❤ Life insurance
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*Based on £100,000 of level term cover over 20 years for a 30 year old non smoker with no pre-existing medical conditions (November '20)
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What is life insurance?
Life insurance is a policy that pays out if you die during the cover term. It’s used to ensure something is left behind for loved ones in the event of the policy holder’s death. It can help with paying off a mortgage, covering funeral costs or just maintaining a family’s standard of living in the event of a bereavement.
Aside from standard life insurance, also called level term life insurance, there’re a few types of life insurance to choose from, each with their own benefits. If you're looking for policies to help out if you fall sick or are unable to work, there's something for you there, too:
Life insurance costs vary, but can start from as little as £3.79 per month.
However, bear in mind that this is the minimum you can expect to pay, as premiums are based on a range of factors. The average cost of a policy is likely to be slightly higher.
We’ve set out the average costs of life insurance below. This is what most customers in each age bracket pay.
|Age||Average monthly premium*|
*Prices from Confused.com data, averaged across sales of all policy types and lengths for cover of less than or equal to £350,000 in 2020. This contains 84% of customers and is correct as of October 2020.
There are a few things that can affect how much life insurance costs.
These typically include:
Your age: the older you are, the more you’re likely to pay
Lifestyle: drinking, smoking, including vaping and use of nicotine replacements, and other risky behaviours can all edge up your premiums
Weight: if you’re very overweight, the likelihood of developing an obesity-related illness increases, and so does your premium cost
Medical history: pre-existing conditions like asthma, or a family history of certain diseases, could also see you paying more
Amount of cover: typically the higher the pay-out you’re looking for, the higher your premiums are likely to be. See our guide for advice on how much life insurance cover you need
Policy length: life insurance policies often run over a set term – say, 25 years. The longer you want the term to be, the more you’re likely to pay out in premiums
Salary: the more you earn, the higher your expenses are likely to be. Which means you’ll need more cover to maintain your family’s standard of living. More cover equals a higher premium
Occupation: if you’re a fireman or an oil rig worker, or have another high-risk job, your premiums will probably be higher than those with low risk jobs such as an office worker or milk man
For a deeper dive into how your life insurance premiums are calculated– and what that means for you – check out our guide.
Almost all life insurance policies will cover death due to an accident or illness developed during the policy term. As long as you keep up with your premiums, you should be covered.
But there are a few instances where life insurance may not cover you.
These could include:
- If you die due to drug or alcohol misuse
- If your death is a result of war or terrorism
- Suicide, or death from self-inflicted injuries
- Death by gross negligence or a reckless act
Drug and alcohol misuse will almost never be covered. But some of the above areas may be – depending on your provider. If you have any concerns, it’s always worth checking before you take out a policy. Or read our guide on life insurance exclusions for an overview of what isn’t covered.
If you have dependents that are fully, or even partially, dependent on your income, you may need life insurance.
Policies are usually taken out to ensure loved ones are financially secure in the event of the policy holder’s death. If you’re concerned that your family may struggle without your income, life insurance is probably a good idea.
It’s especially useful if:
- You’re the main earner: a pay-out could help maintain your family’s standard of living after you’re gone. Even if you’re not the main earner, think about whether your partner would struggle without your additional income
- You have a joint mortgage: your pay-out could be used to make sure your partner isn’t left struggling to meet mortgage payments if you pass away
- You have outstanding debts: a life insurance pay-out could help cover these, preventing them being passed on to your family
- You want to pass something on: life insurance could be used as inheritance, ensuring you leave something behind after you pass away
If you’re single, with no dependents and don’t wish to pass something on after you die, then you may not need life insurance. But that said, there’re still benefits to be had from single person’s life insurance. Check out our guide to learn more.
Ultimately, whether you need life insurance is up to you. But it’s worth thinking about whether your family will be able to keep up with the bills after you’re gone.
Death in service benefit is essentially life insurance provided by your company. If you die while still in their employment, your loved ones get a pay-out.
Although it works in much the same way as life insurance, it typically only pays out around 3 to 4 times your annual salary. A dedicated life insurance policy will usually pay out around 10 times your annual salary, making it the better option if your loved ones depend on your income.
If you think 3 to 4 times your salary is enough to support your family after you’re gone, death in service benefit may be all you need. But if you think they may need longer-term support, a dedicated life insurance policy is probably a better bet.
For a deeper look at death in service benefit, take a look at our guide.
If the total value of your ‘estate’, i.e what you pass on after you die, is less than £325,000, you don’t have to pay inheritance tax. On anything above £325,000, you pay 40% tax.
Life insurance pay-outs contribute to your estate, and therefore are taxable – but only if your total estate exceeds the threshold.
This can be avoided if you write your policy in trust. Here, your beneficiaries would get the entire pay-out tax-free.
For a look at the pros and cons of writing your life insurance policy in trust, as well as how to do it, check out our guide.
Have more questions? Our FAQs can help
How long you need life insurance cover for depends on your age, your mortgage commitments and how much you’re willing to pay in premiums. Some policies will offer whole of life cover, which insures you until you die.
Others will cover you for a set term. Mortgage life insurance, for example, will usually only cover you for the length of your mortgage.
In the end, it depends on your personal circumstances. Try our life insurance calculator below for a better idea of how long you'll need cover for.
Figuring out how much cover you need depends on what you want your pay-out to do.
Do you need your pay-out to cover your mortgage? How much would your loved ones need to live on after you’re gone? Do you have debts that need clearing?
For a real idea of how much cover to get, see our guide on how much life insurance do I need.
Life insurance and life assurance are both policies that pay out if you die during the cover term. The main difference is that life assurance, also called whole of life cover, covers you from the day you take out a policy until the day you die. Life insurance usually only covers you for a set period – say 25 years.
There’s benefits to each. Try our guide for a deeper look at how life insurance works.
If you have a pre-existing medical condition like diabetes, getting life insurance may be more difficult – but it’s not impossible. Most insurers will still cover you, but you may have to pay more in premiums.
Some conditions are excluded, such as terminal cancer and other high-risk illnesses, but cover varies from provider to provider.
Use our get a quote process to compare quotes and see if you’re eligible. Or check out our guide to see how your medical history can affect your premiums.
In most cases, yes. But it’s not a decision that should be taken lightly, and could spike your premiums if you decide take out any future policies further down the line.
For tips on how to cancel your life insurance policy, and the things to look out for, see our guide.
There’s no minimum age for being covered by life insurance. If you’ are under 18, however, a parent or legal guardian will need to take out the cover on your behalf.
Most people take out life insurance when they start a family or buy a house. According to our data, the average age for taking out a policy is 39**. This makes sense, as life insurance is particularly useful if you want to ensure your dependents are financially protected if you pass away.
You should be able to find life insurance to cover you up until your 90s, so age isn't the only determining factor in a life policy. But the earlier you get it, the cheaper your premiums are likely to be.
As with most things, it depends on your personal circumstances. But if you have dependents that rely on your income, taking out a life insurance policy as soon as possible may be your best option.
**(Based on Confused.com data from September 2019, the average age for a person taking out a level term assurance policy is 38.6.)