There’s a reason why many traditional wedding vows include the phrase “till death do us part.” When you marry someone, you’re pledging to stay by their side until the end of their life. But, even though people make this pledge in front of family, friends and an array of expensive wedding decorations, they don’t actually consider what could happen if death were to part them.
The death of a spouse can be financially devastating for the surviving partner — especially if the partnership has expanded into a family. Many couples understand that term life insurance is an affordable way of protecting loved ones against financial hardship. While they often assume that only the primary breadwinner needs a life insurance policy — or that the partner with the higher income needs more life insurance coverage than the partner with less income.
This kind of thinking has led to a life insurance gender gap, in which men with life insurance take out nearly twice as much coverage as women do. However, both men and women need to consider all of the financial advantages they bring to their marriages and partnerships: income, caregiving, household management and so on. It’s easy to understand how life insurance can replace the income of a primary breadwinner, but some people forget that life insurance can also cover child care costs if something were to happen to the primary caregiver.
Do both you and your spouse need life insurance? In many cases, the answer is yes. Whether you’re married, domestic partners or simply sharing a life with someone you love, taking out a pair of affordable term life insurance policies can provide both financial security and peace of mind.
Let’s take a look at the different spousal scenarios where you and your partner may need life insurance coverage.
Do both spouses need life insurance?
The first big question to ask yourself is whether you and your partner both need life insurance. Is one spouse’s life insurance policy enough, or should both of you get policies? Do you both need life insurance if you’re still in your 20s, if you don’t plan to have children or if one of you is a full-time student?
Financial bloggers Kelan and Brittany Kline, known as The Savvy Couple, shared their life insurance story with Haven Life. Each of them took out Haven Life coverage because they wanted to help ensure their long-term financial security no matter what happened.
“When it comes to being financially savvy, having peace of mind and knowing your family will be protected in the future, getting life insurance is a no-brainer,” Kelan Kline says.
Do spouses need the same amount of life insurance?
The next big question you’ll need to answer is how much life insurance coverage you and your spouse both need. Should each of you take out the same amount of coverage, or does one of you need a larger life insurance policy?
There’s a strong argument to be made for both partners taking out the same amount of coverage. When The Savvy Couple bought their Haven Life policies, they elected to take out $500,000, 20-year term life insurance policies on each partner. “We wanted to make sure that if anything happened to either of us the other one would still be financially sound,” Kline explains.
However, there’s also an argument to be made for calculating your life insurance coverage needs based on the amount of income your spouse or partner would need to come up with after your death. And yes, that might mean that one of you would need to buy more coverage.
When you’re doing this kind of calculation, make sure you consider all of the angles. How much money would your partner need to cover the day-to-day costs of living, from rent or mortgage payments to childcare costs? What about long-term financial goals, such as putting your children through college? Think about the kind of life insurance benefit you’d like your family to receive if the worst-case scenario occurs, and look for a policy that provides that kind of coverage.
Use an online life insurance calculator to determine how much coverage you and your partner might need.
Do children need life insurance as well?
Sometimes parents wonder whether they should take out a life insurance policy for their dependent children. This is less to protect against a potential income loss and more to cover the often expensive costs of a funeral and burial.
If the worst-worst-case scenario occurs, the last thing you and your spouse will want to think about is how you’re going to pay for your child’s memorial service. However, although it often makes sense to buy a life insurance policy on both parents regardless of the amount of income they earn, children rarely need their own life insurance policies.
When is it time for spouses to consider life insurance?
In an ideal world, you and your partner would have started talking about buying life insurance as part of your wedding-planning process — because purchasing affordable life insurance coverage is just as important as nailing down that wedding venue, right? That said, most of us live in the real world, and only consider life insurance when we feel like we have something worth protecting.
For a lot of couples — including Kelan and Brittany Kline — that starts with the birth of their first child.
“Before we had our daughter we had talked about needing to get life insurance to better protect our growing family,” Kelan Kline says. “It took us a few months after she was born, but we finally took the time to research life insurance and Haven Life kept coming to the top as our best option.”
Some couples decide to buy life insurance coverage after taking out their first mortgage. Others take into consideration their overall financial goals too.
“We decided for us to feel comfortably covered, we would each want to have coverage totaling at least the anticipated cost of our mortgage and some for our son’s college,” says Cheri Kevane, a business consultant at Haven Life.
Regardless of the timing, an online life insurance calculator can help you and your partner figure out what coverage works best for your family.
What spouses should consider when buying term life insurance
When you’re evaluating life insurance policies and comparing quotes, here are some questions to ask yourself:
How long would you like your coverage to last?
Term life insurance policies offer coverage over a specific period of time (that’s what the “term” part means). You’ll often see policies offering 10, 15, 20, or 30-year terms. It’s a good idea to choose a term length that will protect your family when they need it most — whether you’re matching a 30-year term policy to a 30-year mortgage, or taking out a 20-year policy to cover your family until your kids grow up.
How much will your coverage cost?
Term life insurance premiums are very affordable. The cost of a term life insurance policy will depend on your age and health as well as the term length and coverage amount you choose. The following are sample quotes for a Haven Term policy, issued by MassMutual, for people in excellent health:
Age Coverage $250,000 $500,000 $750,000 $1,000,000
20 Male $16.77 $22.05 $30.07 $38.09
Female $14.38 $19.03 $25.55 $32.07
25 Male $16.99 $22.48 $30.72 $38.96
Female $14.58 $19.03 $25.55 $32.07
30 Male $17.43 $22.48 $30.72 $38.96
Female $14.99 $19.46 $26.19 $32.92
35 Male $18.06 $23.34 $32.01 $40.67
Female $15.37 $20.32 $27.49 $34.65
40 Male $24.12 $32.38 $45.57 $58.77
Female $19.91 $28.07 $39.11 $50.15
45 Male $38.16 $56.07 $81.10 $106.13
Female $29.64 $43.15 $61.72 $80.30
Source: Haven Life
Do you need to take a medical exam?
Medically underwritten term life insurance policies are often the most affordable types of coverage. These policies take into consideration your age, lifestyle choices, and personal and family health history to determine eligibility and pricing that’s personalized to you. These policies often require a medical exam, but not always.
Thanks to innovations in underwriting, some medically underwritten policies – like the Haven Term policy – can be purchased without a medical exam for a subset of applicants that qualify to skip it. Once a customer submits an application, they will be instantly notified as to whether they qualify to skip the medical exam or not. Keep in mind that it’s always very important to be honest in the application process. The issuance of the policy or payment of benefits may depend upon the answers you give in the application and your truthfulness.
Some types of term life insurance don’t require a medical exam. For example, simplified issue policies typically require applicants to fill out a short questionnaire in the underwriting process, with a few health-related questions. No medical exam is needed to apply and get a coverage decision. While a 100% no-medical-exam life insurance policy will usually cost more per month than medically underwritten coverage, it may be a good option for those who know they absolutely do not want to take an exam.
Keep in mind that the medical exam might seem intimidating, but it’s actually a pretty straightforward process. With the Haven Term policy, the exam itself takes about 20 to 30 minutes and the paramedical examiner who’s conducting the exam can meet you at your home, your work or the exam office.
Choose the option that works best for you and your spouse
Term life insurance isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for couples. Your financial situation, your lifestyle — they all play a significant role in determining what coverage fits your needs.
However, life insurance is a very valuable solution for helping to ensure you have a financial legacy to leave your loved ones — no matter the current status of your savings accounts.
The best thing you and your partner can do is to sit down and have a conversation about your wishes for the other person if you were no longer around. And what the financial impact of that loss would be.
It’s not the easiest of discussions, but it’s a vital one. Each person in a marriage or partnership should feel secure and financially protected no matter what life throws at you. After all, peace of mind is critical to any happy partnership.
Nicole Dieker is a full-time freelance writer. Her work regularly appears on Bankrate, Lifehacker, The Write Life and numerous other sites. She is the author of Frugal and the Beast: And Other Financial Fairy Tales. This article is sponsored by Haven Life Insurance Agency. Opinions are her own.
Haven Life Insurance Agency offers this as educational information only. Haven Life does not endorse or offer the products, services and/or strategies discussed here.
Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC 042017 [OK1] and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.