Should You Buy Life Insurance For Your Child?

Should You Buy Life Insurance For Your Child?

Written by Corrina Murdoch
Fact-checked by Caitlin Wood
Last Updated August 4, 2021

Life insurance is a key component of any long-term family planning. The nature of the unexpected is such that you cannot foresee it. The nature of family is to look out for one another, planning ahead for the day when you cannot do so. Upon marriage and having children, it’s common to take out a life insurance policy for yourself to cover expenses and ensure the financial stability of those you leave behind.

However, when it comes to life insurance for children, the emotional ramifications make it an extremely nuanced decision. The tragic loss of a child is unthinkable, too difficult to consider, for many parents. As a result, life insurance for children is not often considered, though it is available. Such insurance is meant to cover the cost of funerary expenses and enable you to afford the time to heal, so you may be strong for those still in your care.  

In What Case Would I Need To Buy Life Insurance For My Child?

Typically, life insurance is not a consideration for children, largely because they are not relied upon for income. However, there are exceptions to this rule, where it does make logical sense to purchase whole life insurance for the child. These policies are drastically costlier than term life insurance and mature with your child into adulthood. 

With the increasing prevalence of genetic profiling, and the ever-evolving actuarial science of insurance adjustment, it’s worth considering if your child is predisposed to an illness. While an immediate presentation of an illness, such as congenital heart failure, may preclude insurance access, other issues may only appear with time. 

Consider hemophilia, for example. The child could live a perfectly sustainable life, though when they reach adulthood, it would be difficult for them to get insurance as an adult. Term insurance would be off the table, or the adult child would be priced-out. However, whole life insurance carries with them, meaning they can overtake the coverage once reaching the age of majority. 

What Does It Mean To Buy Life Insurance For Your Child?

Buying life insurance for your child means purchasing an insurance plan to cover the costs associated with the death of the child. Though it has negative connotations, the idea behind this insurance is not to profit the parent in any way, rather it is to offer the child a lifetime asset. Permanent, or whole, life insurance carries with you so long as the premium is paid. 

There is a benefit amount, the money issued to beneficiaries after death of the insured, but there is another aspect to the premiums paid. The amounts parents pay towards the insurance policy build value in said policy. Using a tax-deferred structure, the cash value grows over time. Eventually, in adulthood, the insured party can use this collateral against a policy loan. It can mature into a part of the child’s investment portfolio. 

Some policies make dividend payments after time, meaning that, over time, the dividends can cover the cost of the premiums themselves. 

What Does Life Insurance For Children Cover?

The life insurance policy, if it is paid out to you as the beneficiary, covers two main things. Provided the premiums are paid without default prior to the death, you receive the full value of the life insurance. The amount first is meant to address funerary expenses, which often exceed $10,000. 

Additionally, the money is meant to enable you to take time off work to grieve. Especially with factors such as mortgages, car payments, and credit, losing income can lead to a cascade of tragedies. The loss of a child is an incomparably tragic incident, but often there are more dependents than one. When there are more children in the family who require care, the insurance ensures that you can support them financially while you begin the path of healing. 

The optimal situation is that the insurance converts into an asset for your child in adulthood. The child can take over the premiums; or, if it is paid out, simply change the beneficiaries to their children. 

Cost Of Buying Life Insurance For Your Child

While life insurance policies taken out against children cost far less than those taken as an adult, there are still several factors that play into the cost. The low price is associated with a lack of health history. Some plans even let you lock the premium in place for the entire duration of the policy.  

The first aspect that impacts your premiums is the amount of purchased coverage. A plan worth $20,000 will cost far less than one for $100,000 or more. The next aspect is the payment schedule for which you opt. If you pay the plan out through the age of the child’s retirement, the premium will naturally be lower. 

Many companies offer an option to payout the policy within a set of years, typically ten or 20 years. It will cost more, but the policy is paid in full by the time the child reaches adulthood. This is the more common approach, as it ensures an asset for the child entering the adult world. 

Benefits Of Buying Life Insurance For Your Child

There are a large series of advantages to purchasing insurance for your child, particularly when the policy is taken out soon after they are born. Among the benefits are:

  • Guaranteed Insurance: A lack of healthcare history enables you to take out insurance when the child is in peak condition. This ensures that they have access to insurance for their entire lifetime. 
  • Cash Value of the Asset: Insuring the child from a young age enables your kids to have life insurance where they do not need to pay premiums for their entire lifetime. In fact, the value of the policy can become an asset. 
  • Lock into a Low Rate: The earlier you get insurance, and the longer the maturation period, the lower the rate will be. Even with this low rate, you can often pay off the policy before the child reaches the age of majority. If you opt against that, often the dividends of the policy can cover the premium when the child hits adulthood. 
  • Cover Funerary Expenses: In the event of an untimely death, the cost of funeral expenses is another difficulty without insurance. Funerals, even austere ones, can cost upwards of $10,000, something that would be covered by this insurance.
  • Financial Security: Bereavement from the loss of a child is unimaginable, the severity depending on those left behind. Particularly if you have more than one child in the home, this ensures that, while you begin to grieve, finances are not an issue. 

Drawbacks Of Buying Life Insurance For Your Child

All insurance is a matter of risk management, meaning the weighing of pros and cons of the plan. Life insurance for children is not without drawbacks, including: 

  • Low Coverage: For starters, the coverage for these policies is fairly basic. The low coverage is better-suited to giving the child life insurance upon them reaching adulthood. However, the amounts available are low (particularly since there is no health history).
  • Low Returns: Though the cash value of the mature asset is present, it isn’t the most substantial return. It could cover the premiums once the child grows, but it won’t offer much more. As far as assets go, RESPs are far superior
  • Long-Term Commitment: The idea of life insurance on a child is with the hope of never making a claim. That means the best-case scenario has you paying for the entire childhood before you transfer the premiums to them. 

Who Should Get Life Insurance For Their Child

There is a time and a place for everything, including life insurance policies for children. One common situation is for a child that has a health issue that will grow worse with age. The health concern will make it far more challenging for them to access insurance as an adult. 

For example: The child has a kidney issue that will worsen as they age. It may not be life-threatening, but it can make insurance much harder to get. 

Another common reason is if family history indicates that the child will likely incur a health issue early in life. Such issues can be financially straining and result in a serious loss of income while fighting for the child’s life. The insurance can help the family recover after losing a child. 

For example: The family has a history of cystic fibrosis, and the child is genetically susceptible to this issue. Getting insurance early ensures that they can have coverage for a reasonable rate. 

Finally, there are situations where families rely upon children for income. This is a tricky subject since it is the children who should rely on their parents for money. There are child labour and exploitation laws specifically precluding using children as a source of income. However, it does not always represent the full truth.

For example: A child wishes to become a YouTube sensation and is successful. The parent leaves their job to support the child full-time, receiving a managerial fee for services rendered. 

Life Insurance For Children FAQs

Is buying life insurance for your child a good investment? 

The short answer: no. The cash value aspect is the only facet of this investment with value, though the savings aspect is simply not sufficient to justify the investment. Whole life insurance costs more and sees less growth than were you to simply set up an investment account. 

Who can you buy child life insurance from?

You can purchase life insurance for children anywhere you can buy it for adults. If you already have life insurance (and if you are considering insurance for a child, you really should), simply use your existing insurance company. Often, sticking with the same company can result in better rates. 

What happens to my child’s insurance once my child becomes an adult?

Limited-pay policies are fully paid after a set number of years. In this case, the child insurance converts to regular life insurance when the insured party reaches the age of majority. They become the account primary and can make adjustments to the beneficiaries of the plan once it is signed over. If the plan isn’t paid out by that time, the primary can transfer ownership to the adult child and they become responsible for the premiums. 

Final Thoughts

There are few situations where getting life insurance for your child makes sense, but if they apply to you, it is important to do your research on providers. Identify your priorities. Is the goal to give your child a lasting asset? Be sure to find a limited-pay policy, though it is likely better to invest in a high-yield savings account, or put the money into an RESP. 

Insurance is important, but its primary objective is to cover the equivalent loss of life in monetary means. Children aren’t breadwinners, so the loss cannot equivocate in such a manner. However, it can cover the short-term price of grief while you begin the road to recovery in order to be there for those under your care. If you’re getting insurance because health issues are likely due to genetic or environmental concerns, be sure to thoroughly check the underwriting of the plan. 

Regardless of the reason behind pursuing the life insurance plan, doing your research on the provider and plan is essential to finding the right solution for your family. 


Rating of 5/5 based on 1 vote.

Corrina Murdoch has been a dedicated freelance writer and editor for several years. With an academic background in the sciences and a penchant for mathematics, she seeks to provide readers with accurate, reliable information on important topics. Working as a print journalist for several years, Corrina expanded her reach into the digital sphere to help more people gain insight into the realm of finances. When she's not writing, you can find Corrina swimming and spending time with family.

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