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Life insurance for couples: A guide for Canadians

Getting life insurance with your spouse or partner is an opportunity to protect each other from unexpected financial hardship if one of you passes away. This doesn’t necessarily involve a joint life insurance policy—just a coordinated effort when applying for individual coverage. Here’s why it makes sense for couples to apply for life insurance together—including the potential to save money on your premiums.

Why couples need life insurance

Almost everyone needs insurance, but we all have unique insurance needs. When you get married or combine finances with a live-in partner, it’s important to find insurance policies that protect not only your home and vehicle but also your income, partner and family. This typically includes life insurance, which is available in both term and permanent life options. Term life insurance is the best fit for most Canadians, while permanent life insurance, which includes whole and universal policies, is best for those with complex estate-planning needs.

Life insurance is appropriate for many Canadians, but it’s most important if you’re in a long-term relationship, you and your partner have significantly different income levels or you have dependents such as children. Having life insurance protects your loved ones from financial hardship and allows them to maintain their lifestyle, pay off a mortgage or deal with other outstanding debts.

Think of it this way: if your family were to lose you, the last thing you’d want is for them to worry about paying the bills or to have to move to a cheaper place. Life insurance for couples prevents financial stress at an already difficult time, providing security and allowing your family to focus on coping without you. By listing your partner as your primary beneficiary, you’re essentially providing them with a safety net. And if both of you were to pass away, your respective beneficiaries would be provided for.

What to consider for couples life insurance

You wouldn’t buy shoes marked one-size-fits-all, and shopping for life insurance is similar—it has to be the perfect fit. When looking at life insurance coverage as a couple, it’s important to address what each person needs and doesn’t need.

Let’s imagine a couple in their mid- to late 30s with two young children. If one parent earns a substantial salary while the other stays home to manage the household, the primary income earner likely needs a policy with a much higher value than their partner. In other cases, a couple’s life insurance policies will be more closely matched.

In addition to your income and relationship status, the level of life insurance coverage you need will depend on your age, debts and assets, and whether or not you have children or other dependents to provide for.

Single vs. joint life insurance

Here are the pros and cons of having a joint life insurance policy versus separate life insurance policies:

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