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Life Insurance

Life Insurance Explained

“How do I protect my loved ones if I die?”

It’s the type of question that’ll keep you awake at night, turning over and over again in your head. No one likes to think about it: dying unexpectedly and leaving your family behind.

It’s a rotten thought – but it does happen.

And what happens then?

It’s enough to give you the heebie-jeebies, but that’s also why you owe it to your family to consider Life Insurance for the financial well-being of your loved ones when you’re pushing up daisies.

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Why you need Life Insurance

Life Insurance is a tax-free lump sum paid out to your family when you die. They will use it to replace the income they lose on your death so they can avoid financial worries at a time of great emotional distress. It will be invaluable to your family’s future.

The one absolute in life is that we’re all gonna die. And even that comes with a caveat: give it another century, and maybe technology will evolve to upload all of us into the cloud so our consciousness will live on forever.

Or maybe someone will crack cryogenics, and we’ll be put into icy pods for a big old snooze only to wake up in the year 3,000 to find that Busted were right and that we all live underwater.

Or maybe the inverse will happen, and this big ol’ rock we call home will keep heating up, and that’ll kill us off before we get the chance to go full Black Mirror

Regardless of the many possibilities, the truth remains: we’re all gonna die some time, someplace. Fingers crossed, not till we’re 90 and have hairs growing out of our nose. 🤞

That’s the core reason why Life Insurance exists: to offer personal financial security when this inevitability happens. I’m an insurance broker with 20 years of experience in the biz and the owner of this lion.ie website. Today, I’m going to do a deep dive into the world of Life Insurance and all you need to know while researching the topic online – and don’t worry, I’m going to do it in plain English and without the bullshit.

Pull up a chair and get yourself some snacks. This is a long one!

Why Life Insurance?

When people think of Life Insurance, they often go to the scams: of young wans marrying octogenarians in the hopes of getting their hands on their moolah. It’s the plot of a dozen terrible movies.

Wipe that image of an elderly chap and his insurance right out of your head. In fact: Life Insurance is far, farrrrrr more useful for younger people – especially those with a young family. Think about it: if you have insurance and you’re 90, any kids will be long grown up and financially dependent.

Now imagine a 35-year-old with two kids under four and the sudden death of their spouse.

Who do you think needs the insurance money more?

Let’s look at it simply: Life Insurance gives you peace of mind and pays out a tax-free lump sum to support your family when you die. Dying comes with a whole load of associated costs (funerals are a money-making racket, in lots of ways), and your income is about to dry up forever.

If you have a family who would struggle financially if you were to shuffle off, then the sensible thing to do is to consider Life Insurance.

Is it a pain in the arse to pay money to a company in exchange for money if you die? Yes.

Does it make sense regardless? Also yes.

When you think of Life Insurance, you probably think of the big one – DEATH – your family gets a pay-out. They can use it to clear the mortgage, pay off any debts or buy a pyramid-shaped tomb so you can go out in style like an Egyptian king.

Nicolas Cage did that last one. He also apparently owns a dinosaur skull, a pet octopus, and two islands. Some man for one man. 

Anyway. My point here is that lump sum would really help your family out after you die. It makes sense to have such a safety net.

But here are some more reasons why you need Life Insurance:

  1. If anyone depends on you financially, you need Life Insurance.
  2. If you owe money, you need Life Insurance.
  3. If you live in a rented property, you need Life Insurance.
  4. If you have a job, you need Life Insurance.

In truth, you and your family are fecked without it.

Choosing your Life Insurance

Life Insurance pays out a lump sum if you die (i.e. death insurance, basically), but it also has some other bits. Overall, there are four types of Life Insurance. Each of them is useful for various reasons.

Life Insurance Cover

The Big Kahuna. The leader. The big cheese. The Fat Tony.

Life Insurance, for the skimmers, is a tax-free sum of money that your insurer will payout in the event of your death. It broadly comes in two types. Whole of Life assurance will payout whenever you die, as the name suggests, while Term Life insures your life for a specific period/term (think 25 years)

Whole of Life tends to be more expensive because it’s guaranteed (as I said: you gon’ die). At the same time, Term Life might be more suitable if you, for example, wanted cover for 20 years until your kids/family are financially stable without you. (Little do you realise that, in 20 years, your kid will probably still be living in your spare room and asking you to Revolut them a tenner for pints.)  

Mortgage Protection Insurance

You can pay off your mortgage or any debts you have with Mortgage Protection.

Well, technically not you, as you’ll be dead.

But the ‘you’ in the bodily sense, who has kindly left behind a wedge of cheese for the fam. 

After you die, your estate must pay any debts you have before your family receives anything. That could include a small loan right up to a stonkin’ big mortgage. 

Mortgage Protection comes in realllll handy here. 

If you’re getting a mortgage in Ireland, you have to get a Mortgage Protection Insurance policy – because the law likes to protect the banks, even though you could blame them for the last recession. 

Butsurelookit. 

Now, if you don’t have a mortgage and you have no plans of getting one (housing crisis, wha?), you could still consider some cover – especially if you’re renting with the other half. If anything happens to them, will you be able to afford the mortgage repayments on one income? If something happens to them, will you be even able to keep working and bring in one income?

At the very least, scroll back up to point number two on this list and think long and hard about the value of Income Protection. 

Income Protection Insurance

No kids. No need for cover?

NOPE.

Let’s say you get sick – not lie in your bed with a sore head sick, but proper sick. So sick you’re in and out of hospitals, and you’ve no time to think about anything else except your recovery.

It happens all the time.

Sure, you can go on State illness benefits – which is €203 a week. That’s €812 a month.

A month.

Jeepers. 

Not looking so great, is it? 

Income Protection could be a lifesaver here.

This lad isn’t as well-known as Life Insurance, but he’s a beauty all the same. For my money (or for yours, more accurately), Income Protection is really, really worth considering.

Basically, Income Protection is a replacement income of up to 75 per cent of your salary that’s paid to you by the insurer if you can’t work due to any illness, accident or disability.

The average Income Protection payout is around five years – so seriously, weigh this one up.

For context, the State’s Illness Benefit is ONLY €203 PER WEEK (CAPS BECAUSE IT’S IMPORTANT!)

Income Protection covers up to 75 per cent of your salary.

I’ll let you do the maths. I know maths are hard, so if you need help, plug the numbers into my magic quote machine and see what you could be looking at.

The monthly premium you pay for Income Protection is also applicable to tax relief at your marginal rate, which helps on the price front.

And as a reminder: it’s paid out if you can’t work FOR ANY REASON.

Basically, Income Protection could actually benefit you without you having to die. So there’s that.

So yes. Income Protection. Get it if you are a person with a job who likes having money.

Basically, Income Protection is your guarantee of keeping a roof over your head.

It’s a piece of paper that you can show to your landlord or bank to prove you’ll be able to pay the rent/mortgage soon in a few weeks once you receive your income protection money.

Without it, your bank/landlord may be very sympathetic, but it won’t be long before they kick you out.

Serious Illness Cover

Income protection can be pricey if you have a higher risk job. You see the insurers price income protection based on your occupation. There are four classes:

income protection occupation class

So if you work in an office, cover is cheap; however, cover can be expensive if you do manual work.

The insurers underwrite income protection strictly, so if you have some pre-existing conditions (mental health, muscular/joint pain), you will face exclusions for those conditions. Multiple exclusions make serious illness cover more attractive.

Multi Claim Protection Cover is also worth considering if you have a chronic illness like MS or Diabetes.

A hugely popular choice among Irish consumers, Serious Illness Cover, is like Income Protection’s little brother. I recommend it if Income Protection is out of your budget and you still want some cover if you were to be out sick from work for more than a few weeks.

Serious Illness Cover pays out a tax-free lump sum if you get sick with one of the illnesses in your policy. It, however, is a stickler for the terms and conditions and the illnesses covered. For example, advanced cancer will get you a full payout. In contrast, an easily treatable cancer will qualify for a partial payout only. 

In summary

If you have kids, get Life Insurance and Income Protection.

If you’re the only person who depends on your income, go with Income Protection.

If you’re a singleton and kids aren’t on the cards or your other half is crazy rich, you don’t really need Life Insurance! And yes, that is me, a broker, possibly telling you not to buy anything.

Of course, if you’re getting a mortgage, you’ve no choice here, and you have to get Mortgage Protection.

Banks, eh?

Why is Life Insurance important?

Look, the main reason Life Insurance is important is peace of mind.

You can sleep easy knowing that whatever life throws at you, you and your loved ones will be okay financially.

In short, you’re paying the insurer for a good night’s kip.

And I promise it’s probably not as expensive as you think it’ll be.

Case in point: Joe, an average 45-year-old, wants 30 years’ cover. He doesn’t smoke and would like cover of €250,000. Joe is smart, so he adds the conversion option– which means he can continue his policy after 30 years without answering any medical questions.

That way, he gets guaranteed cover until age 91 even if he suffers health issues before then.

This is how much his Life Insurance would cost per month:

life insurance quote

Your internet probably costs you more than that.

Think about it. 

Is Life Insurance really worth it?

Now that you know what Life Insurance is and you’ve read those last few paragraphs, you might be considering it. Fair play. Life Insurance is one of those adult decisions where you do stuff you don’t want because it’s right for you or someone you love. Like Sunday dinner with the in-laws.

So why is it worth it? Three words:

Future financial planning

Yup. Future financial planning. It doesn’t get more grown-up than that. Again, if you have any financial dependents, Life Insurance is like magic. It gives you peace of mind and potential financial stability.

And I’m not just saying that because I’m an insurance broker.

Life Insurance is perfect for:

  • Protecting your home.
  • Protecting your family.
  • Protecting your livelihood.

How so?

Protecting your home

That’s our pal Mortgage Protection. 

The roof over your head is crucial, after all. Love may build a home, but it’s not going to keep the leccy and heating on. That’s what money is for.

If you’re a renter, you could potentially use a payout to pay your rent or mortgage month to month.

Renting? Go here to find out what you need to know.

Protecting your family

If you love your family (and I’m presuming you’re not a sociopath and that you do), you want to protect them. I have kids, and I would do anything for them – and I don’t even mean that in a mawkish, overly-sentimental way. Something changes in you when you’re half responsible for creating an actual, living, breathing little person (or three), and it’s worth protecting.

And sure, the first couple of years, your spawn behaves like a tiny, angry drunk, but they’re YOUR teeny, angry drunk, and you’ll do everything you can to protect them. Step one, of course, is to love and care for them. Step two is to provide for them financially.

Life Insurance (and possibly Income Protection) is a big part of that, insofar as having peace of mind should the worst happen to you. If you (or your other half) died, could you manage the financial burden of providing a house, clothes, school, whatever for your tiny, angry drunk? If yes, you can exit out of this article.

If you’d struggle, then seriously think about it.

Protecting your livelihood

Income Protection really is the superhero of insurances. And you don’t even have to die to benefit from it. If you’re self-employed, in particular, you’d be an absolute eejit not to consider it.

Does Life Insurance really payout?

Look, I know how arse-ways it is to pay the insurers to give your family/dependents money if you die. It’s macabre.

But it’s also potentially life-saving stuff, in the non-literal sense.

And here’s the kicker: Insurers pay around 98 per cent of all Life Insurance claims.

Generally, in the case of the two per cent that isn’t, it’s because the claimant lied or invalidated their claim somehow. (For example, if they said they weren’t smokers and got caught out or lied about having a clean bill of health. Nobody can stop you telling fibs on your application, but lying will cause all sort of issues if your family have to make a claim, so I really do recommend telling the truth.)

Much like politicians, it’s easy to presume that insurance companies are up to mischief. However, if you play fair, the insurers will too. Most insurers will do their best to pay out a claim. Think about it: if they never paid out, no one would buy their policies.

What are the disadvantages of Life Insurance?

Well, you have to pay for it. And you might actually outlive your policy and pay all those premiums for nought. It does happen; it’s part of how the insurers make their money.

And as I mentioned, in some cases, if you lie on your application or commit fraud, your claim will be invalidated and won’t be paid out. So there’s that. Just don’t lie on your application, and you’ll be fine.

I often get asked if you can cash in your Life Insurance policy if you outlive it. You can, with Royal London’s ‘Life Changes’ Option

This is a specific policy where, after 15 years, you can 

a) stop paying your premium and receive a lower payout when you die, or 

b) cancel your plan and get cashback.

However, the policy is much more expensive, and the amount you get back depends. I go through it all here in this article about getting cash back on Life Insurance.

There is no secondary market for life insurance policies in Ireland, so you can’t sell your whole life policy to a third party.

All things considered, on the ‘disadvantages’ front, it’s actually not too bad. I mean, sure, you have to pay for your cover, but the insurers are a business, and they’re not about to give you free money for nothin’.  

Which is the Best Life Insurance?

So now you’re up-to-speed on the four different types of Life Insurance, I’m going to tell you a little bit about the providers and their processes. In Ireland, we have Irish Life, Royal London, Zurich, New Ireland, and Aviva..

The shortest answer here is that there is no ‘best’ Life Insurance. It really does depend on your situation. Life Insurance actually comes with a bunch of useful extras/benefits, which can help sway your decision.

So while the cost is a consideration, you should also keep in mind the benefits offered by each of the five main Irish insurance providers you can choose from.

Guaranteed insurability option (GIO): 

The ability to increase the amount of cover you have on special occasions without answering medical questions. Special events include the birth of a new tiny, angry drunk or getting married. The ‘health question’ bit is significant because your insurance’s cost generally links to your general medical wellness. Essentially, this GIO lets you get more coverage in the future, even if your health has deteriorated since you took out the policy.

Medical 2nd Opinion: 

A nifty service where you can consult with a doctor about treatment/illness-related bits is for free as part of your cover. If you’re someone with a chronic condition, it could come in handy for peace of mind that your current treatment option is the best one available.

Child Cover: 

This one is mucho grim, but it’s Life Insurance for your kids. We don’t need to say anything else about this one.

Conversion option: 

THE HOLY GRAIL. If you decide to go with term cover (i.e. insurance product for a set term), snap it up. Actively seek this one out. With a conversion option, you can lengthen the time on your cover without answering any pesky medical questions. Even if you’re 62 and in poor health, the insurer has to offer you cover based on your health when you took out the policy. Basically, it guarantees you cover in the future regardless of your health.

In short: there is no outright best Life Insurance – or even outright best insurer. It depends on your situation. This is particularly true if you have a health issue or chronic illness.

I recommend that you go to a trusted insurance broker (for example, me) and compare all the main Irish insurers and policies. They’ll be able to get you a quote from all the insurers. The good ones will talk you through it (in plain English), and you’ll be able to get the best policy for you.

Remember: it isn’t about the CHEAPEST cover; it’s about getting the right policy for you and your situation. Basically, we must ensure we continue to appease the tiny, angry drunks.

In the next section, we’ll look at how to actually get a Life Insurance quote and how it all works.

Don’t stop now. Onwards! 

How to Make a Life Insurance claim

You should probably tell your other half to read this part. You’ll be brown bread, so it’s not much use if you have the information in your head.

Dark.

In all seriousness, making a claim is reasonably straightforward. Once your other half (or whoever the claimant is) has mourned suitably, they’ll need to get in touch with the claims team and supply several documents, including a birth and death cert. They also need to provide a grant of probate or marriage certs, if it’s applicable.

The insurer may also request a medical report from your GP. They will process your claim and, presuming everything is okay, will payout.

Life Insurance quotes: how much does it cost and how to get one?

Well, I’m going to start with an easy answer to the question about where to get a quote for Life Insurance products. You can use my magical Life Insurance quote-majig. If you have no health issues, you can fill in your details, and you’ll get an accurate quote.

Please bear in mind that it’s a little more complicated if you have a health condition or a dangerous job. You’ll need to fill in this form instead, and I’ll get back to you after speaking with my panel of underwriters. This will all be done under a veil of strict anonymity…as in I won’t reveal your name…they already know who I am.

As for how Life Insurance quotes are calculated, imagine this scene: it’s a dark and stormy day, and we’re in the dungeon of an insurance company. Inside are many people in bland office wear, with wicked scurvy from a lack of Vitamin D and eyes grown round from staring at numbers all day.

Some are underwriters; some are actuaries. Both are responsible for using complex maths and science to calculate how much your premiums will cost. Your premium is your monthly payment in exchange for cover. You pay your premium = you get protection.

These lovely folk weigh up a bunch of factors to consider the likelihood of you making death or illness claims. Based on this, they then calculate a premium that I can offer to you.

What is the average cost of Life Insurance per month?

Well, there isn’t one. However, if you’re in good health and you don’t smoke (smoking is a BIG boo-boo for insurance; it’ll double your price), you’ll be blown away at how affordable Life Insurance actually is.

Let’s look at an example.

Séan (howiya Séan) is a 40-year-old accountant who recently got married. He and his other half are planning on adopting a tiny, angry drunk, and he’s considering Life Insurance to protect his little family.

Séan doesn’t smoke, and he’s in good health. He wants a 20-year term of €250,000 to cover until the tiny, angry drunk is a grown-up. His quote would look like this:

life insurance quote table

That’s between €6-€8 a week for Life Insurance. For €2 extra a week, Séan can get a conversion option as well. This would allow him to buy more cover when he’s 60 without answering medical questions so that he can leave behind a lump sum for his partner or child.

Sure, when you look at it like that…

Which is better: Term or whole of life?

Before you go, if you’re wondering whether you should get Term or Whole of Life, it comes down to what you want to get out of your Life Insurance policy. If you’re going to leave behind a nest egg for grown-up kids, Whole of Life is a good shout or Term with a conversion option.

If you want to protect your family while your kids are young, then go with Term.

Ultimately, it comes down to you and your situation…and the price.

Over to you…

I said this up top, but I’ll repeat it because it’s uber importante: your Life Insurance policy should make sense for you and your loved ones.

Just because your sister has €250,000 life insurance over 25 years doesn’t mean you should buy the same cover unless you:

  • earn the same amount
  • have children who are the same age
  • took out an identical mortgage 
  • have similar health issues

There’s a lot I can’t do for you, but I can help you sort it when it comes to insurance. If you’re in good health and have figured out how much cover you need, it’s as simple as hitting the ‘Get Quote’ button.

However, if you’d like me to make a recommendation for you, that’s cool: I’d love to help. Just give me a call on or fill in this questionnaire, and I’ll give you a callback, and we can take it from there.

I’ll be in touch as soon as I can.

If you’re still not convinced, why not have a peep at some of my customer testimonials. There are almost 1,000 of them, so you’ll be able to see the broad range of people I have helped to get all types of Life Insurance. We are, of course, fully compliant with the Central Bank of Ireland as one of Ireland’s leading life insurance brokers and all that jazz.

If you’ve read the whole way to the bottom, I hope you found this information useful and that you brought snacks! 👋 

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Benefits of Life Insurance with lion.ie

life insurance

  • A tax-free lump sum paid out to your loved ones in the event of your death.
  • You’ll get peace of mind that your family will be financially secure.
  • The option to bundle Serious Illness Cover, for a few quid a month extra so that you get a pay-out if you get one of a list of serious illnesses.
  • We work with all five insurers so we’ll get the best deal for you.
  • We’re Ireland’s leading insurance expert for Life Insurance for the chronically ill. The HSE estimates that 1 in 4 people in Ireland have a chronic illness – and we believe that everyone should have access to Life Insurance, regardless of their situation.

Ultimately, no one wants to have to pay for Life Insurance (trust me, as a dad of young kids, I get it!), but if you have a family or dependents, it’s one of the best things you can do for them.

How much will it cost to protect my family?

Why Lion.ie?

I believe in plain English and in avoiding the makey-uppy terms insurers and banks use to bamboozle you. After all: if you can’t understand what they’re saying, how are you meant to get the best deal?

Life Insurance Email Crash Course

Want to know a secret?

The insurers payout on 97 percent of death claims – so now you know that your family’s future will almost certainly be secured.

What else?

We’re an online broker so we can arrange everything, including the signing of your documents over t’internet.
We specialise in getting cover for people with health issues or quirky medical condition.
We give you unbiased advice on a choice of policies from AvivaIrish Life, New Ireland, Zurich Life and Royal London. That’s all five of the main Irish insurance companies.

. Remember if you go through your bank or directly to an insurer, you don’t get any choice of provider. They just sell you what they have.

Look, it all boils down to this: I think it’s wrong that Life Insurance companies and banks make it so bloody difficult to get cover, especially if you’re in the chunk of the population who has a health issue.

It’s just not fair.

I founded lion.ie because I’m on a mission to make life insurance possible for everyone.

I’ll lay it all for you in plain English and I’ll give you professional advice so you can get the right deal for you. I can’t wait to speak with you and to make life insurance a little less drab and a little more fun.

Nick McGowan
lion.ie | making life insurance easier

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