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A Complete Guide to Buying Life Insurance


Whilst it can be distressing to think about life after death, it’s inevitable and you have to ask yourself, if I were to do is my family going to be protected financially? The grievous reality is that one in 29 children lose a parent before they grow up. Along with the sorrow and misery of losing a parent, they also suffer from a loss of income. The best way to protect your family’s finances if the worst were to happen is to take out a life insurance policy. Our complete guide to buying life insurance will make it easier for you to decide if you need life cover, how much cover you need, and how long you need insurance.

Benefits of life insurance

  • Your dependents won’t have to pay income tax on the proceeds of your life insurance policy
  • Covers outstanding debts so your loved ones don’t have to worry
  • Gives you peace of mind that your family are financially secure when you pass away
  • Plenty of policies to choose from

Compare life insurance providers

When it comes to comparing life insurance providers, many people focus on the cheapest price, disregarding the quality of policies. Compare by Review understand that a cheap life insurance policy isn’t necessarily the best life insurance policy and that’s why we’ve ranked providers exclusively on customer experience and product quality. We take into account life insurance reviews from genuine customers so you can confidently buy a policy from an insurer that will be there for you when you need them most.

We’re on a mission to change the insurance buying journey. Unlike traditional comparison sites that encourage you to buy the cheapest policy, we recommend that you read life insurance reviews before purchasing a policy so that you can get an idea of the quality of service that different insurers offer. Our table below highlights the best life insurance companies based on product quality and level of service.

Best life insurance providers

Beagle Street

Ranked 1 of 10

Life Insurance providers

Beagle Street


Ranked 2 of 10

Life Insurance providers


Royal London

Ranked 3 of 10

Life Insurance providers

Royal London

Should I get life insurance?

Life cover isn’t a necessity but it reduces the financial stress and worry of your loved ones in the event of your death. It will also give you peace of mind knowing that when you’re gone, your family will have money put aside to cover your outstanding debt or bills.

Before you take out a policy, you should consider your reasons for buying life insurance. You might consider taking out life cover because you’ve got a mortgage, you’re starting a family, you want to leave an inheritance to your loved ones or you want to ensure your funeral costs are covered when you die.

How much life insurance cover do I need?

In order to determine how much life cover you need, you need to work out how many debts you currently have that would need repaying, such as a mortgage, credit cards or personal loans. You’ll also want to consider how much money your partner and children would need in order to maintain their lifestyle if you die.

How long do I need life insurance for?

The length of cover you have is dependant on the type of policy you take out. You can get life insurance policies that last for a fixed period or your whole life. For example, you can take out a decreasing term life insurance policy where the payout amount decreases as your loan amount decreases. This type of policy is taken out for a fixed number of years and you’ll no longer be covered when the term length ends. An alternative to decreasing term life insurance is level term life insurance. It works in the same way in that you pay a monthly premium for a fixed number of years, however, the payout amount remains the same throughout the policy. If you want to be covered for your entire life, you should consider a whole of life insurance policy. It’s typically the most expensive life insurance cover but your loved ones are guaranteed a payout in the event of your death.

If you have a mortgage and it has 20 years left on it, you might want to take out cover with a term length of 20 years so you can be certain that when you die, the mortgage is completely paid off. But if you want to leave a lump sum for your family, you’ll want to take out cover for longer.

Can I get life insurance with my partner?

Yes – you can take out a joint life insurance policy that covers both you and your partner. However, joint policies only payout on the first death. After the first death, the survivor will no longer be covered and the policy will come to an end.

How much does the best life insurance cost?

The cost of life cover is dependant on a variety of things including your age, health, lifestyle, length of term and the type of cover you take out. Decreasing term life insurance is typically the cheapest type of life insurance because the payout lessens over time. Whole of life insurance is normally the most expensive as there’s no term length attached to the policy. You need to consider more than just the price when taking out a life insurance policy. Cheap life insurance isn’t necessarily the best life insurance. When taking out a policy, you need to consider what the right level of cover is for you and how long you want to be covered for.

When compiling our comparison table of the best life insurance providers, we took a look at the cost of life insurance policies so you can order our table on the cheapest quotes. However, Compare by Review was founded on the belief that insurance shouldn’t be bought on price alone, it’s more important to compare life insurance based on customers real experiences so you can purchase a life insurance policy from a provider that cares.

Do you have to pay tax on life insurance payouts?

Your dependants won’t have to pay any income tax on a life insurance payout. However, the payout does count towards you estates value so they may have to pay inheritance tax. If you decide to get your policy written into a trust, the insurance pays out directly to your dependants so it won’t become part of your estate. Therefore, it avoids inheritance tax and speeds up the payout. You can write your policy into a trust at the point of taking it out, it’s simple to do and most policies include the option directly at no extra charge.

What types of policies can I get?

  • Level term life insurance– pays out a lump sum to your loved ones and the amount remains the same whether you’re near the start or end of your policy.
  • Decreasing term life insurance– the payout your loved ones receive decreases by an agreed amount each year.
  • Whole of life insurance– this policy lasts your entire life. There’s no fixed time frame and your family is guaranteed a payout.
  • Joint life insurance– insures two people. When one policyholder dies, the survivor will be paid a lump sum and the policy will end.
  • Over 50s life insurance – for people aged 50-85. You don’t have to submit any medical records or do any health checks to get a policy.
  • Family income benefit– also known as family life insurance, pays out a regular income rather than a lump sum to your family in the event of your death.
  • Critical illness cover– pays out a lump sum if you suffer from a serious illness or injury that’s listed on your policy.

You might have also heard of mortgage life insurance, also known as mortgage protection or mortgage assurance. As the name suggests, mortgage life insurance pays out if you pass away before you’ve finished paying off your mortgage, so that your spouse or children aren’t left to pick up the monthly repayments. You can take out mortgage protection as decreasing term life insurance or level term life insurance.

Things to consider

Do you have any cover through work?

Many employees offer a ‘death-in-service’ benefit which pays out a lump sum if you die. Typically it’s worth four times the amount of your salary but this can vary. This may be enough cover if you don’t have many debts or have few dependants, but you may want to take out life insurance alongside it.

Consider getting the policy written into a trust

If your life insurance policy is written into a trust, the payout won’t become part of your estate so your dependants won’t have to pay any inheritance tax on it. Also, they won’t have to wait for your estate to be divided up to get the payout.

Be completely truthful when you apply

When applying for a life insurance policy, make sure you read the questions thoroughly and answer honestly. If you make a mistake or aren’t truthful with your answers, the insurer could claim ‘non-disclosure’ to avoid a payout.

Get the best amount of cover for you

Get the full amount of cover you need so that your loved ones can continue their lifestyle once you’re gone.

Life insurance guides