Guide to Life Cover

Life insurance is all about protecting the people you care about. It is designed to pay out a set amount of money if you die, helping families cope financially. 

Level Term Life Insurance

Also known as ‘level term insurance’, these life insurance policies pay out a cash sum if you die within a set number of years, in other words the ‘term’ of the policy. The cash sum remains the same throughout the life of the plan and you specify the required amount based on your needs. Hence the name ‘level term’ life insurance.  

These plans are often used to help pay off interest only mortgages and loans or provide financial protection for the family over a fixed number of years, should the unthinkable happen.

Some ‘term life insurance policies’ may offer a ‘low start’ option. You choose a low monthly premium when you start the life insurance policy but this will increase over the term of the plan to reflect the increased risks you face as you get older.  If you are considering this life cover option, make sure you are happy with the increase in future monthly costs.

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Mortgage Decreasing Term Life Insurance

Also known as ‘decreasing life insurance’ or just 'mortgage life insurance', these life cover plans still pay out a cash sum if you die within a set number of years but the amount paid out reduces over time.  


As the amount paid out decreases each year throughout the term of the life cover, these plans do tend to be cheaper and are typically used for debts that reduce over time such as repayment mortgages.  

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Whole of Life Insurance 

Whole of Life Insurance plans pay out a set amount of money when you die, regardless of when that is. Basically as long as you continue to pay your monthly premiums, the cash sum will be paid out. 


As you would expect, because of the certainty that a whole of life insurance policy will pay out when you die, they do tend to be more expensive compared to term life insurance, which will only pay out if you die within a certain time frame.


These life cover plans are used to leave a guaranteed cash sum to family or friends and are used as a way of reducing inheritance tax if written into trust. As with most life insurance plans, they are fully underwritten, which means that there will be a set of health questions to answer and depending on your age and lifestyle you may need to have a medical.

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Over 50 Plan


If you are over 50, you may want to consider a Guaranteed Over 50 Life Insurance Plan, especially if you have been rejected for other life insurance plans due to medical reasons.

Unlike other whole of life insurance plans, you are guaranteed to be accepted without the need of a medical but for this reason cover levels do tend to be lower.  In addition you’re not covered for the first one or two years depending on the insurer but if you do die during this period, your premiums would be refunded.

By choosing either the amount you want to pay on a monthly basis or the level of cover you require, the plan is guaranteed to pay out when you die, as long as you continue to pay your premiums.  Depending on the life insurance provider, premiums are payable either to your 90th birthday or until you die so there is a chance you may pay more in then the plan pays out.

For more information or to compare quotes and see what cover is available go to our Over 50s Life Insurance section.

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Critical Illness Cover - an additional option

Some life insurance cover may give you the option to select Critical illness. This is an insurance plan that pays out a tax free sum of money if you are diagnosed with a serious illness. The plan will only pay out for an illness listed in the cover, which typically includes:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Certain types of cancer
  • Multiple sclerosis

The illnesses do vary depending on the provider so it is worth checking the policy conditions. You won’t be covered for any pre-existing conditions and there may be an initial exclusion period when you will be unable to claim.  

Money paid out can be used to pay off mortgages or outstanding debts, help provide financial protection for families if you have to give up work or need to make changes to your home as a result of the illness.

Critical illness may be worth considering, especially if you are concerned about a certain illness but it will increase the cost of your life insurance cover so make sure you are comfortable with the monthly payments.

Life Insurance for Couples

If you are looking at life insurance for you and your partner, don’t naturally assume that buying ‘joint life insurance’ is the best option

The following 3 steps should help you decide:

Step 1 - Consider your plan options: 

-  Joint life insurance: provides cover for both but usually only pays out when the first person dies. Once it has paid out the policy will cease.  
-  Two individual life insurance policies: provides life cover for both of you but will be a more expensive option.

Step 2 – Think about your requirements:

-  How much can you afford on a monthly basis?
-  Do both of you need the same level of life cover or would two separate life insurance policies for different amounts be sufficient and cheaper?
-  Is it ok if the surviving partner is left uncovered? 

- Are there dependants that will still need protection?

Step 3 – Shop around

-  Compare life insurance quotes for joint life insurance and 2 single plans to see how much they cost and level of cover provided

Our Life insurance comparison table will help you get quotes and compare life insurance with some of the leading life insurance providers in just a few minutes. Just click on the ‘get a quote’ button, answer a few questions and we’ll do the rest.

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