All kinds of places sell life insurance policies, including banks, insurers, mortgage lenders, and specialist protection providers, and it’s worth doing plenty of research so you can be certain you’ve found the best option for you.

The cost of life insurance depends on a few different factors, such as your age and health and the type of policy you want, but that doesn’t mean that the first offer you receive is as good as it’s going to get.

As with any kind of financial product, it pays to shop around and see the choices available to you, and to seek advice if you need help deciding which policy is right for you.

What is life insurance?

Life insurance is a product offered by insurance providers. Basically, you agree to pay a certain amount of money every month (your premiums) either for a specific term or for the rest of your life. If you die during the term of your cover then your family or beneficiaries will receive a lump sum payout. They can decide what to spend this money on, and it is often put towards funeral costs, paying off a mortgage, education costs, or to cover general living expenses.

The premiums you pay for life insurance can vary quite considerably depending on your circumstances and needs. Insurers will typically factor in:

  • Your age
  • Your health and medical history
  • Your lifestyle and hobbies
  • Whether you smoke
  • The length of the policy
  • The desired payout.

Shopping around is recommended if you’re thinking of getting life insurance. The older you are or the more cover you require, the more likely you’ll need to undergo a medical examination, or will be asked further questions before you’re offered cover.

Before looking for a policy, you should make sure that you don’t already have cover through your workplace. Read our article Am I protected financially? to find out more.

Where should I get life insurance?

There’s no one right answer to this question – the best place to find life insurance will vary depending on what your circumstances are and what kind of cover you need. This is why it pays to be thorough in your search and compare quotes from multiple providers, or to get a life insurance broker to do this on your behalf.

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Can I buy life insurance if I’m ill or disabled?

Yes, but you might find that policies are expensive, or include exclusions/particular conditions to reflect any increased chances of you making a claim. The amount you will pay for a policy depends on factors such as your illness or disability’s impact on your life expectancy, and how much it affects your everyday life. Bear in mind that insurers are legally obliged to explain if there are special conditions included in the policy for your particular circumstances.

It’s worth seeking the help of a specialist insurance broker if you’re ill or disabled and want to buy life insurance, as they will be able to search the market for the most suitable policy for your needs. Certain charities may also be able to help. For example, Macmillan Cancer Support provides guidance for people with cancer on where to buy life insurance.

If you develop an illness or disability while you are a policyholder you aren’t obliged to let your insurer know unless the policy includes a condition stating that you must. In this case, don’t cancel an existing policy, as having a ‘pre-existing condition’ could mean you are unable to get a new one with the same terms and conditions.

A few things to keep in mind...

It’s really important to be honest in your answers to the questions on your application for life insurance, otherwise the policy could be invalidated and the payout your loved ones receive could be affected.

You should also take care to read the terms of any policy thoroughly so you know exactly what you’re getting into, and avoid being caught out by any small print. Some policies might exclude a claim made by your loved ones if you die under certain circumstances, so it helps to know the ins and outs.

Once you’ve bought an insurance policy you have a right to change your mind within 30 days and receive a full refund.

You can find out more about the different kinds of life insurance that are available in our article Different types of life insurance explained, and why having cover is important in our guide to Why life insurance matters.

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