Do you need life insurance if you have death in service cover? Read our guide to learn more about the differences between death in service and life insurance and find the best option for you
If you have a death in service benefit with your job or your employer is offering you death in service, you may wonder whether or not you still need life insurance in the future. We explain what death in service cover is and how it differs from life insurance, so you can get the information you need to plan your financial future.
What is death in service benefit?
As part of an employer’s benefits package you might get death in service, which is like life insurance but has many key differences.
In summary, if you die while working for your employer your death in service benefit will pay out a lump sum. Like life insurance you would use your death in service benefit to protect your family and loved ones after you die so they can continue paying the bills and keeping up with financial commitments that your income might have otherwise been able to cover.
However, the money can’t be assigned directly to pay for a mortgage, and in some cases it will be paid into a discretionary trust, meaning you will not necessarily have a say in who the money gets paid to.
Death in service benefits usually pay between two times to as much as four times your salary upon your death, but there are some drawbacks to death in service cover.
If you are no longer on the payroll at your company then you lose your death in service benefit. You have to have been employed by the company and on the payroll at the time of your death for the benefit to come into effect.
With some death in service policies you will need to be part of the company pension scheme, so as well as being on the payroll you will need to be an active member of the pension scheme if the death in service benefit requires it.
Do I need life insurance if I have death in service cover?
If you have death in service as a benefit from your job then you may ask yourself whether or not you actually need to invest in life insurance.
Death in service cover usually comes as an added benefit that requires no extra input or payment from you aside from continuing to work for the employer who provides it. Meanwhile, life insurance comes with a monthly or annual premium.
But it’s not all about the cost. You should consider the practicalities, such as the payout received and ask yourself if your family and loved ones will still be able to keep up with your financial commitments after you die.
Death in service benefits can pay between two and four times your salary depending on the scheme, so if your salary is, say, £50,000 per annum, your family could receive a payout of somewhere between £100,000 and £200,000.
It is then worth looking at how much all of your financial commitments are when they are all added up together, and check if your family would still be able to manage under the worst case scenario.
For example, say you have a mortgage with 25 years of payments left to make, and you die five years later while working at a company that provided you with a death in service benefit. Would that pay out be enough to cover the remaining 20 years of mortgage payments?
Credit card bills and mortgage payments are not the only financial commitments your family may need to keep up with. Funeral costs are also a factor and other admin costs could come up when dealing with your death.
Before you decide if you need life insurance or not, calculate how much it would cost if you died, and at what stage. If you died later in life when most of your debts have been paid off, the cost might be lower than if you died young. But it’s vital to look at the worst case scenario first to be best prepared.
Should I get life insurance or death in service?
If you have financial obligations that could remain even after you die, such as a mortgage, then some kind of cover like life insurance could be crucial to your family.
While death in service is a really useful benefit when working for a company, it is unable to cover every circumstance or deliver in the same way that life insurance does.
For your family to be adequately covered after your death, your payout should usually be much higher than even four times your salary. Some financial advisers put the ideal payout figure at around eight to ten times your salary.
Death in service cover can be quite inflexible, prohibiting you from assigning it directly to a mortgage and preventing you from choosing your beneficiaries.
There is greater flexibility and coverage available with life insurance, but obviously this comes at a price, whereas death in service is an employer benefit.
In truth though, it’s not simply about choosing one or the other. If you have death in service, then that’s a very good thing, but if you want to be covered better, then life insurance is the better option.
However, you can effectively “top up” your death in service cover by taking out the amount of life insurance you will need to make it a fully covered plan. If you have calculated how much your family would need to cover your financial commitments after you die, then you can take out just enough life insurance.
The idea is that when you combine it with death in service it should work out cheaper than taking out a full life insurance plan but cover you far more than death in service alone will.
With life insurance you can assign a payout specifically to a mortgage or a particular loan and decide who in your family will get the money. Also, if you lose your job your life insurance remains in place as it’s not tied to your work. That means if you lose your death in service benefit as a result of changing jobs, retiring, or losing your job, then at least you will still be covered with life insurance.
There are also several types of life insurance, such as decreasing term (which lowers the premiums and the payout as you get nearer to the end of the insurance policy term), level term (which pays the same if you die any time during the term) and whole of life (which pays out whenever you die).
You can use our comparison tables to find an insurance policy suitable for you and to work alongside your death in service benefit.
- Cheap Life Insurance Where can you find cheap life insurance, and what should you look out for?
- Life Insurance Tips Read our top tips for picking the right life insurance policy
- Level Term Life Insurance Term life policies cover a fixed period of time, but how do they work?