Life insurance provides precious peace of mind that your family and dependants will be looked after financially if you passed away.
But for many of us, life insurance remains an awkward topic – we’re talking about death, after all, and that’s never easy.
That goes some of the way to explaining why a number of myths have grown up around the way life insurance works.
Here, we expose the most common ones so that you can make a better choice about which policy will provide the best protection for you and your loved ones.
Myth 1 - You’ll need to have a medical or release your medical records
It’s unlikely you’ll be asked to undertake a medical when you apply for life insurance. An insurer will only request one if you’ve had severe health problems in the past and it wants to check how you are now.
Similarly, insurers will only need to access medical records in a minority of cases, usually if the applicant has past or current health issues, or there is a history of, say, heart disease in the family.
Myth 2 - You’ll need annual health check-ups to maintain your policy
The good news is, once you’ve got your policy, there’s no requirement for annual medical check-ups.
Myth 3 - You don’t need life cover if you’re not working
Even if you don’t work, if you have dependants, it’s still important to think about how your family could be affected financially if you were to pass away.
For example, if you stay at home looking after the children while your partner works, you’ll need cover to fund childcare costs if you’re no longer around. Taking out life insurance can be a vital financial lifeline.
Myth 4 – Couples should always take out joint life policies
A joint life policy won’t always be the best option – it will depend on the circumstances. A joint life policy will almost always be cheaper than two separate policies, but the cover won’t be as extensive or as flexible.
Joint policies will only pay out once, so the first claim you make would result in the end of the policy. That would mean the second person would no longer be covered and would need to take out a new policy if they wanted to continue having life insurance.
If they did then take out another policy, because they would be older, their premiums on the new policy would be higher.
Complications can also arise if the couple splits up.
But if separate policies are unaffordable, a joint policy is a valuable option.
Myth 5 - You’ll be credit checked by the insurer
No credit check is required for an insurer to provide you with cover. If at any point you can no longer afford premiums then you simply stop paying them and the policy and cover will cease.
Myth 6 - If you have combined life and critical illness cover, the policy can pay out twice
In reality, this type of combined policy will only pay out once, at which point cover will cease.
For example, if you had cancer and claimed on the policy, it would pay out and the policy would end. There would be no further payment if you later passed away.
Myth 7 - If you have term insurance, you’ll get a cash lump sum if you survive
Unfortunately, you won’t get your premiums back if you don’t make a claim during the term of the policy.
Myth 8 – Life insurance payouts are always tax-free
They’re not, but they can be. The key is to have the policy ‘written in trust’. Your insurer or broker should sort that out for you – so make sure they do.
Proceeds from a policy written in trust are not taxed. If the policy is not written in trust the payout will be added to the deceased person’s estate, which means it could be subject to inheritance tax, levied at 40%.
Writing the policy in trust is not only tax efficient, it will also speed up the payment process.