Does life insurance start immediately?

3 min Read Published: 12 Sep 2023

Does life insurance start immediately?Yes, the majority of life insurance covers do start straight away but some have qualifying periods that mean that you can't claim immediately. We explain which types of life insurance policies start to cover you immediately, providing instant peace of mind and which ones will pay a death benefit for claims only after the initial qualifying period passes.

Can you claim against life insurance immediately?

Yes, you can but it depends on which type of life insurance policy you buy. Below, we explain which different types of life insurance policies allow you to claim straight away as well as some exclusions to look out for.

It is worth noting that suicide claims are almost always excluded during the first 12 to 24 months of any type of life insurance policy.

Term life insurance - when does the cover start?

If you buy a term life insurance policy, the cover starts the minute you or your life insurance adviser instructs the life insurance company to start the policy. I've known for a term life insurance policy to pay a claim for a person who died after starting their life insurance policy but before the first premium had even been collected from their bank account so it really is as immediate as that. In addition, many term life insurance policies will provide accidental death cover while your application is being processed which means that you're covered against death caused by an accident even before you start the cover and pay your first monthly premium.

Term life insurance policies include:

  • Level term assurance
  • Decreasing term assurance
  • Mortgage life insurance
  • Family income benefit
  • Increasing life insurance

If you are thinking of buying term life insurance, you should read our article "What are the pros and cons of term life insurance?"

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Whole of life insurance - when does the cover start?

With most guaranteed whole of life insurance policies, the life cover will start immediately but policies can vary so make sure you check the policy details. Some whole of life policies have a qualifying period which can be anywhere between 6 and 36 months and will be stated within the terms and conditions of the policy. If death occurs during the qualifying period, some insurance companies will refund the premiums that have been paid up until that point but others do not pay anything.

You will find more information in our article, "Whole of life insurance - what you need to know"

Over 50s life insurance / Funeral Plans - when does the cover start?

Over 50s life insurance cover almost always comes with a qualifying period which can be between 12 to 36 months. If death occurs during this period there will be no payout and the premiums paid to date will be refunded. Some Over 50s life insurance companies will pay one and a half, two or three times the premiums that have been paid if death occurs due to an accident. There may be restrictions to a claim if your death is caused by a pre-existing condition within the qualifying period.

To discover the different variables with this type of life insurance, read our article, "Which is the best over 50s life insurance?"

How to find the right life insurance at the best price

It can be quite confusing when you buy life insurance due to the different types of life insurance policies. Many life insurance policies have names that sound similar but offer different levels of financial protection, be that a lump sum of money or a regular income.

If you are left wondering what type of life insurance policy is best for you then we suggest speaking to a life insurance specialist*. As experts in this area, life insurance specialists will be able to answer any questions you have and ensure you buy a policy that best suits your needs. The experts will scan the market for the most competitive life insurance quotes and if you decide to go ahead with the life insurance plan, as a Money to the Masses reader, you will receive up to £100 cashback.


If a link has an * beside it this means that it is an affiliated link. If you go via the link, Money to the Masses may receive a small fee which helps keep Money to the Masses free to use. This link can be used if you do not wish to help Money to the Masses and do not wish to qualify for the cashback referred to in the article