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Difference Between Life Cover and Joint Life Cover

Updated On Aug 26, 2021

A single life insurance policy covers one person only and pays out the chosen amount of cover if that person dies during the length of the policy. If a couple holds two single policies and one partner dies, then the surviving partner still has their own policy. Single life policies can be relevant to you as a couple, despite the name, and dependent on your individual circumstances.

A 'joint' life insurance policy covers two lives, which sounds obvious but it’s important to note that the cover usually operates on a 'first death' basis. This means the chosen amount of cover is paid out if the first person dies, during the length of the policy, after which the policy would end. This is a key point about joint life insurance: the policy pays out only once, leaving the surviving partner without cover under that policy.

Difference Between Life Cover And Joint Life Cover

  • Consider Your Needs

If you have loved ones who depend on you financially you may have a need for life insurance. Life insurance can be set up on a single life or joint life basis where an insurable interest exists between the applicants. When deciding which of these options is right for you, take stock of your present needs and, though it’s not nice to think about, prepare for worst-case scenarios. 

  • Cover

Joint life policies could be a good choice if you both need the same level of cover for the same length of time e.g. to cover a joint mortgage where the cash sum only needs to be paid once. Both policy holders would receive the same level of cover under a joint life policy, so if you have different protection needs, this may leave one partner with too much or too little protection. Single life could be considered if there are differences in the level of cover that you both need, how long you need cover for or whether you want the cash sum paid twice should you both pass away during the length of the policy.  

Must read: Common Exclusions Under Life Insurance Riders    

  • Budget

A joint life insurance policy can be cheaper than two single policies designed to provide the same amount of cover over the same period of time. However, a joint life policy pays out only once, leaving the surviving partner without cover under that policy, whereas single life insurance policies can offer more protection because each partner has individual cover. 

  • The Future

Your needs may change in the future, it may be a good idea to review your cover from time to time in order to make sure that you have the correct level of protection in place. If a relationship breaks down, it's possible that an insurance provider would not be able to divide a joint life policy into two single policies. If you claimed against a joint life policy, the surviving person would be left without life cover under that policy. Applying for life insurance later in life can be expensive because premiums increase with age. If health deteriorates it may become more difficult to obtain cover.


Even though you are in a relationship, it doesn’t automatically mean that you have the same protection shortfalls.  Whether joint or single life policies are suitable will depend on what each of you wants to protect and for how long each of you want the cover to last.  Depending on individual circumstances, this could make a joint life policy, single life policies or a combination of both the right choice for you. 

Also Read: Important Benefits Of Life Insurance Renewal Process

Disclaimer: This article is issued in the general public interest and meant for general information purposes only. Readers are advised not to rely on the contents of the article as conclusive in nature and should research further or consult an expert in this regard.  

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