When Should You Get Supplemental Life Insurance?

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Contributor, Benzinga
July 3, 2023

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About 54% of Americans have some form of life insurance coverage. However, there is still an outstanding “need gap” of 16 million Americans who say that they need coverage but cannot get it, largely due to price. 

If you feel that you don’t have enough coverage or you’re looking for an affordable way to extend your coverage, a supplemental insurance policy may give you the peace of mind you’re looking for. 

What is Supplemental Life Insurance?

Supplemental life insurance, also referred to as voluntary supplemental life coverage, is another policy you can add to your whole or term life insurance policy. Whether you have group life insurance through your employer or an individual life insurance policy, it could fall short and fail to cover all of your remaining expenses after death. 

You may need to extend coverage to your spouse, your family’s everyday expenses or your child’s education expenses. Supplemental life insurance allows you to extend your coverage offered by your employer.

Supplemental life insurance helps cover all the “what ifs” that can leave your family with excess bills that they can’t cover. Let’s take a look at the what ifs:

  • What would your family do if your health declines and you need long-term care that your health insurance won’t cover? 
  • What if you’re involved in a traumatic accident at work and can no longer work? 
  • What if you unexpectedly die and leave your family without your income, which they depended on to cover mortgage payments? 
  • What if you are the main financial provider for your family and you suddenly die, leaving your spouse with no income? 

In the case of any of these instances, supplemental life insurance can help cover the costs as long as you have it in addition to your regular life insurance coverage.   

The Advantages of Supplemental Life Insurance

There are plenty of advantages that come with adding a supplemental life insurance policy to your whole or term life insurance coverage, including the following. 

  • Supplemental life insurance may be portable: This refers to the policy’s ability to travel with you when you transition to a new company as long as you are paying the premiums. This is, however, dependent on your employer. Most supplemental life insurance policies that were bought through an employer are not portable. Private insurers allow you to keep your policy no matter who your employer is. Make sure you look into whether your employer allows portability or not. If not, you’ll usually want to purchase your supplemental insurance through a private insurer. 
  • Supplemental insurance can provide specific benefits: Depending on the policy you buy, your supplemental life insurance can provide you with coverage for specific expenses or benefits. For example, you may be able to invest in a supplemental life coverage option that specific covers burial expenses. 
  • The policies can be paid out in the case of accidental death and dismemberment or personal loss: Supplemental insurance through your employer can pay the beneficiaries if the insured employee dies from an accident or is dismembered, loses their sight or their hearing ability from an accident.  
  • Supplemental life insurance purchased through your employer is generally more affordable: If you are getting supplemental life insurance through your employer, it will cost less due to it being lumped with the company’s group insurance.  

When Should You Get Supplemental Life Coverage?

You should get supplemental life insurance coverage as soon as you determine that your life insurance policy does not provide all the coverage you need. You may need more coverage for your spouse or your child that your current policy is not taking care of.

You might also want to consider supplemental life coverage if you have trouble being approved for an individual insurance policy. Getting supplemental coverage through your employer allows you to bypass the medical exam that private insurers require you to go through because converting a portion of your policy to an individual policy provides you with more lax requirements. This can make a supplemental life insurance policy a strong option for those who don’t qualify for a private insurance policy due to an underlying health condition.  

There is no specific age that you should get life insurance and the same goes for supplemental life insurance coverage. Life insurance in general is very situational. However, you will have lower insurance premiums if you purchase the policy at a younger age. It is also important to note that if you have supplemental life insurance through work, the death benefit can begin to decrease when you reach a certain age, usually above the age of 70.

You should also consider getting supplemental life insurance when you have a major life change. If you’re like most people, your life is constantly changing — so it makes sense that your insurance needs will change alongside it. If you have a child, get married, send a child off to college or begin providing care for an elderly parent, you might want to consider further protecting your family with a supplemental policy. 

Do You Have Concerns About Specific Costs?

Supplemental life insurance can be advantageous when you have one financial burden you are concerned about. Whether this is your retirement or your child’s education expenses, you can get supplemental life insurance to help with it. 

For example, if you feel that you only need life insurance to cover your family’s mortgage payments should you die unexpectedly, you may be able to invest in a supplemental policy that is specifically for these payments. This usually comes with the benefit of decreased premium expenses.

How Much Coverage Do You Need?

When determining how much life insurance coverage you need, take a look at your current finances. Consider whether your family will be left in a financial crisis when you die and whether your current life insurance policy is enough to cover the costs of your death. You’ll want to have enough coverage for final expenses, mortgage payments, the replacement of lost income, the education costs of any children you have and most importantly, your family’s daily life expenses. 

The easiest way to figure out how much supplemental life insurance coverage you need is to speak with an insurance agent. You can ask them which policy would be best for you and your situation, and you can compare prices and coverages from different insurance companies to see which best fits you, unless you are getting the policy through your employer.  

While it may be a lower cost, if you are looking into supplemental life insurance through your employer, make sure you determine what is actually covered and how it is covered. You don’t want to leave your beneficiaries with a mountain of costs after you die because you didn’t double-check the coverage you had and it ended up not being enough.

You will need to adjust your coverage with certain life circumstances. If you have a child or an aging parent moves in with you, this increases the amount of people that rely on you for financial support. If you buy a house, you may want to adjust your coverage to include mortgage payments. You’ll need to adjust coverage if you get married in order to protect your spouse. You may have gotten a raise or a new higher-paying job, so you’ll need to change your coverage to fit with your new lifestyle. We recommend reassessing your insurance coverage each time you have a major life change to be sure that, in the event that you die unexpectedly or can no longer work, your family has sufficient coverage. 

Compare Life Insurance

If you don’t have the option to buy supplemental life insurance coverage through your employer, you might want to consider adding a private supplemental policy to your list of life insurance protections. Consider a few of our highlighted insurance providers below to kick off your search. 

  • securely through Wysh Life Insurance's website
    securely through Wysh Life Insurance's website
    Best For:
    Those Under 50 Years Old
    Read Review
  • securely through Ladder Life Insurance's website
    securely through Ladder Life Insurance's website
    Best For:
    Adjustable coverage
    Read Review

    Ladder Insurance Services, LLC (CA license # OK22568; AR license # 3000140372) distributes term life insurance products issued by multiple insurers – for further details see ladderlife.com. All insurance products are governed by the terms set forth in the applicable insurance policy. Each insurer has financial responsibility for its own products. Coverage amounts vary by state.

  • securely through Haven Life Insurance's website
    securely through Haven Life Insurance's website
    Best For:
    Under Age 64
    Read Review

    Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC21 Haven Term in certain states, including NC) issued by C.M. Life Insurance Company (C.M. Life), Enfield, CT 06082. In New York (DTC-NY) and California (DTC-CA), it is issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001.

  • securely through Fabric Life Insurance's website
    securely through Fabric Life Insurance's website
    Best For:
    Young families
    Read Review
  • securely through Bestow Life Insurance's website
    securely through Bestow Life Insurance's website
    Best For:
    Term life insurance
    Read Review

    *excludes New York

  • securely through Sproutt Life's website
    securely through Sproutt Life's website
    Best For:
    People with healthy lifestyles
    Read Review

Is Supplemental Life Insurance Worth the Extra Expense?

Finding the right insurance for your family can be a long process — and if you’re working on a limited budget, you might assume that buying supplemental insurance is outside of your list of necessary policies. 

However, the truth is that the right supplemental insurance coverage can be an affordable way to help you rest easier at night knowing that your family’s mortgage or your child’s college education are secured. We highly recommend at least exploring this optional coverage — especially if you have the option to get life insurance through your employer. 

Frequently Asked Questions


Is it worth it to get supplemental life insurance?


When compared to other types of insurance coverage, supplemental life coverage is an affordable way to protect your family. No matter how much you have in savings or how large your family is, it’s worth considering. 


What is the difference between basic life and supplemental life?


Basic life insurance policies are the types of policies that most people think of when they imagine life insurance. Your policy can either cover your whole life or a specific term. If you die while your policy is active, your insurance provider will pay out a death benefit to your beneficiaries.

As the name suggests, a supplemental life insurance policy is an additional layer of coverage that extends the benefits of your basic life insurance policy. You can add a supplemental policy through a private insurance provider, but most people get their supplemental policy through their employer’s insurance options. Supplemental insurance may cover only specific situations or may offer an extended death benefit.


Benzinga crafted a specific methodology to rank life insurance. To see a comprehensive breakdown of our methodology, please visit our Life Insurance Methodology page.