Life insurance

What married couples should know about life insurance


The flowers. The music. The … lifelong commitment. Yes, a wedding truly has it all.

If you’re newly married, or about to be married, or have been married a long time and are suddenly curious about providing financial protection for your spouse and other loved ones, you’re in the right place. That’s because life insurance is a great way to provide exactly that.

To learn more about why married couples (and unmarried couples, too) should buy life insurance, keep reading.


Why couples should get life insurance

Here are three situations — married without kids, married with kids, and unmarried with or without kids — and why life insurance for married couples makes sense in all three.

Life insurance protects married couples without children

Many people think of life insurance as something to have in place after they have children. But if you’re getting married, you’re likely combining your finances, too. (That is, if you haven’t already.) That might mean you’re contributing to paying off your spouse’s debt (or vice versa); it might mean your combined incomes go toward paying rent or a mortgage, not to mention car payments, groceries and so much more.

All of which is to say, even without children, there is now another person who relies on your salary to make ends meet. And if something were to happen to you, your spouse might not have the income to cover those expenses.

Life insurance provides financial protection in the form of a death benefit that is paid out to your designated beneficiaries if you were to die. This money typically comes in the form of a tax-free lump sum payout, which can be used for funeral expenses, unpaid debts, or anything else. Your widow might even use it to offset the cost of time off from work to grieve your loss.

Of course, you might have other people who depend on you, even partially, even without kids. For example, a niece or nephew whose tuition you help cover, or an aging parent who relies on you to help cover expenses. If there is someone who depends on your income to pay for life’s necessities, life insurance is a good idea in case the worst should happen.

Life insurance protects married couples with children

If you’re married and choose to have children, life insurance is essential for protecting your family financially. The expenses and responsibilities of parenthood are considerable (as you well know); paying for things without your income would be a heavy burden for a spouse.

And it’s not just the day-to-day needs like clothes, food, diapers, toys and gas for schlepping your kids to and fro. There’s also long-term expenses to consider, like tuition and the potential cost of housing. If you’re hoping to leave a financial legacy for your children, that’s something to consider too.

If you’re a stay at home parent or otherwise do not work outside the home, a life insurance policy might still make sense. That’s because the cost of your labor is worth nearly $200,000 per year, according to some estimates. Without you around, your spouse would have to cover that labor somehow, either through hired help or by making some kind of career adjustment.

For many families, getting life insurance coverage that lasts until the kids are out of school (or expect to graduate from college) is a good idea.

Life insurance protects unmarried couples with long-term commitments

You don’t need to be married to protect someone with life insurance. If you are in a  long-term relationship with someone who shares your home, potentially children, a bank account, etc., you should consider getting a life insurance policy that helps protect them in case something happens to you.


Types of life insurance

You have many choices when it comes to choosing life insurance. Here are two of the most common types of life insurance:

Term life insurance

Term life insurance is coverage for a specific period, called the term. You can usually choose anywhere from 10 to 30 years of coverage, and many people decide to get coverage that lasts until the kids are out of school, the mortgage is paid off, or the insured retires.

In other words, you get insurance that lasts during the years when you’re making money and covering someone else’s expenses, and ends when those things are no longer true. This also makes term life insurance one of the most affordable options.

For most people, getting a policy worth 5 to 10 times their annual salary is a good amount of coverage. This is known as the life insurance rule of thumb. Haven Life offers coverage amounts from $250,000 to $3 million.

At Haven Life, a 30-year-old man in excellent health can get a 30-year policy worth $500,000 for $34.99 per month, which translates to a little over $1 per day. Not bad for three decades’ worth of peace of mind.

Whole life insurance

True to its name, whole life insurance (a form of permanent life insurance) covers you for your whole life. If you’re 32 now and purchase a whole life policy, your beneficiary will receive a payout if the worst should happen, whenever it happens.

Whole life policies also build cash value over time, and those gains are tax-deferred. You can typically borrow against the cash value of your policy, but those loans will reduce the total death benefit and cash value, and might result in a tax liability if the policy ends before your death.

The tradeoff is that whole life policies are often much more expensive, with higher life insurance rates. They cover the years when you’re older and your health is likely to be worse.

For a $500,000 whole life insurance policy, a 35-year-old man in excellent health might pay $562 per month, according to a recent quote from State Farm. That’s $525 more per month than a comparable 30-year term life insurance policy for that same man — or $189,000 more in premiums over the life of a comparable term policy.


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