Should You Buy Life Insurance For Your Parents?

Should You Buy Life Insurance For Your Parents?

Purchasing life insurance for your parents is a big decision that involves careful consideration of their needs, finances, and your own ability to pay potential premiums. While buying a policy can provide important protection, it’s not always the right choice.

This guide examines if and when getting life insurance for your parents makes sense.

Can You Buy Life Insurance For Your Parents?

Yes, you can purchase life insurance for your parents in Canada, with a few stipulations:

  • You need to have an “insurable interest” in their life. This means you stand to face financial loss if they die. Children automatically have an insurable interest in their parents.
  • You must get your parents’ consent. They will need to sign the application and complete any medical underwriting requirements. You cannot secretly take out insurance on someone else.
  • You must pay the premiums if your parents cannot or choose not to. If payments cease, the policy lapses.

So, it is possible to buy life insurance for your mom or dad. But first, consider whether it aligns with their needs and wishes.

Why Might You Need Life Insurance For Your Parents?

There are several reasons why purchasing life insurance for your parents could make financial sense:

Covering Final Expenses

Covering end-of-life costs is often the first consideration when buying parent life insurance. Given rising funeral prices, families could otherwise face significant out-of-pocket costs. Pre-funding final expenses with insurance lifts the financial burden at an already difficult time.

In Canada, a burial costs between $5,000 and $10,000 on average, Even cremation can cost thousands, including urns, services, permits, and other needs. (source:

A small policy ensures money is available to cover expenses like:

  • Funeral home fees
  • Burial plot/cremation costs
  • Headstones, flowers
  • Travel for out-of-town relatives

For families without savings, these unpaid final bills could mean going into debt after a parent passes away. Life insurance avoids this scenario and lets families grieve without financial worries.

Paying Off Debts to Unburden Heirs

A life insurance payout can also retire the debts parents leave behind, whether it’s a mortgage, vehicle loans, medical bills, or credit cards. This prevents children from inheriting unpaid debt and removes the stress of managing parent payments on top of their own expenses.

In Canada, seniors often have substantial mortgage debt and other financial obligations. And a portion of insolvencies filed by those over 65 are linked to guaranteeing other people’s debts. With life insurance proceeds, heirs are free from being burdened by the deceased parent’s unpaid debts. They can focus on their own financial futures without the liability of managing the debts of their parents.

Read more: Mortgage Protection Insurance

Providing Income Replacement

If one parent dies, the other may struggle if they depend on dual incomes. Life insurance can replace the deceased parent’s lost income.

For example, say your retired dad gets a pension that ends when he dies. If he passes first, losing his income could severely impact your surviving mom. Proceeds from a life insurance policy on your dad can help fill that income gap. 

A life insurance policy provides heirs with funds to replicate or supplement the deceased’s retirement income. This protects the surviving parent from income loss and financial instability in their later years.

Leaving an Inheritance or Charitable Gift

For many parents, being able to pass down an inheritance or donate to a cherished cause is a top priority. Permanent life insurance provides guaranteed funds to make these transfers possible, regardless of the parents’ other wealth and assets. This brings deep personal satisfaction and fulfillment in their final years.

Beyond these core reasons, life insurance also enables family businesses to continue seamlessly and covers liabilities for dependent children. Overall, purchasing policies for parents have wide-ranging financial and emotional benefits that can resonate for years.

Paying Estate Taxes

Life insurance can minimize the estate taxes owing on the assets your parents leave behind, helping to maximize the value that goes to heirs.

Important Factors To Consider Before Buying Life Insurance For Parents

While life insurance protects parents’ financial well-being after death, purchasing coverage has real impacts on you today.

Before applying for a policy, weigh considerations like:

Your Parents’ Existing Coverage and Financial Situation

Do they already have enough life insurance? The need may be less if they have sizable savings, pensions, or policies from an employer.

Policy Expenses

Life insurance for seniors over 60 or those in poor health often costs more. Make sure premiums fit your budget, especially if parents cannot contribute.

Who Will Be Responsible for Payments?

Decide upfront if you or your parents will pay. Be prepared to cover the cost if their income is limited.

Your Parents’ Health History

Undisclosed medical issues can lead to denied claims. Have an open talk about their health before applying.

How Much Insurance Is Needed?

Ensure the death benefit adequately covers potential funeral costs, debts, taxes, and income replacement.

Finding the Best Life Insurance Policy For Your Parents

Finding The Best Life Insurance Policy For Your Parents
Finding The Best Life Insurance Policy For Your Parents

Choosing the right type of insurance requires balancing costs, coverage period, and benefits. Consider these common options:

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance provides temporary coverage spanning 10 to 30 years. Premiums are lower but increase with age. It works well for covering needs like mortgages, income replacement, and final debts.

Permanent Life Insurance

Types like whole life insurance and universal life insurance offer lifelong coverage. Premiums are pricier but remain fixed. Permanent insurance is useful for funeral costs, leaving an inheritance, and estate planning.

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance

For seniors who cannot qualify medically for other policies, guaranteed issue life insurance provides set coverage without a health questionnaire. However, benefits are capped at around $25,000.

Final Expense Insurance

Final Expense insurance policy pays for end-of-life costs only, not income replacement. It may be an affordable option if you just need several thousand dollars for funeral and medical bills.

When comparing options, weigh the benefits against premium costs that fit your budget.

How To Buy Life Insurance For Your Parents

Buying life insurance for a parent involves a few extra steps:

  • Discuss your intentions and get their consent before applying.
  • Determine the policy amount needed to cover potential expenses and debts.
  • Research different policies and costs from various life insurance companies.
  • Fill out and submit the application with your parent, including any medical history questionnaires.
  • Pay the premiums on time going forward to avoid the policy lapsing.

Be sure to communicate clearly with your parents throughout the process and support whatever decision they make.

Alternatives To Buying Life Insurance For Parents

If purchasing a policy seems too costly or your parents decline, other options include:

  • Paying funeral costs upfront – Work with a funeral home to pre-plan and pre-pay services.
  • Setting aside savings – Open an account and contribute regularly to cover final expenses.
  • Asking your parents to get a policy – They may qualify for lower premiums than you can find.
  • Checking other existing insurance – Your parents may have enough coverage already through a spouse or employer.

Key Takeaways: Should You Buy Life Insurance for Your Parents?

  • Purchasing life insurance for your parents can provide vital financial protection but also carries real costs for you today.
  • Weigh their needs and ability to get coverage against your own budget and financial constraints.
  • Have an open talk with parents about their insurance status and wishes to make the best plan.
  • If buying insurance for parents, research policies wisely, involve them directly, and be ready to pay premiums.
  • Alternatives like pre-paying funeral expenses may work if life insurance seems unaffordable.

FAQs About Buying Life Insurance For Parents

How much life insurance coverage do parents typically need in Canada?

The amount of life insurance parents need depends on their specific financial obligations and goals. A good rule of thumb is 5- 10 times their gross annual income to cover income replacement. Other factors to account for are outstanding debts, potential medical and funeral bills, taxes, inheritance wishes, and future inflation.

Getting quotes from a licensed advisor can help parents quantify needs. But coverage ranges from just $10,000-15,000 for basic funeral costs to several hundred thousand or more for high net worth individuals.

What should parents consider when naming beneficiaries for their life insurance policies in Canada?

When deciding on beneficiaries for life insurance, parents should think about their family dynamics, each person's financial needs, and how proceeds can be distributed equitably. Naming primary and contingent beneficiaries, like a spouse and children respectively, ensures the payout goes where intended if the primary beneficiary dies first.

It's also crucial to review beneficiaries after major life events and update them as circumstances change. Considerations like naming minor children or irrevocable beneficiaries require special attention. Consulting a legal or financial advisor can ensure your policy aligns with your overall estate plan.

What happens if parents miss premium payments for their life insurance policy?

If parents miss premium payments, the policy can lapse in most cases. However, the insurer usually offers a 30-day grace period to make up the late payment and avoid cancellation. Beyond that, reinstatement may be possible by paying owed premiums and re-confirming eligibility.

To prevent unintended lapse, some policies have provisions for automatic premium loans using the policy's cash value. Discussing payment solutions and protections with an insurance advisor can prevent coverage from ending accidentally. Maintaining life insurance is vital, so address missed payments promptly.

Can both parents be covered under the same life insurance policy?

Yes, parents can be covered under a joint life insurance policy as joint policyholders. These plans provide insurance protection for both individuals under one contract. The death benefit can be structured to pay out upon the first parent's passing or the second parent's death.

Alternatively, one parent can purchase individual coverage while naming the other as beneficiary. Either approach can financially protect both parents, so choosing the right policy structure depends on their specific needs.

Is life insurance for parents in Canada necessary if they already have coverage through work?

Workplace life insurance benefits alone may not be sufficient if parents need substantial coverage in retirement or wish to leave an inheritance. Employer policies often end when the insured leaves their job. And benefit amounts are usually tied to a multiple of salary.

Purchasing an individual policy offers greater control and the flexibility to maintain coverage regardless of job changes. Consulting with an independent life insurance advisor can help determine if additional coverage beyond workplace benefits is advisable.


Deciding whether to purchase life insurance for your parents is an important decision with many financial and emotional considerations. While buying a policy can provide both you and your parents with peace of mind, it may not be the right choice in every situation.

Have an open and honest discussion with your parents about their insurance needs and wishes first. If purchasing coverage makes sense for your family, take the time to carefully research your options, involve your parents directly in the process, and plan for premium payments.

Protect Your Parents with Life Insurance

Purchasing life insurance for your parents provides important financial security for your family. Get a free quote today to find affordable policy options from Canada’s top insurers.

Our advisors will help you:

  • Determine the right coverage amount based on your needs
  • Find the most suitable policy type for your situation
  • Shop multiple carriers to get you the best rates
  • Handle the application hassle-free

Don’t wait – get the peace of mind your parents deserve. Connect Insurance Direct Canada now to take care of their future and yours.

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