Single vs joint policies: which is right for you?

By Vicki Coleman

Thanks to car insurance, we’re used to the concept of having two people named and covered on the same insurance policy. But did you know that you can also get joint life insurance?

Unlike car insurance, where you can’t have two joint policyholders (instead, you have a main policyholder and named drivers), joint life insurance gives equal billing to both parties.

Ultimately, that means it doesn’t matter who dies first, the policy will provide the same payout. But are you still better off taking out two single policies instead?

Do you both need life insurance?

If you’re a young and healthy couple, you might be wondering if you need to think about life insurance just yet.

We’re not out to persuade you one way or another. But it’s something you do need to give some thought to, as death is an unfortunate fact of life and it’s not always possible to predict when your time is up.

If you get ‘ahead of the game’ and buy your life insurance policy when your risk of dying is low (in the eyes of insurers), you can lock in low premiums for life.

You could either go for life insurance cover for a set period of time – 20 years, for example, or for the duration of your mortgage – or you could opt for a whole of life policy, which does what it says on the tin.

Whichever type of life insurance you choose, the premiums will be based on factors like your age, health, lifestyle, and level of cover. You will be asked about these by one of our experts when you pick up the phone to us.

When you become a parent and/or a homeowner, you have newfound responsibilities, you can learn more about life insurance at key events in your life in this article.

But before you decide which life insurance product is right for you, you need to weigh up the pros of single vs joint life insurance.

What is single life insurance?

Single life insurance pays a lump sum to the nominated beneficiaries if the policyholder dies during the policy term.

So, if you’re part of a couple and you both take out single life insurance cover, each policy would pay out separately on the death of the policyholder.

Single life insurance provides an element of flexibility that joint insurance doesn’t. For example, if you’re the main breadwinner in your couple, you might want to select a higher amount on your policy than on your partner’s.

Yes, that will ultimately mean you get a lower payout in the event of your partner’s death than your partner would if you died – but that’s because you’re less dependant on your partner’s income.

Before setting the payout amount, you should also take into account what your dependents may need the money for.

The other obvious thing that single life insurance has over joint insurance is that it’s one less thing to have to think about should you split from your partner. You can both just continue with your individual policies.

Things to remember about single insurance:

  • You can tailor both policies for the individual’s needs and circumstances
  • Two single policies will pay out separately for both policyholders
  • You can’t combine the premiums
  • Both you and your partner will need to apply separately
  • If you separate, your policy will remain in place

What is joint life insurance?

First things first, you don’t need to be married to apply for a joint life insurance policy. In the same breath, you’re not going to get a joint policy if you’re a relatively new couple.

In fact, you know you’re a serious couple when you start to discuss life insurance. It’s not exactly the stuff of rom-coms, is it?

But, it’s an important thing to talk about these tough subjects, as life does indeed go on after death and it’s important that loved ones are looked after financially.

A joint policy can make a lot of financial sense as it’s usually cheaper than two single policies. But that’s because it'll pay out only once, usually after the first partner dies.

Once the policy has paid out, it automatically expires, leaving the surviving partner uninsured.

If you have children, you’ll need to take out a new policy once your partner dies if you want to ensure that they are going to be left with a lump sum should you then pass away.

However, if you're older, it can be costly to get a new policy – particularly if you've developed any medical conditions, all of which will need to be made aware to the insurer.

With joint life insurance, partners must be insured for the same amount, so the payout is the same whoever dies.

Things to remember:

  • The premiums for a joint policy are often cheaper than two single policies
  • Payout amount is the same regardless of who dies first
  • Joint life insurance is available for unmarried couples
  • The policy will automatically end after the payout
  • Can be difficult to split the policy in the event of a separation

What is the right option for you?

Only you can really answer this. But if you’re in a couple, you have to at least consider a joint policy even if it’s just for the sake of ease.

Life insurance is a lot more straightforward than people think it is. It’s also relatively cheap for what it is, with payouts often well into the tens of thousands even for the most basic cover.

Whether you want basic cover or a more comprehensive life insurance policy, our experts are on hand to point you in the right direction and provide you with personalised quotes that match your needs.

Our team are just on the other end of the phone if you need us – why not call us during your lunch break or at another convenient time to discuss your options?

If you're not sure if life insurance is for you, we've also covered the top 3 alternatives to life insurance.

To compare your free life insurance quotes from leading providers, click here.