What is relevant life insurance and should you have it?

6 min Read Published: 24 Nov 2022

What is relevant life insurance and should you have it?What is relevant life insurance?

Many small business owners would love to offer their employees or directors financial perks such as life insurance. Unfortunately, setting up a group scheme can be expensive, especially if there are not many staff.

There is an alternative in the form of a relevant life policy.

Relevant life cover is a form of death-in-service benefit that is set up and paid for by a company but pays out to a staff member’s or director’s beneficiaries on death or in the event that they are diagnosed with a terminal illness. It is typically used by businesses that aren’t big enough to establish a group life scheme but want to provide a perk for their directors and staff.

Relevant life insurance can also be helpful for high-earning directors and staff who have made use of their pension lifetime allowance as a traditional group life scheme would count towards their retirement savings. Relevant life insurance works in a tax efficient way to minimise potential pension tax.

1 minute summary

  • Relevant life cover is a type of death-in-service benefit
  • A relevant life insurance policy is set up and paid for by a company
  • The policy pays out on death (or terminal illness diagnosis) and is paid to the beneficiaries of the staff member or director
  • The cost of relevant life premiums can be treated as an expense, reducing a firm's corporation tax bill
  • Can be a useful way of attracting and retaining staff
  • Speak to an independent relevant life insurance specialist* to receive specialist advice that is tailored to your business

How does relevant life insurance work?

Similar to a traditional life insurance policy, an individual is assessed based on how much cover is required, their health, age and lifestyle. The amount you request may be determined by your mortgage costs, salary and other elements such as your personal bills. This then generates a premium but rather than the individual paying the policy, the business does. If the person covered, dies while working for the company it pays out a lump sum, tax-free to their beneficiaries, which is typically their family members. Policies can be taken out for employees as a benefit as well as for business owners and directors themselves. The cover can be a useful employee perk but relevant life cover taxation is also pretty generous.

Relevant life plans can either be for a set amount, known as level, or be linked to inflation so the payout reflects the cost of living at the time it is made. This would also increase the premiums in line with inflation. Some policies can also incorporate guaranteed increase options such as to cover a larger mortgage or pay rise. It is not treated as a benefit in kind so those insured don’t have to pay any income tax, while the business can treat the premiums as an expense to reduce their corporation tax bill. Additionally, the policy is written in trust which makes the payout to beneficiaries free of inheritance tax. Providers will set various limits on levels of cover so to boost the insurance many use it alongside death-in-service policies.

Death-in-service cover usually provides a tax-free payout of between two and four times salary if you pass away while working for the company. In contrast, a relevant life policy may offer more cover. These types of policies may not individually provide enough cover for all your loved one’s expenses such as a mortgage or childcare so it is often worth considering topping up with your own life insurance. Additionally, if you leave a company that was providing the death in service benefit you would lose this perk but it may be possible to take charge of your own relevant life cover and pay your own premiums. You could even take it with you to your new employer and ask them if they will pay for it as part of your remuneration negotiation.

What are the benefits of relevant life insurance?

Benefits for businesses

Relevant life cover is a tax-efficient alternative to group life assurance. A group life scheme often works out cheaper for larger groups and those businesses with just one or even no members of staff wouldn’t usually qualify. Instead, relevant life plans allows a company owner or director to still be able to cover themselves using their business rather than their own personal income, as well as providing the perk for employees. It also has the benefit of reducing the firm’s corporation tax bill as can be treated as an expense. More importantly, relevant life cover is a useful way of attracting and retaining staff as it shows you value their contribution and care for their wider family.

Benefits for employees

A relevant life policy is also useful for employees. It gives them life insurance without having to pay any premiums, although depending on the level of cover it may still be worth having their own additional policy. Relevant life cover is also beneficial for high earners as an alternative to joining a group life scheme. This is because group life schemes count towards the annual pension lifetime allowance, which is £1,073,100 in the 2022/2023 tax year.

Any payouts under a group life scheme would fall under the allowance, risking a hefty tax bill when combined with their pension, so instead a high-earner could have relevant life cover, which doesn’t count towards the pension lifetime allowance. Ultimately relevant life insurance gives you the reassurance that your beneficiaries will be looked after with a tax-free payment, which can be used alongside other personal policies you may have set up.

How much relevant life insurance should you get?

Employers that offer death in service benefits to their employees via a company group life insurance scheme usually offer somewhere between three and ten times the employee's salary. You would need to work out what is right for your business and importantly, what is affordable. We provide some basic cost comparison quotes for relevant life insurance below, alternatively, you may wish to check out our article ‘How much does relevant life insurance cost?'

How much does relevant life insurance cost?

Similar to a life insurance policy, the cost of relevant life cover will depend on the insured individual’s age, lifestyle, health and how much cover is provided. It is definitely worth shopping around, as providers will offer various levels of cover with different terms and conditions depending on the type of policy you want. We have provided some example quotes below which give the approximate premiums you would expect to pay for a healthy, non-smoking 25, 35 and 45 year old and provide insurance until they are 70 years old. This should only serve as a guide however and we would recommend that you always speak to an independent financial adviser or better still, an independent business life insurance specialist as they will be able to find the most suitable relevant life cover provider based on your own unique circumstances. At the foot of this article, I detail the independent insurance specialist I personally used for my business insurance needs.

Relevant Life Quote Comparison – 25 year old non smoker

Amount of cover Monthly Premium* Insurer
£150,000 £8.17 Aviva
£250,000 £13.15 Aegon
£350,000 £16.75 Aegon

Relevant Life Quote Comparison – 35 year old non smoker

Amount of cover Monthly Premium* Insurer
£150,000 £12.71 Vitality
£250,000 £18.77 Aegon
£350,000 £24.55 Aegon

Relevant Life Quote Comparison – 45 year old non smoker

Amount of cover Monthly Premium* Insurer
£150,000 £19.90 Scottish Widows
£250,000 £30.74 Aegon
£350,000 £40.05 Aegon

*Price based on cover until age 70

Compare relevant life insurance

Different insurance companies will offer a variety of rates and levels of cover as well as access to support services such as access to virtual doctors and counsellors, so it is important to compare relevant life insurance policies and costs. It is advisable to speak to a competent life insurance broker to find the most suitable policy (or combination of policies) for you and your business.

I have personally vetted the services of LifeSearch*, one of the UK's leading specialist insurance brokers, which recommended and put in place insurance policies to protect my business (MoneytotheMasses) and its employees. It has specialist advisers that deal with relevant life insurance. To arrange a free chat just fill in the form via the above link. There is no obligation on your part to take matters further. The firm has strong ethics but also enjoys preferential prices from insurance companies which means that it can guarantee to beat any relevant life quote.


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. The following 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 – LifeSearch