We get a lot of comments about someone not needing life insurance until they are married, and why it’s not a smart way to allocate your money until you’ve said “I do.”
Unfortunately, it’s a myth.
I’m not saying it’s for every unmarried couple, but there are plenty of situations where it makes perfect sense! Evaluate your own situation and discuss it with your partner to see if it’s right for you. Life insurance as an unmarried couple may actually serve quite a few purposes.
Reasons Unmarried Couples Need Life Insurance
So what are some examples of situations where unmarried couples need life insurance? Here’s a few:
- Tied Assets
- Future Savings
Basically, if you have financial interest in each other in some way, there could be a need for life insurance. Unmarried couples, as the relationship builds and grows, acquire more and more things together and begin to plan their futures together as well. Nobody knows what the future holds, but you may as well be prepared, right?
Tied assets are probably one of the more obvious reasons to buy life insurance as an unmarried couple. Whether it’s a car, a house, or even a business, if you are purchasing a large asset which creates some sort of obligation like a mortgage or loan, consider life insurance to protect your future cash flow should something happen to your partner.
Smaller purchases like a television, furniture set, or jewelry are not serious enough. We’re talking big ticket items here.
If you have a child or children, this is a no brainer. You both now have a financial obligation to the child’s well being, so should your partner die prematurely, you’ll want to be able to continue taking care of the child without financial hardship. Being a single parent is hard enough; there’s no reason to add financial struggle to the equation. Not only do you need to think about having life insurance coverage on yourself now that you are a parent, or single parent, you need to also think about purchasing life insurance on your child.
As an unmarried couple, it is common that you may get pregnant, whether it was planned or not. If you are unmarried and do not have life insurance coverage and become pregnant, it is a good idea to go ahead and start planning for your future as a parent. Part of that is to protect your child’s future if something were to happen to you and you could no longer take care of them financially. You may ask yourself, can you get life insurance while pregnant? Yes! We can help you find a policy that will suit your needs, even while pregnant.
You may want to simply buy life insurance to save money. If you buy life insurance now, it’s going to be cheaper than if you buy years from now, simply because of your age. Even if you’re unsure if you’re with “The One,” you can buy a policy which will stay with you no matter who you choose, or when.
It’s a lot like investing: the earlier you begin, the better off you’ll be.
This might seem a little silly, but you may just want to buy life insurance because you really love someone. Should something happen to you, you’d truly like the person to be taken care of.
But it’s not just for your partner, it could be for other things, too! You may have fallen in love with a charitable group, volunteer network, or church where you’d like to make one last, thoughtful gift. There are really no limits to what you could do here.
Whatever the reason for your purchase, and should you decide it’s for you, you’ll need to make sure you take the correct ownership structure of the policy. It might seem like a non-issue, but there are times when it would be beneficial to have a well thought out plan.
For most of you, you’ll want to be the owner of your own policy. This means you have full control over the policy, as well as the ability to change or modify it or its contents. This is by far the most common method of ownership, for obvious reasons. You simply want to control the policy on your life.
The not so obvious way of doing things is to own your partners life insurance policy, and they own one on you. At first glance, to some, this is odd. The time this may come in handy is not so much when things are going well, but when things are not going well. This is a way for you to protect yourself, so the purchase of the policy keeps its intended purpose, should things not pan out. (More on this in a moment.)
Beneficiary designation on life insurance for unmarried couples is a big variable! Ownership type could play a role, the asset could play a role, or the relationship itself could play a role in how a beneficiary is determined. There aren’t many restrictions on who you can designate as a beneficiary, so this opens a lot of doors as well.
Depending on the reason for the insurance, you might designate your partner as beneficiary, an immediate family member, a bank or lender, or even your child. Just have a clear and concise reason for making the beneficiary who you want it, and consider laying out guidelines for how the money can be used so it’s not mishandled.
Especially when a child is involved, have a plan in place for disbursement to ensure the proceeds are effectively spent.
So what do you do if you’re not destined to be with person you’re with now? What do you do if you’ve already bought insurance and now you’re having a falling out? Let’s discuss.
This is where having done everything correctly up front has the biggest impact. If you’ve split up, unfortunately, it doesn’t mean your finances are simply split up, too. Some of the obligations you’ve accumulated together aren’t so simple to cut in half and part equally. This is why it’s important to have your life insurance prepared right!
Example: A couple both signed a loan for a new car, which he agreed to pay for, yet she always drove it. They split up and mutually agree she can keep the car as long as she assumes the payments, too. With the free cash flow, he goes and buys his own car. Tragically, she dies, a week later.
He now has two car payments, because he is responsible for her car as a cosigner as well as the car he just bought. This can play out in two ways.
- He’s the beneficiary to some or all of the proceeds and he’s able to pay off the obligation she left behind.
- He’s not the beneficiary to any proceeds, and is stuck with double payments.
It all depends on how the policies were set up at conception. The same goes for situations with houses or other loans taken out by the couple. Even worse, if a couple splits with a child in the equation, things like child support can be lost without proper insurance in place.
The Right Life Insurance
There are a vast number of ways life insurance can play into an unmarried couples’ life. Insurance may need to be in place for a lot of reasons, but even if you’ve come to the decision you need it, you may not know what you need.
Here’s a few quick tips:
- Only buy term: if you’re unsure you’ll be together forever, don’t purchase a policy which lasts forever. You’ll end up paying a lot less.
- Don’t buy more than necessary: buying a smaller amount of death benefit will cost less, so don’t go and buy a huge one million dollar policy.
- Consider the time period: if you have a short obligation of just a few years, buy a short duration of coverage. If it’s a mortgage or similar long-term need, get a policy which lasts longer.
If none of the things mentioned above pertain to your situation, then you may not need life insurance as an unmarried couple after all. Talk it over with your significant other in constructive way if you do think you need it, and always approach it as a “we” thing, not a “me” thing. If you have health concerns and are wondering if you would be denied coverage, there are guaranteed issue life insurance policies available especially for you.
“We should think about life insurance” goes a lot farther than “Can I buy life insurance on you?”