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Types of life insurance

What are the different types of life insurance?

Rachel Ditchburn
Written by  Rachel Ditchburn
15 min read
Updated: 26 Feb 2024

In this guide, we’ll outline the different types of life insurance available along with the benefits of each so you can decide which one is right for you.

When it comes to safeguarding your family's financial future, life insurance is a cornerstone of prudent planning. However, with the myriad of policies available, selecting the right one can be a daunting task. It's essential to grasp the nuances of each type of life insurance to ensure that your coverage aligns with your needs and expectations.

While MoneySuperMarket does not offer whole life insurance, it provides deals on term insurance. For those over 50, an over 50s life insurance policy is a viable alternative, offering lifelong coverage without a fixed term. Individuals under 50 can explore deals on level term and decreasing term policies, which may better suit their needs.

Different types of life insurance

Term life insurance

Term life insurance is a policy with a set expiration date. It's designed to provide peace of mind during specific periods when financial obligations are at their peak, such as while raising a family or paying off a mortgage.

Level term

Level-term life insurance stands out for its stability. The payout remains constant throughout the policy's duration, as do the premiums. This predictability is a significant advantage, but it's worth noting that these policies can be more expensive, particularly for older individuals, and they do not account for inflation over time.


  • Fixed payout and premiums

  • Financial security for beneficiaries


  • Higher cost compared to decreasing term insurance

  • No inflation adjustment

Decreasing term

Decreasing term life insurance, also known as mortgage life insurance, is tailored to match the declining balance of a repayment mortgage. As you pay down your mortgage, the potential payout decreases accordingly, making it a cost-effective option for many homeowners.


  • Lower premiums

  • Aligns with mortgage repayment


  • Reducing payout

  • Not suitable for all mortgage types

Increasing term

For those concerned about the eroding value of a fixed payout due to inflation, increasing term life insurance offers a solution. The payout grows over time, ensuring that the policy's value keeps pace with the cost of living. However, this benefit comes with higher premiums.


  • Protection against inflation

  • Potential for higher payout


  • Rising premiums

  • Higher overall cost

Joint life insurance

Couples and partners often consider joint life insurance as a cost-effective way to provide coverage for both parties under a single policy. It's crucial to understand that these policies pay out only once, typically after the first death, leaving the surviving partner without coverage.


  • More affordable than two separate policies


  • Single payout

  • Premiums based on both parties' risk factors

Over 50s life insurance

Over-50s life insurance policies cater to the needs of older individuals, offering guaranteed acceptance without medical exams. These policies provide a fixed payout and premiums, but there's a risk that the total premiums paid may exceed the payout value.


  • Guaranteed acceptance

  • Fixed premiums and payout


  • Potential for premiums to exceed payout

  • Policy lapse if payments are missed

Whole of life insurance

Whole of life insurance guarantees a payout regardless of when you pass away, as long as premiums are maintained. This lifelong coverage can be more expensive than term policies, and there are variations, such as balanced cover with fixed premiums and maximum cover with variable premiums based on investment performance.


  • Guaranteed payout

  • Lifelong coverage


  • Higher cost

  • Potential health assessments

Mother, father and baby eating together at the table

Choosing the right life insurance

Selecting the appropriate life insurance policy requires careful consideration of your financial goals, the amount of coverage necessary, the policy's duration, and the beneficiaries you intend to protect. It's a decision that merits thorough analysis and, often, professional advice.

Did you know...

An estimated 26,900 parents die each year in the UK leaving dependent children; that’s one parent every 20 minutes, click here for more information

Multiple life insurance policies

Holding multiple life insurance policies is perfectly legal and can offer a tailored approach to coverage. However, managing several policies can be complex, and the cumulative premiums may strain your budget.

Life insurance payout options

To ensure that life insurance benefits are distributed efficiently and according to your wishes, consider trusts or family income benefit arrangements. These can help avoid the probate process and provide immediate support to your beneficiaries.

Payment of life insurance premiums

Premiums for life insurance can be paid monthly, quarterly, or annually. Some insurers may offer discounts for those who choose to pay annually, reducing the overall cost of the policy.

Critical illness cover

Critical illness cover is an additional layer of protection that pays out upon diagnosis of a severe medical condition. You can choose between a combined policy, which pays out once for either critical illness or death, or an additional policy that allows for two separate payouts.

Comparing life insurance quotes

Finding the right life insurance policy can be simplified by using comparison services like MoneySuperMarket, which provide tailored quotes from a range of UK providers. This tool can help you navigate the complex landscape of life insurance and select a policy that meets your specific needs.

If you're contemplating life insurance, remember that the type of policy you select will have a significant impact on your coverage. It's crucial to understand your options before making a decision. Whether you're considering term life insurance to protect your family during your working years, or an over-50s policy for peace of mind in later life, make sure to calculate how much cover you need to ensure your loved ones are adequately provided for.

Life insurance is not just a financial product; it's a commitment to the well-being of those you cherish most. Take the time to choose wisely, and rest assured that your legacy will be a secure foundation for your family's future.

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