Lauren Lewthwaite Last Updated On: March 12, 2024

Understanding the Cost and Coverage of Dependent Life Insurance

No one wants to think about needing life insurance for a spouse or child, but the fact is facing the difficult prospect of life insurance for dependents now can provide you with security and priceless peace of mind. 

Life insurance for dependents is insurance that would be paid out to you if one of your dependents passed away. Dependents are typically your children and spouse; they’re people who you support financially. They’re also, often, the most important people in your life, so it’s understandable that you wouldn’t want to confront the possibility of life without them. 

But it’s just a possibility, and in the unlikely event it becomes a reality, you will be relieved you looked into this type of life insurance when you did. 

What is Life Insurance for Dependents?

Life insurance for dependents is an add-on to your main insurance policy that typically provides less coverage than the main insured person on the policy would receive. Coverage for dependents can be added to either an individual policy or a group plan.

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Why You Might Choose Life Insurance for Dependents?

Whole life insurance is generally to help make up for lost income in the case of an unexpected death, dependents can also receive life insurance. After all, there are still financial implications to the sudden death of a dependent like a spouse or a child. 

While dealing with the devastating emotional aftermath of such an event, it can be incredibly helpful to receive assistance in the form of life insurance for expenses like funeral costs, hospital bills, etc. 

In other words, life insurance for dependents is something you don’t want to think about until you wish you had.

Who Qualifies as a Dependent?

Dependents are those who rely on you for financial support, which is most commonly your spouse and children. Your policy will lay out the exact terms for qualifying as a dependent, but as long as they qualify, they can be added to your life insurance policy. 

Most children are considered to be dependents until a specified age, which is usually no older than 26. At that point, their dependent life insurance would expire. 

Your spouse or common-law partner would qualify as your dependent, but other adult dependents are a little more complicated to qualify. These dependents can be elderly parents or domestic partners, but you’ll likely need to show that they live with you, are unmarried, and are directly financially dependent on you, in addition to any other criteria that your policy lists. 

Because it’s not common to have adult dependents on your life insurance policy other than your spouse, it can take extra work to qualify them for dependents life insurance–but it can be done. 

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How to Get Life Insurance for Dependents?

Your insurance policy will lay out the terms for qualifying dependents. As long as they meet the criteria, getting spouses and children added to the policy isn’t overly complex. You’ll most likely need to provide evidence of insurability to the provider, which are general medical and health questions for them to assess the dependent’s insurability and risk level. 

The rates for purchasing life insurance for your spouse are typically higher than for your children because adults are considered higher risk than children. Adults are older and they engage in unhealthy lifestyle choices than kids, like drinking and smoking. 

You can choose to purchase life insurance just for your spouse, just for your children, or for all dependents, but you generally can’t purchase insurance for just one child if you have multiple.  

Note that military dependent life insurance is different from standard policies. If you’re on active duty in the military, you and your dependents likely qualify for life insurance through Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance. One of the benefits is free life insurance for your children (as long as they’re dependents).

Voluntary Dependent Life Insurance

Voluntary dependent life insurance refers to coverage that comes with an employer’s group plan, and often at a reduced rate. You can choose to add your dependents to the life insurance you receive. There are often restrictions as to when you can enroll and when the policy takes effect. 

Another thing: the premiums for voluntary dependent life insurance through your employer are usually taken directly from your paycheck, making it affordable and easy to pay for your coverage.

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Coverage for Dependent Life Insurance

As mentioned, life insurance for dependents is usually added to your existing life insurance policy. The coverage they receive is often less than the main insured person but the exacts will depend on each specific policy and the coverage you purchase. 

Every plan specifies a maximum amount a dependent can be covered for, and this is of course affected by the amount of coverage purchased for yourself. 

The maximum coverage usually ranges from 50% to 100% of what you’re covered for yourself. The maximum amounts for spouses are usually higher than those for children. 

Choosing Life Insurance for Dependents

Whether or not you choose to purchase life insurance for your dependents is completely up to you. Many families choose it for the emotional and financial security it offers should something terrible happen, because finances are the last thing you want to be concerned with at a time like that. 

Alternatively, many families purchase just dependent spouse life insurance. 

Being prepared for the unexpected is what’s most important, and while it’s undeniably incredibly difficult, thinking about what would happen in the case of a dependent’s passing will help you be more prepared. For example, securing life insurance for a non-working spouse can help pay for sudden childcare and help around the house while you adjust. 

Life insurance for dependents is often very low in cost to add on to an existing plan, so it can make sense for many families and the peace of mind is worth every cent. 

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Dependent life insurance is supplementary coverage in case of the death for those considered your dependents, which are usually your spouse and children. Should they pass away, you’ll receive a payout as the beneficiary.
A dependent is someone you support financially, who is unmarried (aside from your spouse), and that lives with you. It’s most commonly your spouse or common-law partner, your children (including biological, adopted, or stepchildren), and can sometimes include other adult dependents like parents. Your policy will lay out exactly who can qualify as a dependent and how.
Even if a spouse doesn’t earn an income, they may provide invaluable support in the household such as child care and keeping the home. Losing this support in the event of a death could be both financially and emotionally devastating, and dependent life insurance can help. Many families skip life insurance for children as they’re less of a risk, but it can help cover the costs of a funeral or outstanding hospital bills so it can be worth the purchase.


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