Life assurance allows you to make sure your family is protected in the event of your death, during the policy term. You choose the amount of cover you need and the length of time you want to be insured for. Your premiums will never change (unless you change the amount of cover held under the policy or alter the plan), allowing you to budget with confidence.
Is Life Cover known under different names?
Because Life Assurance is such a varied and flexible product, it can come under a number of different names. Each generally describes the covers aims however some are simply interchangable with Life Assurance:
A general term used to mean the same as Life Assurance. The difference is that in the insurance world they insure against something which might happen but they assure against some they know definitely will happen at some stage, i.e., death.
Mortgage Life Assurance / Mortgage Life Insurance
Mortgage Life Assurance is used to protect your mortgage against the risk of you dying and leaving it behind for your family to continue paying.
Mortgage Life Assurance is only suitable for mortgages which are Capital and Repayment because the level of cover is designed to reduce as your mortgage reduces over the years.
The reduction ensures that there is always enough in the ‘pot’ to pay off the mortgage if the worst happens but there will be very little surplus remaining.
Decreasing Life Assurance / Decreasing Life Insurance
Decreasing Life Assurance is a term used to mean the same as Mortgage Life Assurance. The ‘decreasing’ refers to the reduction in cover over the years.
Term Life Assurance / Term Life Insurance
Term Life Assurance is the opposite of Mortgage Life Assurance in that the amount of cover remains the same throughout the term of the policy and does not reduce. This type of Life Assurance is suitable for those people with Interest Only mortgages, those wishing to cover funeral expenses and people wanting to leave a sum of money behind to ensure their families standard of living.
Level Life Assurance / Level Life Insurance
Level Life Assurance or Level Term Life Assurance is another term which is used to refer to Term Life Assurance.
Increasing Life Assurance / Increasing Life Insurance
Increasing Life Assurance is an extra option offered by most insurance companies which allows you to protect your Term Life Assurance policy from the effects of inflation. Each year you will be offered the opportunity to increase your amount of cover inline with the retail price index without any further need for medical information.
This allows your policy to retain its real value over the years so your family receive a payout of equivalent value in years to come.
Index Linked Life Assurance / Index Linked Life Insurance
Another term used to refer to the increasing life assurance option offered on term life assurance policies.
Critical Illness Cover
Critical illness cover is an important financial safety net. It’s designed to to pay out a fixed cash amount if you’re diagnosed with one of the critical illnesses covered in the individual insurer’s policy.
Critical Illness Cover is designed to pay out in most circumstances including cancer, heart attack and stroke. However because of advances in medicine, not every type of cancer will have a severe impact on your lifestyle if discovered and treated early enough, for example, a cancer needs to have spread or reached a specified severity to be covered.
IF THE POLICY HAS NO INVESTMENT ELEMENT THEN IT WILL HAVE NO CASH IN VALUE AT ANY TIME AND WILL CEASE AT THE END OF THE TERM. IF PREMIUMS ARE NOT MAINTAINED, THEN COVER WILL LAPSE.
PLANS MAY NOT COVER ALL THE DEFINITIONS OF A CRITICAL ILLNESS. THE DEFINITIONS VARY BETWEEN PRODUCT PROVIDERS AND WILL BE DESCRIBED IN THE KEY FEATURES AND POLICY DOCUMENT IF YOU GO AHEAD WITH A PLAN.
Why do you need it?
The loss of a spouse or parent can leave dependants with additional issues to cope with other than the emotional. If you are inadequately insured, your dependants may be left with a dramatically reduced household income, which could affect their quality of life. Potentially there may be reduced opportunities for children such as the ability to pay for a university education or difficulties in maintaining mortgage payments on a reduced income.
In the event of your death, a lending institution will not write off your debt. Rather, they will continue to pursue the debt through your dependants and could, ultimately, foreclose on the loan meaning the loss of the family home.
What will the State provide?
The main benefits the State may provide are the Widowed Parent’s Allowance and Child Benefit. Depending on whether the widow(er) qualifies for Income Support, the State may or may not help with paying the mortgage interest.
The method for calculating which benefits an individual may qualify for is extremely complicated. More information is available at the Department of Work and Pensions website www.dss.gov.uk.
Frequently Asked Questions
47% of people who claimed were under 40
27% were between 41 to 50
20% were between 51 to 60
All figures taken from Bright Grey claims statistics 1 July – 31 December 2011
This is offered as a goodwill gesture by the insurance companies to allow you the opportunity to settle your affairs and make your own arrangements before you die.
It is important to understand that this is not the same as Critical Illness Cover and will only be offered for conditions where your doctor has told you that you will die within 12 months.
This is important because as time goes by the real time value of your payout will decrease. That is to say that what you can buy for £100,000 today will not be the same in ten years time. Index linking your Life Assurance policy will allow it to maintain that value.
At the time of your death your family will obviously be upset and whilst thinking about your insurance payout will probably not be the first thing they want to think about, it may be necessary to cover your funeral expenses or pay off your mortgage. As such it is important that the process for ensuring your family is paid quickly is in place.
Normally your life insurance payout would be paid into your estate and left to the process of probate to decide how it should be divided up and used. Unfortunately probate can be a lengthy process (at times up to 6 months) especially if your will is contested.
One way to avoid the probate procedure for your life assurance is by having your policy written into trust. Writing your policy into a trust allows you to nominate to whom the payout should be made, meaning that it is paid by the insurance company much faster to exactly who you intended it to go to.
As an added benefit, writing your Life Cover policy into trust can also help to limit the effects of inheritance tax on your estate because the payout would no longer form part of the estate.
Having your policy written into trust can normally be done at no extra charge as long as you include it on the application of the policy itself.
THE FINANCIAL CONDUCT AUTHORITY DOES NOT REGULATE TRUSTS OR INHERITANCE TAX PLANNING