Joint Life Insurance: What is it and How does it Work?

Last Updated May 25, 2024
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     Frequently, people may want insurance for both themselves and their partners but are still trying to figure out what the best way to go about it is. Perhaps you qualify for life insurance but your partner is often denied due to health issues. Luckily, there is a way to ensure that both you and your partner are covered so you can each protect your family and loved ones. Joint life insurance, also known as dual life insurance, may be the best fit for you.

What is Joint Life Insurance?

     Joint life insurance is a type of life insurance policy that covers two people under one policy. Dual life insurance policies are often a single policy for two with a single monthly premium that helps to cover each insured party. Typically, most people who opt for a joint life insurance policy are married couples but you do not need to be married in order to file for dual life insurance.

How Does Joint Life Insurance Work?

     A joint life insurance policy acts like other whole life insurance policies in that it lasts the last time of the policyholders and provides a death benefit for beneficiaries. They feature a cash value investment like other whole life insurance policies that allow you to save a bit of money during the time of the policy.  Joint policies that are term, which means they last for a period of 10-30 years, do exist but are far less common. A common question for people filing is when the death benefit will actually be paid. Will the beneficiary get the death benefit once one of the joint insured passes or must both pass before they see any kind of benefit? Luckily, insurance companies typically have two types of joint life insurance policies. 


     As the name suggests, First-To-Die insurance is when the insurance company pays a death benefit after the first of the joint insured passes away. Keep in mind, however, that not every carrier offers this option. They may opt for you to instead enroll in standard single life insurance. In fact, they are both very similar in that once the death benefit is paid, the insurance coverage ends. Fortunately, should the surviving insured wants a new life insurance policy they are still eligible to do so but will have to go through the application process again. First-to-Die joint life insurance is best suited for young families, especially families that have a sole-bread winner and need help managing large debts.


     Second-to-Die dual life insurance policies are also known as survivorship policies and pay out a death benefit once both insured passes away. If you are looking for an income replacement type of death benefit, then getting a single life insurance policy may be in your best interest. Second-to-Die joint life insurance is best for established couples, typically parents, looking to support a dependent after they pass. There could be a gap between the death of each insured, so this is best as leaving money for heirs or paying an inheritance tax. After the first partner dies, the second spouse is still responsible for any and all premium payments that are owed to the insurance company.

Joint Life Insurance VS Single Life Insurance

     At first glance, joint life insurance and single life insurance policies offer the same exact benefits. They are either term life insurance or permanent life insurance policies that offer a death benefit to beneficiaries. The whole life of each type offers cash value that accumulates over time. The biggest difference comes with how they are used. Single life insurance only covers the death of one person and pays out a sum to beneficiaries. 

     Joint life insurance policies cover two people and are used to provide an inheritance to heirs rather than replace income. This is especially true when it comes to Second-to-Die life insurance policies. They are designed to provide dependents with a small nest egg to use as they please. Single life insurance policies are often used to provide a final expense death benefit or as income replacement should the main or sole earner in a family pass away.

Pros and Cons of Joint Life Insurance

There are instances where a joint life insurance policy just makes sense for your needs and when they do not. There are a number of instances where a dual life insurance policy would be greatly beneficial. Below are a few pros and cons of joint life insurance.


  • Great for Estate Planning
    If you are someone with significant assets or need help with estate planning, the Second-To-Die joint life insurance can greatly help you. This would allow you to plan, organize, and preserve inheritances. With this, the surviving insured is also still able to access the cash value that has been built and use it for themselves or put it towards estate planning.
  • Available for Domestic and Business Partners

    Joint life insurance policies are not just for married couples. People in domestic partnerships or business partners can benefit from having a dual life insurance policy. It is common for business partners to obtain a dual life insurance policy in order to ensure the life of the business in the event of one passing. The death benefit can be used to assist with business costs that would otherwise be unmanageable. You and the person who is applying for joint life insurance may have to show proof of your assets.
  • Better Than Buying Two Separate Policies 

    Joint life insurance policies are often cheaper than buying two whole life insurance policies. It makes more sense to have one policy and one premium for both people who need coverage.


  • More Expensive in Some Cases

    While joint insurance companies may be less expensive if you are considering two permanent life insurance policies, there are several instances in which it would be far more expensive. For example, if one partner has health issues while the other does not, it could lead to higher premium rates in comparison to a single life insurance policy. This is because insurance companies will review applicants as a whole. They will look at your average health in comparison to each other and provide you with an amount that way. On the flip side, you can find coverage for someone with pre existing conditions, whose health would otherwise be too poor to get life insurance. 

  • Complicates Divorces 

    Having joint life insurance can greatly complicate a divorce. Some insurance companies do not allow the coverage of a dual life insurance policy to be split without a rider. In that case, if your insurance company does not have any provisions in place for such a circumstance, you may be out of luck. Of course, you can be divorced and keep your joint life insurance policy. Getting a divorce does not nullify a policy that is forced and can be beneficial to keep, especially if the beneficiaries are dependents. However, if you do not wish to continue your dual life insurance policy with an ex-partner you may need to allow your policy to lapse.

  • Lower Cash Return Rate and Slow Payout

    The overall amount accrued will be far lower than in another type of investment or retirement savings account. On top of a slow build of cash value, you are naturally waiting longer for a death benefit. With Second-to-Die joint life insurance especially, beneficiaries are waiting for two people to pass away before they are entitled to their money. Of course, this may be a non-issue if you are using a dual life insurance policy for estate planning and to manage inheritances.

How to Get Joint Life Insurance

     If you are looking for joint life insurance the talented agents at Final Expense Benefits can help you find the best policy for you. We will work with you to figure out if a dual life insurance policy is best for you and your family’s needs. Business partners, specifically, should always consider if you or your partner can pay for expenses should one of you pass away.  If you and your spouse or business partner are looking for a way to protect your legacy then talk to a financial professional today.

  Final Expense Benefits partners with over 20 carriers with customer satisfaction guaranteed. They offer no medical exam options at much more affordable rates that fit your needs.  Some of our highly-rated carriers include:

     If you are looking for trusted and affordable final expense insurance, the experts at Final Expense Benefits have got you covered. Call one of our talented agents today at 1 (866) 311-4338 to get an affordable quote with one of our highly-rated insurance carriers. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Term insurance plans cover you for a set duration of time. Typically these policies span from 10 – 20 years. These policies are often the most affordable and have lower monthly premiums. You can renew policies if the term is up but you still need life insurance.

Unlike term, whole life insurance is a type of policy that lasts for as long as you pay the premiums. Usually, the policy has a clause to end if you live over 100 years old. Whole life insurance also has a cash value that grows over the lifetime of the policy. 

Joint life insurance, or dual life insurance, are permanent life insurance policies that insure two people instead of one. Some policies are term life insurance policies but these are much rarer.

Survivorship insurance policies are a type of joint life insurance policy. Another name for them would be “Second-To-Die” joint life insurance policies. 

The answer is that it depends. Single life insurance is typically less expensive but a joint life insurance plan is better for estate planning. If you have a number of assets you wish to manage before your death, then a dual life insurance policy may be in your best interest.  You can discuss your options with an insurance agent.

Absolutely not. Business partners and people in domestic partnerships can also get a joint life insurance policy. The only stipulation is that you would have to prove that you depend on each other or that there are shared assets.

No, a joint life insurance policy does not pay out twice. If you have a First-To-Die policy and one person from the group passes away, then the insurance companies will pay out a death benefit and the insurance coverage will end. If you are under a survivorship, or a Second-to-die, policy then the insurance company would not pay any death benefits until the second insured passes away.

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