Single life insurance

What is single policy life insurance?

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Find out how single policy life insurance can help give financial cover for the ones you love.

What is single life insurance?

A single life insurance policy covers an individual, rather than a couple who can be covered by joint life insurance. The chosen amount of cover is paid out if that individual dies within the life insurance term – the length of time the policy is set for.

Single life insurance is the more popular option, chosen for 69% of policies, whereas joint life insurance accounts for 31%. But joint life insurance can often work out cheaper than two separate single policies.

Across all life insurance policies sold on MoneySuperMarket between 2019 and April 2020, a single life insurance policy cost an average £13.04 per month, while a joint policy to cover two people cost £19.84*.

How many single versus joint life insurance policies?

The percentage of life insurance policies sold on MoneySuperMarket between May 2019 and April 2020

How does single life insurance work?

A single life insurance policy will pay-out to your chosen beneficiary if you pass away within the term of the policy. Your beneficiaries would be those that you want to benefit from a pay-out, such as your partner or children. If each member of a couple has their own single life insurance policy, then the surviving partner will still have their own policy.

Under a single life insurance policy, you decide how much of a payout you’d need to cover your financial commitments should you pass away. This would often be enough to cover your mortgage repayments, to clear any outstanding debts and to provide for the ongoing needs of your family.

You’ll then take out a cover amount (the ‘sum insured’), and this would be the amount the insurer would pay. You can choose whether the sum insured stays the same no matter when you claim– level term life insurance – or whether it decreases as you pay off your mortgage – decreasing term life insurance.

Joint life insurance works differently. You’ll both be covered by one policy, but there will only be one pay-out. It is more common for an insurer to offer a first death policy – a pay-out after the first death that occurs - rather than a second death policy, which pays out when both members of a couple have passed away.

What does single life insurance cover?

A single life insurance policy pay-out could help to cover:

  • Mortgage repayments
  • Household bills and day-to-day expenses
  • Any current or future schooling fees
  • Any money you’ve borrowed that you still need to pay back, such as credit card repayments, car loans or hire purchase agreements
  • Any extra money that would help your family with ongoing needs.

The most popular amount of cover to take out is £100,000 on single life insurance across all term lengths

The average amount of cover taken out by customers who bought a single life insurance policy on MoneySuperMarket between May 2019 and April 2020. This includes where critical illness cover has been added to a policy.

How much does single life insurance cost?

Life insurance premiums vary greatly. As you might expect, the younger you are when you take out a policy, the cheaper it is. Under 25s pay the least, on average, at £5.89 a month for single life insurance without critical illness cover – but if you wait until you’re between 55 and 64 to take out a policy, the average cost is £33.89.

Age group

Monthly cost of single life insurance without critical illness cover

Monthly cost of single life insurance with critical illness cover

<25

£5.89

£12.00

25-34

£9.04

£19.06

35-44

£13.35

£28.48

45-54

£21.21

£45.79

55-64

£33.89

£68.68

The average costs above were based on single life insurance policies sold to MoneySuperMarket customers with or without critical illness cover included, with a total cover amount between £100,000 and £200,000 across all term lengths.

Single life insurance and critical illness cover

You can choose to add critical illness cover to your single life insurance policy. This is still cheapest if you take out cover when you’re younger. For under 25s, the average monthly cost of single life insurance with critical illness cover is £12, but then increases to £45.79 for people aged 45 to 54, and £68.68 for people aged 55 or over.

Types of critical illness cover

Most insurers offer the option of taking out critical illness cover either in addition to or combined with your life insurance policy:

  • Additional cover: Life insurance with additional critical illness cover that can pay out more than once, if you get a critical illness and if you pass away
  • Combined cover: Combined policies only pay out once, either if you become critically ill or if you pass away.

Advantages of taking out a single life insurance policy

  • Tailored policies: If you and your partner take out a single policy each, this may be cheaper than a joint policy should one of you have a pre-existing medical condition or other factors that may make your premium more expensive
  • If circumstances change: Should your relationship with your partner end, then your single life insurance policy remains as it did when you were together

Disadvantages of single life insurance

  • Potentially more expensive to cover a couple: Often, but not always, it can be cheaper to take out a joint life insurance policy to cover both partners than each of you taking out a single policy

Single versus joint life insurance?

You might want to weigh up the benefits of single vs joint life insurance. Some examples of when two separate single policies can work better than a joint life policy include when one person in the couple:

These examples can increase the cost of a life insurance policy, which may make the monthly premium for a joint life insurance unaffordable between you. If this happens then it can make more sense to take out two single life insurance policies that reflect your individual cover needs and are affordable for both of you.

Age group

Monthly cost of single life insurance without critical illness cover

Monthly cost of joint life insurance without critical illness cover

<25

£5.89

£11.00

25-34

£9.04

£14.39

35-44

£13.35

£22.29

45-54

£21.21

£34.14

55-64

£33.89

£53.96

The average costs above were based joint life insurance policies sold to MoneySuperMarket customers with or without critical illness cover included as an additional or a combined policy, with a total cover amount between £100,000 and £200,000 across all term lengths.

Should I put my life insurance in trust?

It can be a good idea to put your life insurance in trust. This is typically done for two reasons:

  • To prevent the proceeds of a pay-out from the policy becoming liable to inheritance tax
  • To prevent the proceeds falling within your estate and thus becoming part of the process called probate, which is the distribution of your estate following your death

Do be aware that once a policy is in trust, the legal agreement can’t be revoked. Anyone you name in trust will also have a certain level of control alongside you as legal owners of the policy, so make sure your trustees are people who will protect your interests in the future.

How do I get single life insurance?

Comparing joint life insurance quotes can help you find the right policy for you and your partner. You can use MoneySuperMarket’s life insurance comparison tool to compare life insurance quotes.

Answer a few questions about you, your health and lifestyle and the amount of cover you need. You’ll need to make sure your responses are accurate and honest to make sure your dependants would receive a pay-out if you passed away.

Some prices will be guaranteed and fully underwritten which means you can buy immediately. With some you’ll need to confirm certain details with the insurer.

You can change the cover amount, cover length and cover type to see how this affects the monthly price you pay.

*Data from life insurance policies sold on MoneySuperMarket between May 2019 and April 2020, with no critical illness cover added, across all term lengths with cover worth between £100,000 and £200,000.

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