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Life insurance* was originally exclusively death insurance. It is still primarily taken out to provide benefit on death but in recent decades life companies have introduced choice in both the length of term of policies, the mix of protection with a saving element (a unit linked policy) and the type of protection provided. A policy may also have a critical illness option which provides for payout other than in a death situation.

(*we use the common usage term insurance rather than assurance throughout)

Mortgage Protection is one of the most common forms of life insurance today as lenders require cover as a condition of mortgage advances. The objective of a policy is to repay the outstanding balance of your mortgage should you die or become seriously ill.The lump sum death benefit decreases over time as the mortgage principal is reduced.

If you are dealing directly with a mortgage lender, you will invariably be offered its own product. However, the Consumer Credit Act gives you the freedom to shop around.

Critical Illness protection has also become a popular insurance for individuals who would suffer serious financial hardship if they were unable to work for extended periods.

How much cover do you need?

A simple measure is the required lump sum to pay off a mortgage coupled with the number of year’s worth of your annual income your dependents will need to keep them financially comfortable, for as long as necessary.

The simplest way is to multiply your income by the total number of years you think your family will need support.

The basic rule about buying life insurance is to go for the cheapest deal.

Tax Relief On Life Cover for Self-Employed

The Finance Act 2001 provides that self-employed persons can claim total life and pensions cover relief up to the limits of 15-30% of net relevant earnings as per the chart:

Age % of Earnings*
Under 30 15
30-39 20
40-49 25
50 and over 30
* ie earnings from self-employment or non-pensionable employment after deducting any losses or capital allowance

The life cover/pension contribution breakdown, subject to the limits, is up to the individual.

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