Joint life insurance

If you’re married, in a long-term relationship, or working with a business partner, you might want to think about getting joint life insurance.

A joint policy covers two people, rather than one. If one or both or you were to die unexpectedly, a single payout could be claimed against the policy, providing a financial safety net to the surviving partner or relatives.

This could give reassurance to you both if you have shared financial commitments that a surviving partner might struggle to manage alone. For example, mortgage payments on a house, or business loans and costs.

Is a joint life insurance policy right for you?

In this guide, we’ll explain:

  • Joint life insurance covers two people under one policy. The policy usually pays out just once.

    The rules around when a claim can be made can vary, depending on the type of policy you select.

    • First death policies. A lump sum payout can be claimed by the surviving policyholder once the first person dies. After the payout, the cover will end, and the surviving partner can choose whether to buy a new single life insurance policy.
    • Second death policies. A lump sum payout can only be claimed when both policyholders have passed away. If one partner dies, the policy will continue as long as the surviving policyholder keeps up with the premium payments.

    In this guide, we’ll mainly focus on first death policies.

    It’s important to know that life insurance products have no cash-in value at any time. Cover will simply stop at the end of the agreed term if you don’t make a successful claim while the policy is active. 

    If you don’t keep up with premium payments, your cover will also stop, and you’ll get nothing back.

  • You might think that joint life insurance is only for married couples. But that’s not always the case. There are other situations where it can be reassuring to have joint cover in place.

    • Joint homeowners. If one of you dies, a joint life insurance policy could help the other keep up with mortgage payments.
    • Working parents with young children. In the event of one parent’s death, the costs of raising the children could fall on the other parent or guardian.
    • Joint business owners or business partners. If you have a shared financial commitment, like a joint business venture, a joint policy could help settle any company debts if one partner died unexpectedly.

    When applying for joint life insurance or any other life cover, just make sure all information given is honest, accurate and up to date.

  • Not sure which to pick? Choosing between a joint or single life insurance policy will depend on several factors, including the status of your partnership and your finances. It might help to think about:

    Your budget.

    A joint life insurance policy can be cheaper than two single policies, and you’ll only have one premium to pay. But remember that you can only claim once, then the policy will end.

    How much you earn.

    If one partner earns more than the other, you might still want to have a joint policy in place. That way, if either of you died, the surviving partner could still manage your household costs.

    Your individual needs.

    You might find that one of you needs a lot less cover than the other. This can happen for all sorts of reasons, especially if one of you earns a lot more. In this instance, you might prefer to get single policies for different levels of cover.

    What happens when the policy ends?

    Whether your policy ends due to a claim, or it just reaches the end of the agreed policy term, cover will simply stop. At this point, you can decide if you want to buy a new policy.

    Factors including your health and age, affect your policy premium, so it will be more expensive to buy cover in later life. Whether you choose joint or single life insurance may depend on whether or not you’d still like to have cover in place in the event of a claim.

    By working through your options, you can get a good idea of what life cover options suit you and your partner.

  • Before deciding if a joint life insurance policy is right for you, it can help to think about the following:

    Features Things to consider


    Having a joint life insurance policy could cut your premium costs, compared to two separate policies.

    Your age, health, and lifestyle can affect your policy premiums. So, if one of you smokes or is significantly older, this could increase your premium.


    If one or both or you died, a claim could be made to give a financial benefit.

    You can only claim once, and the policy will end. The surviving policyholder would need to arrange a new policy at this point.


    A first death joint policy can be ideal for partners who share financial commitments, such as a mortgage. It can help pay off the mortgage if one of you dies.

    In the case of a first death policy, the surviving policyholder won’t be covered once the payout is claimed.


    With a single policy and premium to manage, you could save time and money.

    If a relationship breaks down, you might have to cancel your joint policy. Usually, joint life insurance can’t be split into two single policies.

  • At Halifax, we offer different life insurance options, depending on the type of cover you need:

    Level term life insurance

    With a level term life insurance policy, your premiums and cover amount stay the same for the full term, until the policy ends.

    Decreasing term life insurance

    With a decreasing term life insurance policy, although the premiums stay the same for the term of your policy, the cover amount will slowly decrease. That could make this form of life insurance a bit cheaper overall.

    Decreasing term life insurance is commonly used to cover a repayment mortgage – the balance of which will also decrease as you make payments.

    Joint life insurance with critical illness cover

    You can add critical illness cover to a joint life insurance policy. This could give a financial benefit if either of you were diagnosed with an illness that’s covered in the policy. You could use this to pay for treatment, making your home more accessible, or just to manage your household costs while you focus on your health. There will be an additional cost for critical illness cover.

  • We don't currently offer joint life insurance online. However, you can speak to one of our experts at Cavendish Online to get a quote and discuss your options. 

    Like us, they are part of Lloyds Banking Group and can give guidance on Scottish Widows life insurance policies. You won't be charged for their help and you're under no obligation when you speak to them. To be eligible, you need to be a UK resident, aged 18 or over, and under 70.

    Call Cavendish Online on 0800 131 0297 or request a call-back. 

    Lines are open Monday to Thursday 10am -7pm, Friday 10am- 6pm.

An image of a couple holding hands.

Frequently asked questions about joint life insurance

  • That depends on the type of joint life insurance you have. For a first death policy, a single lump sum payout can be claimed by the surviving policyholder, then the policy will come to an end.

    For a second death policy, the surviving policyholder is still covered if the premiums are paid. Their beneficiaries can claim a payout if both policyholders die while the policy is active.  

  • It can be cheaper to have joint life insurance, compared to two single insurance policies. The premium costs can vary depending on your circumstances. For example, they’ll be higher if one of you is significantly older than the other, or if either of you have pre-existing health conditions.

  • It can depend on the insurer or whether you have a flexible policy. Sometimes, the insurer might let you split the joint insurance into two single policies. Or one of you may be able to take over the policy.

    If you decide to cancel the policy, just be aware that there’s no cash-in value. You’ll simply be drawing a line and starting again.

    Because life insurance premiums are affected by factors including your health and age, if you buy a new policy, it’s likely to be more expensive.

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