Life changes, (so can your life insurance)

When it comes to life insurance you determine the pay out amount, term length and policy type at the point of application.

But, as we know things in life change, so it's important to review your policy regularly to make sure it still meets your needs.

But are you able to change your existing life insurance if your personal circumstances change?

Can you change your life insurance policy?

Some insurers now enable you to change your policy if your circumstances change.

This is called a special events clause, however, depending on the insurer, it can also be referred to as a guaranteed insurability option or policy increase option.

Please note: some life insurance policies don't allow you to make any changes.

Why may you need to change your life insurance?

There are many reasons why you may need to change your life insurance policy.

Commons reasons from our experience at Reassured include:

  • Having a child
  • Moving house/increasing your mortgage
  • Getting married or entering into a civil partnership
  • Getting divorced or separated
  • Securing a new job

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Calculate how much life insurance you may need by filling in the costs you’d like your policy to cover.

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£137,934 is the estimated mortgage debt per household in the UK.

The purchase of a home is likely to be the largest financial commitment any of us will make in our lifetime. Your life insurance should cover your remaining mortgage balance to allow your loved ones to stay in the family home should anything happen to you.

Source: Moneynerd.co.uk

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The average monthly household budget in the UK is £2,548 (that’s £30,576 per year), which is spent on transport, food & drink, utilities (gas, electricity, water etc), clothing, council tax and leisure activities.

With energy prices hitting a record high and the cost of living rising sharply in the UK, you may wish to factor in utility bills and family living expenses into your cover.

Source: Nimblefins.co.uk

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The average personal debt of UK adults has risen to £34,566 (not including mortgage debt), with credit cards, personal loans and overdrafts being the most common forms of debt.

Factoring in any debts into your life insurance cover means that, if they need to be paid back from your estate after your passing, your loved ones won’t miss out financially.

Source: Money.co.uk

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According to SunLife, the average cost of a funeral in the UK is £3,953 (with the overall cost of dying at £9,200).

Funeral costs have increased by 116% since 2004 and are a significant cost which should be factored into the amount of life insurance you secure.

Source: SunLife.co.uk

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When factoring in cover for your children, you may wish to calculate the amount based on how long it is until they reach financial independence.

This could include childcare (£7,000 per year for part-time care), school expenses (£1,519 per school year for uniforms, lunches, stationary etc), as well as an additional sum for further education (this could be a contribution of up to £5,000 per year).

Sources: Daynurseries.co.uk, Primarytimes.co.uk & Savethestudent.org

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2 in 5 adults say they are relying on an inheritance to fund their retirement.

Factoring in an inheritance to your sum assured could allow loved ones to live a more financially comfortable life. Alternatively, you could leave a cash gift to a charity of your choosing.

Source: Moneyage.co.uk

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If you’re lucky enough to have your own savings or are part of the 30% of UK residents who already have a life insurance policy in place, this can provide financial protection for loved ones.

By entering your current cover, savings or death in service amount you can reduce the sum assured you require.

Source: Scottishbusinessnews.net

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How you can change your policy

You can change your life insurance policy in relation to:

  • The cover amount (sum assured)
  • The beneficiaries of your policy
  • Some insurers allow you to divide a joint policy

How much additional cover can you secure?

It's common for you to be able to take out up to 50% of the original cover amount, up to £200,000.

Legal & General[1], for example, allow you to make three special events changes, (but just once for marriages and civil partnerships).

When you change your cover amount, either up or down, your monthly premiums will change accordingly.

Depending on your policy, age and insurer you may need to answer further medical questions to secure the additional cover.

Can you change your policy term?

No. Unfortunately, you would have to take out a new policy if you needed to extend the length of your cover.

Remember, if you've had a child you'll likely be financially responsible for them for at very least the next 18 years.

And when you consider the average cost of raising a child to 18 is £157,562[2] it's clear financial protection would be needed if you were no longer around.

Whatsmore, if you were to buy a bigger house to accommodate your growing family, lengthening your mortgage term, you'll also need to extend your life insurance.

Changing the beneficiaries of your life insurance

When you take out life insurance, any pay out forms part of your estate after you're gone, along with your property and any savings.

Unless you write your life insurance in trust...

Writing your life insurance in trust means the proceeds don't form part of your estate, resulting in 3 key benefits:

  • Avoid or minimise 40% inheritance tax
  • Avoid the probate process (for a faster life insurance pay out)
  • Greater control of your policy, (who receives the money and when)

However, what if you need to change the beneficiaries of your policy. Perhaps you've got remarried or had more children

Well, it depends...

If you have an absolute trust (sometimes known as a bare or fixed trust) these, unfortunately, can't be changed.

However, if you write your policy into a flexible or discretionary trust the named beneficiaries can be amended at the discretion of the trustee/s.

For more information please see our life insurance in trust page.

If you haven't written your life insurance in trust and want to change your beneficiaries you'll need to amend your will.

If you don't have a will then the pay out by default will usually go to your spouse and/or children.

Joint life insurance

Some insurers, such as Aviva and Legal & General allow you to split a joint policy if you become divorced.

This could negate the need to take out a new life insurance policy.

However, you'll need to establish whether this divided policy meets your new needs.

Can I take out more than one life insurance policy?

Yes, you can take out multiple policies, although this will obviously mean paying multiple premiums.

So, if your current insurer doesn't allow you to make changes you have the option of an additional 'top-up' policy.

For example, maybe you took out a £100,000 decreasing term policy when you purchased your first property.

However, since then you've got married, moved house and had a child. As a result, your existing policy no longer meets your needs.

You could then either take out a level term policy to bridge the coverage gap or perhaps look at a family income benefit policy to help protect future living costs.

Maybe you want to look into critical illness cover to help protect your family if you're too ill to work.

Cancelling your life insurance policy

On occasions, it may be more beneficial to cancel your no longer suitable policy and take out a new policy.

However, one major factor to be aware of is your age...

If substantially older than when you took out your current policy, your premiums could be significantly higher.

In this scenario, it may make more sense to add an additional 'top-up' policy.

Why not compare quotes (for free) and see if we can save you money each month on your premiums.

Changing your personal details on a policy

When you move home, change your contact details or name you'll need to update your policy.

To do this, you'll need to contact your insurer directly to make these amendments.

If you fall ill

If you fall ill you don't need to change your policy, as the illness didn't knowingly exist at the point of application.

You can still expect your loved ones to receive a pay out after you're gone.

If your illness is terminal and you're given less than 12 months to live, most policies will now pay out before your passing.

These proceeds can help to ensure you're able to get all your finances in order and offer peace of mind.

Comparing quotes to save money on your premiums

We hope this article has helped answer some of your questions regarding changing life insurance.

If you're requiring additional life insurance or critical illness cover we're here to help.

We'll compare some of the leading UK insurers, providing you with our best quotes to choose from.

We can also help you with the application process and write your policy in trust, avoiding/minimising 40% inheritance tax, if offered by your provider.

And the best bit is comparing quotes through our award-winning life insurance broker service is completely free.

Why not get in touch and secure your loved ones financial future?

Sources:

[1] https://www.legalandgeneral.com/life-cover/life-insurance/additional-benefits/making-changes-to-your-policy/

[2] https://cpag.org.uk/sites/default/files/files/policypost/Cost_of_a_child_2022.pdf

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