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Life Insurance – The Basics

There usually comes a point in most people’s lives where life insurance becomes an important consideration.

Certain lifestyle changes which most people encounter such as getting married, having children or buying a house tend to make people think about protecting the people closest to them if they are no longer around. That’s exactly what Life Insurance does.

A Life Insurance policy pays a tax free lump sum cash payment ‘the Death Benefit’, if you were to die within a certain timeframe ‘the Term’.

Typically, if you were to die, it’s used to…

  • Pay off your mortgage
  • Pay off any significant loans or credit cards
  • Provide your family with an income for as long as they need it
  • Pay for education costs
  • Cover funeral expenses

So, if you’ve had these thoughts you’re certainly not the first! But how much cover should you have and what for? How long should you have the cover for? In order to get your free quote, just have the following basic information to hand…

  • How much do you owe on your mortgage?
  • Is it a repayment mortgage?
  • How long has your mortgage left to run?
  • How much income would your family need if you were no longer around?
  • When do you expect your children will become financially indpendent?

It is common for someone to have more than one policy…

  • One to pay off the mortgage
  • Another to prodive an income or capital for the family
What is Life Insurance?

Life Insurance policies provide financial protection to you and/or your dependants should the worst happen.

What is Term Assurance?

Term Assurance typically pays a one off lump sum if you were to die within the term of the contract. If you lived beyond the term, the policy would be worth nothing and you would get nothing back. The two most common types are Level Term Assurance and Decreasing Term Assurance.

What is Level Term Assuarnce?

Level term Assurance offers a level amount of cover in return for a level premium throughout the term of the contract. So, if you started £100,000 of cover for 20 years and then died anytime in the next 20 years, the payment to your dependants would be £100,000.

What is Decreasing Term Assurance?

Decreasing Term Assurance, often referred to as Mortgage Life Insurance or Mortgage Protection offers a decreasing amount of cover in return for a level premium. It’s designed to meet the needs of individuals with a decreasing liability such as a repayment mortgage.

What is Family Income Benefit?

Family Income Benefit pays your dependants a regular income if you were to die within the term of the plan. It’s usually taken out to cover living expenses or replace the breadwinner’s income until your dependants become financially independant. If a sucessful claim is made, the income will continue until the end of the term.

What is Critical Illness Cover?

Critical Illness Cover pays a one off lump sum on the diagnosis of a specified illness, regardless of whether you’re able to work or not. Typically, they also pay the lump sum if you become permanently totally disabled. This can be added to most Life Insurance policies when you apply.

Your Age

Under 18s If you’re under 18 your parents probably look after you, so you don’t really need protection.

Late teens to mid-20s As you become an adult you might start to provide for yourself, so protection needs tend to start then.

Mid-20s to early-40s You are likely to face your greatest protection needs at this stage…

Mid-40s As you reach your mid-40s, your children might be approaching financial independence and protection needs may shift away from them and towards yourself and your spouse or partner.

50’s As you move into you 50s, your needs tend to move away from protection. That said, we’re all living longer so you may still need cover!

Your Dependants

The number and age of dependants is one of the most important factors governing your Life Insurance needs. Clearly, the more dependants you have and the greater their need on you, the more important it is to protect them.

If you have children, your Life Insurance needs may vary…

  • It may be dificult to estimate when your children will cease to be dependent on you. They may leave school at 16 or 18, they may or may not go to university, they may stay at home longer than you expected (or wanted)!
  • You may become a single parent due to death or divorce, you would then be solely resonsible for your dependant
  • You may marry again and become responsible for 2 familes and 2 sets of children
  • Couples may have children at relatively low, or advanced, ages.

Your Income

Income will usually determine how much you can afford to spend on insurance…

  • You might have substantial protection needs but no spare income to pay for it
  • A judgement might have to be made as to the desirability of paying for protection rather than your current items of expenditure
  • If money’s tight and paying for all your protection needs is difficult, you may have to prioritise which protection needs are more important than others

Your Debts

Existing debts and future liabilities need to be taken into account when assessing your needs. These might consist of the following…


Some examples of how you might cover yourself against certain debts and future liabilities…

If you had a repayment mortgage where you owe £150,000 over the next 21 years, then a decreasing term assurance plan for 21 years would ensure your mortgage is paid off in full, if you were to die within the term

If you wanted to ensure your dependents, upon your death, receive an income until they become indepenedent, then a Family Income Benefit policy may be the right choice of cover

If you wanted to send your new-born child to private school from the age of 13 and university and wanted to insure against your premature death or serious illness, you could choose a policy that pays out the cost of school fees x 5 plus the expected cost of a year at university x 3 for the next 21 years. In this instance it may be prudent to link the plan to inflation.

To see average costs of private school and universities in the UK click on the below links…

Your Employment Status

Income will usually determine how much you can afford to spend on insurance…

  • You might have substantial protection needs but no spare income to pay for it
  • A judgement might have to be made as to the desirability of paying for protection rather than your current items of expenditure
  • If money’s tight and paying for all your protection needs is difficult, you may have to prioritise which protection needs are more important than others.

Existing Cover You May Have

Existing cover needs to be taken into account when assessing your protection needs. You wouldn’t want to pay for cover that you already have! Nor would you want to overpay for the cover you have in place. Some examples of existing cover might be…

  • Existing private insurance policies
  • Cover you receive as part of your employment contract
  • Benefits payable from private pensions
  • State benefits, such as bereavement pay or widow’s pension

It is prudent to review your existing policies on a regular basis for the following reasons…

  • Your financial circumstances may change such as increased pay, decreased mortgage debt, inheritance etc
  • You marital status may change
  • You may have your first child/more children
  • Your employment status may change
  • Your existing policies may be more expensive than new replacement policies.

Nb. You should never cancel an existing policy until you have the replacement plan in force


A good way of showing the types of cover you need is to use the concept of Life Cycles. These are described as the Vunerable Years, the Relaxed Years and the Anxious Years…

The Vunerable Years

These are the early years of marriage (or long-term relationships) and the starting of a family…

– You might have high monthly expenses and relatively low income, quite possibly just one income

– Your protection needs are likely to be higher

– If you, or your partner, dies then large amounts of capital will be required to maintain the families standard of living for a long period

– You might not have spare income to pay for cover

The Relaxed Years

Typically, as you enter your mid to late-40s you may have increased income and your dependents may be reaching financial independence…

– Protection needs for dependents therefore, reduce

The Anxious Years

These are when you enter your mid-50s onwards…

– You are probably earning more than you have before

– Your mortgage may be paid off or very small

– Your children have left home… hopefully!


– You are more likely to die or suffer illness

– Protection will be expensive as you become older


Life Insurance Common Scenarios

In this section of our website we try and show you common scenarios in everyday life where Life Insurance becomes important. Of course, our individual circumstances are always different however there are certain stages in life where the same thoughts, questions and concerns about Life Insurance come to mind.

Lifestyle Stages

Becoming a couple – where one or both of you are partially or totally reliant on the other’s income. What will happen if one income suddenly stops? Can the surviving partner continue with the standard of living they are used to? Life Insurance can protect couples against financial hardship should the worst happen.

Getting a mortgage – you owe your mortgage company a substantial amount of money, if you’re not around to pay it anymore, then your next of kin has to. This may be your partner or if your single, your parents. Life Insurance can be designed to pay off your mortgage in the event of your premature death.

Having children – all of a sudden there’s another person in the world who is totally dependent on you, being a parent is both extremely rewarding and quite worrying at the same time. Your children’s dependence on you is likely to last until they reach 22 and some of the time, a lot longer! Paying for Life Insurance now ensures the financial security of your children in the future.

Retirement – Life Insurance is usually an anxious thought at this stage; it’s more expensive and generally harder to get. This is because, unfortunately, you are statistically more likely to die. That said it’s very important that you leave your partner or family with the capital they’ll need, should you pass away.

It may be that only one of these is relevant to you at the moment; it may be that they all are. Perhaps none of them apply now but all of them will in 6 months time! Whatever the case, as you grow up and become financially independent, you are likely to experience some or all of these situations.

Dave, Debs, Danny & Daisy

To help you relate your personal circumstances to the examples used, we’ve created some characters that typify most families in the UK. Here they are…

Life Insurance ‘What ifs’

The need for Life Insurance hits home if you start asking yourself or each other some ‘what if’ questions…

What if I wasn’t around anymore?…

  • …How would the family earn an income?
  • …How would the mortgage or rent get paid?
  • …Would the kids be able to go to university or private school?
  • …How would my debts be cleared?
  • …How much would my funeral cost?

What if my partner wasn’t around anymore?…

  • …Could I afford the mortgage or rent?
  • …Could I afford university or private school for the kids?
  • …Would I need to pay for childcare?
  • …How much would childcare cost?

Life Insurance can be the answer to all these questions and concerns.

A Couple with a mortgage and dependent children

This is the most common scenario for people needing Life Insurance. A young couple that have managed to get on the property ladder, with a mortgage and young dependent children.

Dave, Debs, Danny & Daisy

Dave and Debs are both 30. They have a mortgage of £130,000 with 27 years left run. They have 2 kids, Daisy aged 3 and Danny aged 1.

Dave & Debs have been meaning to get Life Insurance for some time but just haven’t got round to it. They first thought about when Daisy was born, this was also the time they took out their mortgage. They are in good health and have now decided to get some Life Insurance.

Life Insurance for their Mortgage

The first thing the have decided to do is to make sure the mortgage is paid off in full if either of them were to die prematurely. Because they’ve got an Interest Only Mortgage (where the amount they owe stays the same throughout the term of the mortgage) they have got quotes for a Life Insurance policy that pays out a fixed amount of cash throughout the term, this is called a Level Term Assurance policy. The quote they’ve got is for £130,000 over 27 years. This only costs them £11.46pm, so they’ve taken it out.

Life Insurance to cover a mortgage is often called Mortgage Life Insurance or Mortgage Life Cover. Essentially though, it’s just a Life Insurance policy designed to pay off a mortgage. You don’t have to use it to pay off a mortgage but it’s usually a good idea.

Life Insurance for their Family

So now they’ve got enough Life Insurance to cover their mortgage they’ve realised that, if it’s affordable, a policy that protected their family’s living expenses is a good idea. They’ve worked out their annual living expenses are £18,000. They (optimistically!) expect Danny to fly the nest and become financially independent when he reaches 22, after university. He’s currently 1, so cover for the next 21 years makes sense. So by multiplying the annual expense (£12,000) by the number of years it’s needed (21y) they worked out that policy that pays £252,000 would be sufficient to protect their family. The policy only costs £18.26pm so they’ve started that policy too.

To work out how much Life Insurance you need, you can take your monthly household expenses multiply by 12 to get the annual figure, then multiply by the number of years you’ll need the cover for.

We Offer You the Cheapest Deals

  1. We search the market and get quotes from all the biggest Insurance Companies in the UK
  2. Because we get Life Insurance for such a large number of customers, the Insurance Companies we work with give us preferential rates
  3. We get paid commission by the insurers, though we actually give up a large percentage of this to ensure your premiums are reduced
  4. We specialise in Life Insurance only, this means 100% of our efforts go to getting you the best deal for your Life Insurance
  5. We are able to keep our costs down because we operate, where possible, a paperless system

Reasons to use LifeQuotes4U

Price match guarantee

We won’t be beaten on price

UK’s leading Insurance Companies

Get peace of mind in the knowledge that you’re dealing with UK’s biggest insurance companies


We donate £10 to our selected causes for every application that goes live

Less questions/paperwork

There are less questions when you apply on our site than any other Life Insurance provider in the market

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Customer Testimonials


 I have 3 amazing sons, Richard aged 6, Ashley 3 and James 1.


Last year we all had to deal with the hardest thing possible… Nick, my husband died unexpectedly having suffered a heart attack; he was only 40. 


Since then we have all stuck together and I think I can finally say that we’re coming out of the other side of a truly devastating time. 


Thankfully Nick had set up some life insurance when Richard was born; what I didn’t know is that he had 2 policies. One was a Level Term plan and the other was something called Family Income Benefit. 


I was able to pay off the mortgage with the Level Term plan as this was set up to pay £150,000 if either of us died before our mortgage was due to be paid off.


The family income benefit pays me £1,500 every month for the next 15 years.

I fully intend on going back to work when James starts school, this will help our financial situation greatly but whilst James is still young it’s nearly impossible.


I have no idea how I would have coped without the insurance Nick took out.


In 2009 my husband & I moved house. The kids had (finally!) flown the nest so we decided to move to the Lake District, where we’d always wanted to live.

We took out a mortgage of £200,000 and some life insurance to cover the amount we owed in case either of us died before we paid it off.

At the beginning of 2011 the worst happened, tragically my husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer and he died only a couple of months later.

The life insurance payout I received was like a ray of light in an otherwise heartbreaking time; it made a big difference. It enabled me to clear the mortgage straight away and meant that I didn’t need to worry about making any future payments.

Since then I’ve sold the old house & bought a beautiful little cottage; I use the cash from the payout to provide me with a small income.

I can honestly say that without the Life Insurance, I would be very worried about my future.