Ever wondered, “can you take a life insurance policy out on anyone” (like, ANYONE)? Wondering how to find out if someone took an insurance policy out on YOU? Let’s dive into this touchy subject.
Could you imagine being allowed to take out a life insurance policy on anyone you wanted?
This would mean that if they died, you would get a cash payment of some sort.
You could take one out on movie stars like Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood. You could take one out on someone in a dangerous situation, like a football player, a soldier, or a police officer.
And since they wouldn’t ever have to know – at least, you’d hope – then you could save on all of those awkward conversations…right?
It turns out that life insurance polices do not work that way.
Let’s dig further into this touchy subject by looking at what life insurance policies are, reasons someone would want to buy one on someone else, whether or not someone can take a life insurance policy out on you without you knowing, etc.
Psst: In a hurry, and you suspect someone took an insurance policy out on you without you knowing? You can request a free report (one per year) from The Medical Information Bureau (MIB), which keeps a database of life insurance applications from the last 7 years.
What is a Life Insurance Policy?
Life insurance is a type of insurance that pays out to a beneficiary upon death of the “insured” person the policy (who the policy is for), or after a certain period of time has passed.
It’s really financial protection against the loss of someone who’s passing would bring financial problems (let alone, grieving) for others.
Money can be used for things like the costs of the funeral, future educational expenses for the kids, outstanding debts, income that’s been lost, etc.
A life insurance policy is your contract with the insurance company; you pay premiums each month (don't worry if you don't have much money to get one — here's tips for getting budget life insurance), and in exchange, they hold up their side of the contract by either paying out a sum of money upon death of the insured, or paying out money at the end of a certain time period.
The two types of life insurance policies you can buy are term life insurance, and permanent life insurance (aka, whole life insurance or universal life insurance).
This guide helps explain the differences between term and whole life insurance policies.
Whether buying life insurance for yourself, or for someone else (keep reading for more info about that), this site does all the shopping around for you, and provides you quotes —> Policygenius.com.
Reasons to Buy Life Insurance on Someone Else
There are many reasons why you would want to buy life insurance on someone else.
For example, I’ve got a life insurance policy out on someone else – my husband.
We pay a $29/month premium, and have enough life insurance to pay off the mortgage + pay for part of our son’s college in the event that my husband was to die.
Look – the whole subject sucks. But if someone dies without you guys having had the discussion, then it could really throw loved one’s lives into a tailspin (on top of the grief they’re already experiencing).
Think about if you died unexpectedly next week – who would be affected, financially? Would your spouse be able to pay the bills? Would your child be able to stay in the same school or after school activities that they’re currently in?
The following can all be reasons to buy life insurance on someone else:
- The Person has Dependents: If a person has dependents – children, a spouse who stays home with children, an ex-spouse who counts on alimony/child support, etc. – then life insurance is a good idea. This is especially true in a single-income household.
- The Person is Worth a Lot to Your Company: Did you know that some employers take out life insurance policies on employees? And not just the high-ranking VPs, but also on the rest of us (these policies are called janitor’s insurance or dead peasants’ insurance policies – how nice…). Business partners sometimes take out life insurance policies on each other as well, listing each other as the primary beneficiary.
- You Co-Signed a Loan with Them: If you co-signed someone’s loans, such as for a car, or for a college education, then you might want to get a life insurance policy on them. Otherwise, you’d have to pay their remaining debt out of your own pocket.
- You Used to Be Married to Them and They Pay Child Support: Having a requirement for life insurance in divorce decrees is common. That's because if you have dependents who live with your ex who are dependent on your child support, who would continue helping with their living costs if you were to die?
Can You Take a Life Insurance Policy Out on Anyone?
Now we’re really getting down to it.
The simple answer to “can you take a life insurance policy out on anyone?”
No. You cannot take a life insurance policy out on just anyone.
There are four different parties involved in a life insurance policy:
- the insurer (life insurance company)
- the owner of the policy (the person who pays the premiums)
- the insured (the person whose life the policy is for)
- the beneficiary (the person who will get the claim paid out to them)
And each of these parties has to be involved in the process, meaning they would have to know that a person is taking a life insurance policy out on them (except if you're a minor and it's your parents taking the policy out on you — see section below).
Let’s take a deeper look at how knowing someone is taking a policy out on you is built into the life insurance process.
Can I Buy Life Insurance on Someone Else?
But, you must cover your bases from what we discussed in the section above. Namely, you must have an “insurable interest” in the person you want to insure. AND, you must get their consent.
In order for anyone to take a policy out on someone else, they have to go through several steps that makes it next to impossible to unknowingly take a policy out on someone else.
Step #1: Show Insurable Interest
The regulation of insurance is left to each state so the laws vary; however, generally speaking, you must have an “insurable interest” in the person you will be taking a life insurance policy out for. This is easy to prove for people that are close family, such as your spouse, child, etc.
Insurable interest means a person or an entity must have a financial stake in the person they’d like to insure, which gives them the right to attempt to protect their financial losses.
Step #2: Have the “Insured” Go through a Medical Exam (Normally)
While there are life insurance policies that do not require a medical exam, for the most part, they do. That’s because insurance companies need to know that the insured person’s health is in relatively good shape (they are, after all, in it to make money).
The cool thing is that if you find a life insurance policy through Policygenius.com, they'll send a nurse out to conduct the exam when it's convenient from you, in the comfort of your own home!
Step #3: Get the Signature of the Insured
Finally, you have to have consent from the “insured” (usually through signatures on important documents) in order to take the policy out on them.
Even in the case of employers taking life insurance policies out on their employees, they have to tell the employees in writing and get employee consent (you might have signed something in all that onboarding paperwork and not have known it if you skimmed through).
Can I Cancel a Life Insurance Policy My Parents Have on Me?
You should know that it's perfectly legal for a parent to take a life insurance policy out on their child (as a minor) — AND, it's legal for them to keep that policy once that child becomes an adult.
However, if you're an adult, then your parents would need your consent to take a policy out on you at this point.
What if you don't know whether or not your parents have a policy on you, leftover from when you were a kid?
Aside from just asking them, you can request a report from The Medical Information Bureau (MIB), which keeps a database of life insurance applications.
Life Insurance Policy for Parents – Life Insurance for Parents
Taking a life insurance policy for parents might be a good idea for several reasons:
- You need to cover their funeral expenses and this would be a hardship for you.
- They watch your kids while you go to work, so if they passed you would need to start paying childcare.
- They have any debts you’d need to pay off (specifically if you co-signed a loan for them).
If you’re wondering, “can I get life insurance on my parents without them knowing?” The answer is no — you can't get life insurance on a parent without their consent.
You’ll need to have “the talk” with them about your intentions (see the above section “Can You Take a Life Insurance Policy Out on Anyone?” for why they need to know you’ll be taking a policy out on them; in a nutshell, it’s because you’ll need their consent, they’ll need to pass a medical exam, and an “insured” party should know if someone is doing this. You’d want to know, right?).
But, don't fret. There is one type of life insurance for parents' policy that is easier to get than the others. It's called Final Expense Insurance (aka, burial insurance — I know, I know, kind of morbid). You'll still need your parent's consent to get the policy, HOWEVER, they do not need to get medical exams (though there will be a few medical questions they'll need to answer).
A good place to start the process of getting life insurance for your parents is by getting free quotes from a number of companies through PolicyGenius.com.
Can You Get Life Insurance on an Ex-Spouse?
Divorce is messy. One of the details is, even though the two of you are separated, your finances probably aren’t. This is especially true if one spouse receives alimony and/or child support.
Many divorce decrees dictate that one spouse – the one provided alimony and/or child support – take out a life insurance policy and add their ex-spouse and/or child(ren) as beneficiaries so that in the event of their death, financial obligations can still be met.
The problem with this set-up is that the spouse who is ordered by the decree to get life insurance policy on themselves might decide to cancel the policy or change the beneficiaries. And how would you know if this happened?
Granted, if this happens to you, you likely have sway in a court decision upon death. Here’s some further evidence of what happens when there’s a failure to comply with divorce decree.
Can you get life insurance on an ex-spouse? Yes. You have an insurable interest. However, you need their consent.
Even non med-exam policies require either a pen-and-ink signature or a voice signature, which is the insured confirming their identity via voice. The insurer or agent will keep both on file. Also, policies that don’t require underwriting (such as a medical exam) are expensive — they’re generally only available for people over 50, and $25,000 of coverage could cost over $150 a month.
How Do I Find Out Is There a Life Insurance Policy On Me?
Do you suspect that someone might have a life insurance policy out on you, without your permission?
It turns out that there's a place that keeps records of life insurance applications — though only for underwritten applications. The Medical Information Bureau (MIB) is a clearinghouse for insurance companies to deter fraud, and they keep records of life insurance applications. You can request your report from the MIB (this page explains how).
Your report will show you any underwritten applications that have been made in your name (though this won't include any Guaranteed Issue Policies, as those are not underwritten).
Forged Signature Life Insurance Policy – How to Deal with Suspected Fraud
Do you suspect that someone else has forced your signature on a life insurance policy? If you do find evidence that someone has forged your signature in order to apply for a life insurance application in your name, you should contact the insurance company to report the suspected fraud, or contact your state's insurance bureau.
You can report insurance fraud through your state's insurance board. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) also has an online fraud reporting site that is an easy way to file a report.