to protect your children, but getting new life insurance when you’re older is likely to cost more.

You don’t get the same level of flexibility as single policies, where you can cover each person for a separate amount - taking into account their income and what they might need.

If you end up separating, it can be difficult to split a joint policy or you may need to cancel the cover and start from scratch with separate policies.

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[1]For comparing quotes online, Go.Compare introduces customers to Reassured which is a trading name of Reassured Ltd who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority no. 616144. Go.Compare's relationship with Reassured Ltd is limited to that of a business partnership, no common ownership or control exist between us.