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Life Insurance

Who owns a life insurance policy?

The role of the owner of a life insurance policy is simple. You control the policy and the rights to deal with it, this includes changing the contact details, cover reduction, premium payments and so forth. You also have control of the policy at claim time which is when the funds are received by the policy owner.

Life insurance policy ownership

A life insurance plan gives you the ultimate peace of mind. For most people, the most common reasons for getting life insurance are children and debt, such as a mortgage. The important thing is to set up the ownership structure in a way that ensures that in the unfortunate event of your death and a claim arising, the funds of the policy end up where you want them to.

There is no standard or straight forward rule to follow when selecting the primary beneficiary of your life insurance policy, this is because the structure needs to reflect your individual circumstances. However, most people choose one of two options, which we`ll look at below.

Sole policy ownership - You will have the option to be the sole owner of your policy. In this case, in the event of your death, the funds are paid into your estate and distributed in accordance with the law and the stipulations of your will if you have one.

Joint policy ownership - In this case, you and another person (usually a partner) will own and have control of the policy. During the life of the policy any changes that are made to your policy will require signed authorisation from both of you. In the event of your death, the funds bypass your estate and go directly to the remaining policy owner.

Can a child own a policy?

A good question that we get asked at LifeDirect is whether a child can own their own policy? The policy owner needs to be at least 16 years old, and most life insurance companies won't allow you to have beneficiaries listed on the policy.

To make sure funds reach your loved ones, you`re best to make sure your will is up to date and lists where you`d like the funds to go. In some cases a trust could be involved (with the trustees owning the policy). We recommend getting advice from a lawyer to make sure your will (or trust) is sorted.

As your circumstances change, it`s important to update your policy ownership to reflect those changes. Changing ownership is usually very simple, and at LifeDirect, we're here to assist you with making this change. If you're a LifeDirect customer, you can log into your MyLifeDirect, from there you can request a policy ownership change.

Find out how much it would cost you to protect your loved ones. Start a free life insurance quote online and compare policies from NZ's leading insurers with LifeDirect. Otherwise give our Wellington based team a call on 0800 800 400 for a chat.

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